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Grahan: Director Ranjan Chandel gives a BTS look into what led to the Hotstar series

From rewriting the script to getting harsh texts, the director-writer bares it all

Raktim Das
Jul 13, 2021
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The official poster of Hotstar's Grahan

Directed and co-written by Ranjan Chandel, Grahan is the new magnum opus of Disney+
Hotstar. The eight-part series is being lauded for its balanced representation and unique approach of a love story through the coloured glasses of communal riots in 1984.

Based on Satya Vyas’s novel Chaurasi, the writer-director had come across the book earlier and was attracted to its poetic storytelling and the compelling love story. He thought of making it into a movie, but got busy with other things. However, when producer Ajay Rai contacted him to adapt a book, and it turned out to be Chaurasi, Ranjan knew it was a matter of divine intervention.

Grahan not only involves a complicated and sensitive issue, but also straddles across two timelines – the 80s and the present day. Building upon the plot of the novel, the show depicts the modern times as well. Calling writing a challenge as they were dealing with sensitive subjects, Ranjan gave the viewers a tour of the journey behind the renowned show in a chat with Mid-day.

He expressed how in spite of the socio-political background, Grahan remained a relationship drama in his heart - a love story from the 80s marred by socio-political issues running parallel to a complex father-daughter relation, when the daughter is handed a case from that decade.

Director Ranjan Chandel in a BTS from the show

Socio-political elements were consciously kept in the periphery, as Chandel developed draft after draft, knowing that sensitive treatment of the subject was crucial to its success. Three months before the shoot, he rewrote the draft again to avoid any scope of imbalance. The filming was scheduled to be done in Bokaro, but the pandemic forced the steel plant shut, so the location was shifted to Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, but eventually was done in Lucknow after the Uttar Pradesh government allowed shoots.

Narrating an incident, Ranjan informed how upon the trailer’s release, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur had slammed the series for portraying a Sikh character in an ‘objectionable manner’. A witness of the 1984 riots had also sent a legal notice to the makers. However, the makers had full faith that once people watch the show, they will realise that their intentions are pure. Their belief came true as a lot of those who had sent them harsh texts, sent apology messages after watching the show. “Art speaks for itself. Our vision was clear — we focused on how the riot wreaked havoc in the lives of the people; we never reflected our personal political leanings,” Ranjan added.

Grahan is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, and has a stellar cast from Pawan Malhotra as Rishi Ranjan, Zoya Hussain as SP Amrita Singh, Wamiqa Gabbi as young Manjeet Kaur Chhabra, Anshumaan Pushkar as young Rishi and Teekam Joshi as Sanjay Kumar Singh.

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