Anurag Kashyap, Neeraj Ghaywan on directing Sacred Games 2, and why Netflix Original will get more riveting now
While Anurag Kashyap has directed Nawazuddin Siddiqui's Ganesh Gaitonde track, Neeraj Ghaywan has helmed Saif Ali Khan's Sartaj Singh track in Sacred Games 2.
When the second season of Netflix India’s popular series Sacred Games drops online on 15 August, we will see Saif Ali Khan as Inspector Sartaj Singh and Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Ganesh Gaitonde returning, along with new cast members, Kalki Koechlin and Ranvir Shorey. Pankaj Tripathi, who we saw a bit of in Season 1, will have a more prominent role this time.
While Anurag Kashyap continues to narrate gangster Gaitonde’s story, Masaan director Neeraj Ghaywan, has stepped in to direct Sartaj’s track. Vikramaditya Motwane has decided to focus solely as showrunner of the show. Firstpost catches up with the directors to talk about the series making its hotly anticipated return this week.
This time, you have a showrunner and two directors to handle a show, which is so huge. How did you guys manage it?
Anurag: You can’t do a Netflix series without a showrunner. It is too much of a job and for Vikram, being the director and a showrunner, was so difficult. He decided to take on one job, and that made it easier for us. I can only focus on what I am doing, and if I am not allowed to do that then I won’t be at my best. We all had different roles. Neeraj had to focus on what he was shooting, and Vikram had to focus on bringing it together. The showrunner and writer Varun Grover mainly deal with the enormous pressure. My approach towards any shoot is the same. I deal with everything as if I’m making a film, and it matters to me. But I was shooting non-stop. I have not stopped shooting for last three years, balancing between my films and the web series.
There must have been many more challenges this time with new characters coming in and then exploring the existing ones. To add to the existing pressure, there were huge expectations after season 1. How did you not lose your hair?
Anurag: The best thing is to not to think, just jump in, and swim. I enjoy creative challenges, and it is always fun to explore new things and get into the heads of other characters, writers, fancy things, and then put it on. This is a fun challenge. I never thought that the show would be such a huge hit. The response has overwhelmed me. But as usual, I will run away just before the release with too much of anxiety happening.
What do you bring in Season 2? How is it different from the first?
Anurag: It is more complex. It finally gets to that 'sacred' part of Sacred Games. Also, Season 1 was so much of Gaitonde, whereas in season 2, Sartaj Singh emerges.
Neeraj: Season 1 was more of what for you, and season 2 is how and why of it. There are many more characters, the scale is bigger, and the investigation has become way bigger.
Neeraj, Sacred Games is definitely a different language for you. How do you feel being part of the series?
In terms of the kind of stories I say. So for me, that has been a huge challenge. It is a huge leap in terms of visual language but I was very kicked about it. I have done very limited amount of work, and I was in a very comfortable space but I wanted to break my own self, and wanted to explore something new. I also changed my orientation with the kind of films and television shows I have been watching. In this one, it is crime, it is police procedure, there is action, everything that I am not known for. I don’t even know if I am half way through but I like the challenge. I really enjoyed putting through myself in that space, in an extremely challenging atmosphere, and to get into the craft and narrative the virtuosity that both these directors (Kashyap and Motwane) have. Also, it’s been some time since I have not come up with a second film, so I was under huge pressure but now, I am so charged with both my mentors, who were my producers on Masaan, they happen to be the same team.
Neeraj, though it was a new space for you, Saif says you were quite cool on sets. Sometimes, you would be seen whistling and singing which made him very comfortable. How did you manage to be like that?
Anurag: I think Saif had a better time with Neeraj than with Vikram because Vikram is not expressive in terms of compliments. Vikram can’t walk up to Saif and say, 'Good shot', whereas Neeraj is very generous with his compliment.
Neeraj: For actors and crew to understand that does their director really like the shot, does he really like my work or not, that is critical. Thankfully, Vikram told me that there is a sense of appreciation that is required for actors .That helped me a lot. One of the biggest lessons I have learnt from assisting him is that atmosphere on the sets is very essential. I could see some of the times, Saif trying to make jokes, make it look funny, and automatically, the energy on set would go up, and you just can’t beat Saif’s humour.
You are introducing new characters this season, like those of Kalki and Ranvir. What are they up to?
Anurag: It is all Varun Grover and Vikram Motwane. They are the most important people on the show, and they are the ones who created these characters and casting was done. I had great fun working with them. I worked with Ranvir Shorey for only two days but I had fun working with Kalki and Pankaj Tripathi.
Sacred Games ran into a bit of controversy last year. There was this whole talk of censoring online content, and recently, Netflix signed on to a code of self-regulation. How would you react to that?
Anurag: That is there within us. We all have our buttons. We all have our boundaries, and even when we push our own boundaries. It is because we have decided to push, because we want to expand our boundaries, our morality, and question things. So even if someone is least self-censoring, that person is also censoring himself somewhere. Sacred Games allowed us to tell the story like it wanted to be told, deserved to be told. I think that’s why people loved it. And also it is a private experience. It is not a community experience.
Neeraj: We, as filmmakers, will also want to put across a particular milieu or particular character in the space that they are. We can’t bring them on morality, on judgement. Secondly, it is also up to the viewer’s discretion, also which Netflix actually makes it very right because it is age-restricted. It is that format which allows you to be watching what is appropriate for you, and that is a cool thing.
The show had also invited a political controversy around the alleged misrepresentation of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. How would you like to refute that?
Anurag: It is high time that our country started bringing the politics in our cinema because what is out there has to be in our art too. We need to start putting what makes us uncomfortable.
Neeraj: What we are is also because of our social space and how we are occupied, and that relationship. I don’t know why we shy away from because that is the core of how we exist. I guess shows like these bring out that element of us.
Would there be Season 3?
Anurag: I don’t know anything about the future. I finish one and quickly move on to the next. I don’t think so much about the future.
All images from YouTube.
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