Anurag Kashyap on Sacred Games, his Netflix debut: 'Digital space will allow me to express my true self'
Earlier this year, Amazon Prime Video India announced its first original, tentatively titled The Forgotten Army, to be directed by Bollywood filmmaker Kabir Khan. Not to lose out on the increasing inclination of Indian viewers towards streaming services, Netflix India announced its first regional production as well - Sacred Games, an adaptation of Vikram Chandra's acclaimed novel of the same name.
The project will be produced by Phantom Films and helmed by two of its key stakeholders - Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. The two filmmakers will unite their creative energies to come up with eight episodes of this show that will star Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead roles.
Kashyap, who is looking forward to making his debut in the digital space, expressed his excitement at the production announcement event of the show. "I have always been a responsible filmmaker. But I feel I have often been denied freedom to express my true self in films. Since I have been aware of my freedoms, my films eventually never got censored. But I had to fight long battles to achieve that stage."
However, he feels that the digital space will allow him a free hand and "go all out there." "I will not put in that extra punch only because it is my big digital debut. I will stay true to the original script and merely translate it into a screenplay."
His sense of responsibility also stems from his past association with Chandra. "It is interesting how Chandra, Suketu Mehta and I were researching about the underbelly of Mumbai at the same time for our respective projects - Sacred Games, Maximum City and Black Friday. So we were meeting the same people as part of our research. So our association dates back to the early 2000s," said Kashyap.
Vikramaditya Motwane, who is doubling up as a co-director and showrunner of Sacred Games, is more excited about the format of the show. "Across the globe, longer formats such as the six hour or the eight hour formats are gaining popularity. I also prefer to tell my stories in long formats so it will be interesting to take up this challenge."
Since a show on Netflix opens them to a global audience and competition from Western shows such as Narcos and House of Cards, both Kashyap and Motwane are nervous but at the same time feel challenged to push the envelope.
Saif Ali Khan, who plays a police officer in the show, said that he is confident about the direction in which Sacred Games would head, given the strong base content. "I am halfway through Chandra's book. I feel like it has incredible visual details. Also, in spite of being in English, it represents the multi-lingual character of the city, and also this country."
Since there will be no language restrictions either, the star cast feels that it will help them to not only reach out to a wider audience but also depict the metropolitan culture of Mumbai more accurately. "I have worked in a lot of regional films. While they have their share of local nuances, I feel that this show will rise above all these barriers and prove to be a more inclusive show. It will represent India at large and showcase it to a global audience," says Radhika Apte, who plays a R&AW officer in the show.
Nawazuddin, who was the quietest at the event, summed up the essence of the show and the emerging platform in a nutshell. "Hum kafi time se dab dab ke kaam kar rahe hain. Ab zara khul ke karenge." (We have been suppressing our creative instincts for a long time now. Now, we will use them to their optimum capacity)