When you hear, “Digital is the future,” you instantaneously know that it’s a statement from long past because the pace with which digitisation has taken over is the standing proof point that digital is happening now, at this very moment when you are reading something on this window instead of glossy pages that saw the life of print after a gazillion meetings, changes and what not!
As someone who grew up watching way too much TV, I can’t remember a moment in the last two years when it had my attention for a span of 30 minutes straight! But if you prompt digital entertainment, I could submit a thesis on Netflix‘s shows line up and most importantly the culture of WEBSERA- Web series era in India.
You’ve most likely watched popular Indian web series such as TVF Pitchers, Permanent Roommates, and most recently Official Chukyagiri.
But ever wondered how much hullabaloo goes behind every 15-20 minutes episode you watch? Read on as Arré‘s Official Chukyagiri director, Sizil Srivastava takes us through his debut web series’ experience to reveal what is it like to be directing one.
First things first, how did Chukyagiri come about?
I spent about 5 years working with MTV,Chukyagiri happened to me after I started directing ads, 3 years ago. This was a time when I was experimenting and had worked on the Gaana.com campaign. (Some of his popular campaigns include MTV Beef Got Hashed, MTV Durex Rex Talk.)
Nikhil Taneja, a close friend of mine shared the script with me; he was the one who convinced me to make my first web series. I have to confess, prior to this, I had a stigma about digital media. As someone who has worked on TVCs, I always thought you need the canvas of a TV platform to do justice to the content. However, the day I sat for the first narration with the talented show producers Amrit Pal Bindra, Anand Tiwari, and Mohit Kilam, I was hooked to the story since its first draft because it tells the tale of a small town lad coming to Mumbai in order to discover himself and carve an identity. The story is quite close to my heart because I hail from Lucknow and I arrived in Mumbai a few years ago with a bag full of dreams. I realised that digital media is, in fact, a huge platform to tell a great story.
Curious question, web v/s TV…
As someone who has extensively worked on TVCs, Sizil explains, ” There’s a vast gap between web series and TVCs, the latter is extremely focused and strictly adheres to brand guidelines. As opposed to content on the web, TVCs are released once in 6 months and they’re not as experimental or indulgent. Whereas the heart of web series is that they’re experimental.”
He adds, ” As opposed to web series where you work with a fairly humble setup, the resources’ quality level for TVCs with respect to actors, technicalities and so on is higher given the budget; but the web at large opens more opportunities at an individual level. The beauty of the web is that individual makers on the internet tell great stories in 15-20 seconds with no brand motive attached to it. ”
Sneak peek, creative liberty in making a show on the web…
All of us, the makers of the content for Chukyagiri have felt the spoken freedom with the internet. The actors on a lot of occasions improvised the dialogues on the sets, the freehand usage of language is evidently visible with certain characters on the show. For instance, IT Ganesh (played by Anand Tiwari), a Maharashtrian is seen mumbling in Marathi time and again; it’s these real life profanities that establish the character better and create a more candid air around it. Creators like Y Films, TVF have always looked at creating candid content, that’s idea of the web.
Throwing light on the creative liberty that the web offers , he shared; for the third episode, we even ended up replacing a dilemmatic discussion with a song on the last minute, and it worked really well for us. It’s this kind of freedom we as a nation have been craving for a long time and web series is definitely a great enabler.
Chukyagiri, the tale of the quirky title…
When I took up the show, I didn’t quite know how to tell my dad that I’m working on a show with an unusual title name such as Chukyagiri *chuckles.* When I first told him he actually laughed! But I guess, eventually that’s the charm of an unusual name! Yet again this is something I’ve personally experienced. People have often asked me, “Sizil, is that really your name?” You’re often questioned, made fun of, but by the end of it, an unusual name sticks around.
The show works on the philosophy of Chukyagiri, at first, he’s (Spandan Chukya) mistaken for being stupid, most often interns are misunderstood. But in the trailer, you also watch him turn around to say, “Spandan Chukya, Chutiya nahi.” (Isn’t that the voice of many interns out there?)
The real in reel, first-hand experiences on screen…
Most of the show has stemmed from everyone’s experiences, right from the camera team to the art team, everyone had something to add from their personal first job experiences. When we were shooting the title sequence at CST, trains would come and go every 2 minutes and we spotted so many 19-20-year-olds probably off to their first jobs, with the exact same profile as our main lead, Spandan; they dressed like him in light shirts, dark pants, black shoes. Their walk replicated the same humility of an intern, who is often less confident but means good.
He adds, “I have to mention the cast has been brilliant in terms of blending and enriching the content. Gopal Datt, who plays the janitor kaka, is a guru-like figure to Spandan on-screen had lot of wisdom, experiences, and improvisation to bring in, he’s been absolutely phenomenal. At the same time Anand Tiwari, Mithila Palkar, who plays Mili, Aahana Kumar who plays Rati, added value to the show. Sunny Kaushal who plays Spandan Chukya is an extremely hard working actor, his journey on the show has been noteworthy. He came with the lump of clay, willing to take whatever shape the character demanded.”
Do we see Sumeet Vyas in the final episode? We spotted him in the trailer…
Well, there’s a hint of surprise, you have to wait for the upcoming episodes to find out. But I can assure you that there’s something to look forward to, at the end of it everyone’s gonna be happy after they watch what happens.
P.S: With that, I can’t wait for the next episode of Official Chukyagiri which comes out tomorrow on 19th October. And as for Sizil’s digital adventures, he promises there’s no stopping. Until next time, #StayCurious.