Be On The Ball: Prime Perspectives on Producing, Acting and Directing

G.O.D is an origin story (10 episodes) of a gangster and his family’s power politics, spanning a 16-year period in the 1960s and 70s.

The making of G.O.D series required multi-layered scripting, meticulous detailing involved in series’ production design, rooted storytelling, in addition to powerhouse performances from its select cast.

God is an unconventional story in a less-explored backdrop and milieu. Majorly inspired from ‘God Father’ series. The story revolves around a migrant family venturing into a mining town. This as a setting has been less explored in regional language space. To bring the vision alive and give it a realistic portrayal, the team handpicked the locations and zeroed in on Anegundi and its precincts near Hampi, Bellary, in Karnataka, apart from pockets in Hyderabad like the gullies in Abids, Basheerbagh and Fateh Maidan Club.

It is a myth that ‘producers are mere money bags and just do financial stock taking and budgetary reckoning’.

Creative Producers harness the inherent passion, creativity and spirit amongst the collaborative Heads of Department (HoDs) in the project and work towards a collective creative vision.

Democratic freedom and collaborative communication are here producing mantras –  with an ‘agree to disagree’ mindset.

Over the last decade, the Indian entertainment business has witnessed a sea change. To adapt to the advancements in filmmaking, there is a clear need for structured film education – an eclectic mix of technical basics, aesthetic values and project/process etiquettes. The real  litmus test is after passing out from the school, wherein one charts one’s own path.

Passion, Perseverance, Patience and Discipline are the four things to look out for production interns/production executives that equally true and relevant for all film making departments.

Students must also learn to appreciate the difference between directing a Film and a Web Series.

The  digital space provides enough and ample scope (in terms of depth and breadth) to develop the atmosphere, plots and characters. In newer Web Entertainment, each episode is an entity with a beginning, middle and an end that should ideally make viewers ‘Want to Watch’ the next episode.  Also, just like films that do not necessarily get shot in a sequential and linear fashion, doing principal photography for Web Series is equally challenging. A robust pre-production and development process (much before the actual commencement of shoot) will increase the cost effectiveness and timely/faster completion.

For example, for G.O.D series, a structured workshop was conducted for actors and crew, three months before the actual shoot.

The  digital medium is opening doors for many and allowing writers to push the envelope and India has still many unexplored stories, underexplored formats, yet to be developed themes. On this medium, specifically in regional markets, there is an innate demand for fresh, seminal and creative ideas and talent who would want to take innovative approach towards the craft of storytelling.

Production is its own beast, and it’s worth considering having your own robust research and rock solid pre-production process/base for eventual synchronicity with all team members in the production phase.

For instance, the G.O.D team undertook an extensive research – using archival photographs of the location/setting for augmenting the authenticity and exact representation of mining community. Likewise, doing intensive acting workshops helped the actors eventually. 

Locations are characters unto themselves. During writing, one tends to focus on the characters, dialogue, and plot. While those are all incredibly important to nail, one could be neglecting the locations. Locations are not just where the story happens, but they can become a character (unto themselves), for they embody the themes and motifs of the story.

Does acting as a process change across various mediums?

 When the camera rolls, they are all the same for an actor. However, how your work is taken to the audiences (reception) varies from one medium to another for the mode, style of work, as well as the reach of all the mediums are wholly different. For an actor, you have to play your part as an actor at the end of the day, regardless of the medium, making it medium agnostic. An actor’s preparation and personal conviction is completely ‘medium-agnostic’ and need to be left like that.

The article is based on inputs shared during a Webinar on Digital Production, Web Entertainment Business and New Exhibition Mediumswith Ms. Radhika Lavu, Mr. Anish Kuruvilla and Mr. Satyadev Kancharana – team of  Web-Series ‘GOD – Gods of Dharmapuri’(2019) at Annapurna College of Film and Media, Hyderabad

Bios:

Ms. Radhika Lavu is an established film producer with over 12 years of experience in the field. She promotes a production house under the banner ‘Ellanar Films’. Her recent accomplishment is Gods of Dharmapuri (GOD), a Telugu web series streaming on Zee5 digital platform, which she produced.

Mr. Anish Yohan Kuruvilla is a director and actor known for his work in the movies ‘Dollar Dreams’, Nandi Awarded film ‘Anand’, ‘Pelli Choopulu’, and many more. He got nominated for the Best Supporting Actorfor his role in the movie “Anand”. He has worked with Sekhar Kammula, Nagesh Kukunoor, and Manishankar. He has also written and directed web-series ‘GOD – Gods of Dharmapuri’(2019) which was Most Viewed Regional Series in November 2019 at the High-Five with ZEE5 awards ceremony.

Mr. Satyadev Kancharana, popular as Satya Dev, is known for his performances in ‘Jyothi Lakshmi’, ‘Kshanam’, ‘Mana Oori Ramayanam’, ‘Bluff Master’, ‘Brochevarevarura’ ‘The Ghazi Attack’ and ‘Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya’. He started his career with short films. His first appearance in a feature film was ‘Mr.Perfect’(2011). His first film in a lead role was ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ in 2014. He has also worked in Web-series ‘GOD – Gods of Dharmapuri’ in 2019 and ‘Locked’ in 2020 which is streaming on ‘Aha’. His recent project is ‘Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya.

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