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Kafas director Sahil Sangha: ‘There’s a strong appetite for homegrown stories in India now’ | Exclusive

Starring Sharman Joshi and Mona Singh, Kafas is now streaming on SonyLIV

Kafas director Sahil Sangha: ‘There’s a strong appetite for homegrown stories in India now’ | Exclusive

Kafas, streaming on SonyLIV, is directed by Sahil Sangha

Last Updated: 09.35 PM, Jul 01, 2023


Best known for his films and series like Love Breakups Zindagi and Mind the Malhotras, writer-producer Sahil Sangha is currently in the news for his directorial venture Kafas - a drama series streaming on SonyLIV. Starring Sharman Joshi and Mona Singh among others, the show - produced by Applause Entertainment - is inspired by Dark Money - a 2019 British miniseries.

The story revolves around a middle-class family that sees a brighter tomorrow when their son gets a life-changing career opportunity. But little did they know that the transition will lead to raising questions about their morality, leading to trauma and bitterness.

In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, Sahil spoke about the making of the six-episode series, deciding on its ensemble cast, why he thinks today’s audience in India loves local stories as much as global content and more. Excerpts:


Q. Your previous projects - be it Love Breakups Zindagi or Mind the Malhotras - were romantic and light-hearted. Kafas, on the other hand, deals with a serious and sensitive topic. Tell us about the shift in genre..

A. In terms of jumping genres, yes, my last release in June last year was the second season of Mind the Malhotras [a sitcom streaming Amazon Prime Video, starring Mini Mathur, Cyrus Sahukar, Anandita Pagnis and Denzil Smith, among others]. Look, I thoroughly enjoy all genres. When you think of yourself as an audience first. When you’re growing up and you’re watching so much content, and you continue to watch so much now, you watch almost everything. You enjoy Friends and you like House of Cards as well. And then, you end up watching foreign dramas like Trapped. So I’m pretty genre agnostic as an individual. There’s always been this desire in me to grab a drama and get into it.

I’m grateful that Applause Entertainment thought of me for this series, and the minute I got my hands on it, there was just so much excitement to do it as best as possible. So I’ve really thoroughly enjoyed the process of helming this series as the director. I’ve been waiting to do it, and hopefully I’ll do a lot more of it.

Q. Tell us about the responses and audience reactions you have received so far…

A. We are just very thrilled with the response we have received for Kafas, so far. We’re also very relieved and happy. So the mood is good, and it’s wonderful that people have embraced Kafas the way they have. It’s just a six-episode, binge-worthy series.

Q. From Mona Singh and Sharman Joshi to Preeti Jhangiani and Zarina Wahab, you have got an interesting ensemble cast in Kafas. Tell us about the thought process behind it…

A. The script, written beautifully by Karan Sharma, is something that obviously demands from performers to come on board. Now, we also had the benefit of having Mukesh Chhabra with us, not just as someone who’s played a part in the show but also as the casting director of the show. Frankly, the credit for suggesting and helping us find these actors must go to him. And after that, I mean, most of them have résumés that precede themselves. 

So as we started stitching the cast together, we found one of the most selfless performances by Sharman. That’s the nature of the part - you have to be selfless and perform it. Again, Mona is seamless as an actor. Vivan Bhatena was completely fearless playing his part. So, I keep saying that Karan has really been blessed also because he's come with such a great attitude towards the written material. 

Now, another very important part of the casting was to find the children, because this is a show in which the children are going up against the adults in a lot of scenes. So Mikhail Gandhi, Tejasvi Singh and Araham Sawant, and all the other kids on the show, they’ve had the very challenging task of acting opposite Sharman, Mona and Vivan. So, it was really interesting. We really were lucky to find these wonderful actors, who were willing to prepare, do workshops and willing to spend hours and hours reading all the key scenes and understanding their characters as well. Because then, once you’re shooting, you want to maximise your shooting hours.

Q. At a time when a variety of content and styles of storytelling are finding space in the digital world, how would you describe the importance of a script?

A. The script is paramount. You really have to be excited by the pages. Whether it’s for OTT, feature or short film - the content is important. Because, if it’s not there on paper, it’s going to be very difficult for you to magically make it appear on screen while shooting. Here, I would like to give a shout-out to Karan again, who’s written Kafas.

Q. What’s your take on the diversity of films and shows on OTT?

A. Frankly speaking, I think it’s a great time for the consumer. In fact, the audience is spoiled for choice. There is dubbed content, foreign content, local content, and all of that. But the onus is on the creators to focus on these scripts, to hunt for these stories and to present them in a manner that makes them worthy of consumption. Now, whether that’s binge-worthy or slow burn, everyone’s schedules are different. 

India is such a big country. We’ve digitised food delivery. Earlier we used to favour two or three restaurants, but now suddenly it’s never ending, and more options keep coming to you. It’s a similar case with OTT too. We watch films and series that we truly resonate with. We watch global content but, at the same time, local stories are also very important. You will culturally identify with the local story, and you need a healthy dose of that. I would love watching, let’s say, Mission Impossible, but I also want to enjoy Pushpa: The Rise, for example. So my palette is varied. I can’t be one dimensional. And whether someone can be articulate about this emotion or not, it is the reality of everybody’s life, which is why, again, if I just take the food example, you want to eat different things at different times. Pan India, I really feel that it’s a great time for consumers. We are all trying our best. We all take up this challenge on a daily basis to tell these stories and formats that are worthy of immediate consumption and for people to enjoy spending that time watching them. 

There’s a very strong appetite for varied content and content with a local context. That’s very important. You can enjoy all sorts of content from around the world today. But you still want to watch your homegrown stories, because they will remain more accessible and relatable, in terms of their palette. Frankly, even at an emotional level, culturally, societies and their manifestation and relationship with the emotional aspect of life is very different, country to country, people to people, sometimes even state to state. So it’s a great time. Our challenge as storytellers is to cast a wide net and share stories that unify that emotional viewing experience.

Q. Your future projects…

A. There’s something that I will be doing with Applause Entertainment again, and we will start to go to work on that pretty soon.

Q. Anything you’re watching on OTT that you would like to recommend?

A. I really liked The Diplomat, streaming on Netflix. I also enjoyed Dahaad on Amazon Prime video, and am currently watching City of Dreams Season 3 on Disney+ Hotstar. And then I always, once a week, tune in to Friends all over again, because it’s just excellent comfort viewing. And I just love hearing all those voices again and again around me. 

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