On 9 July, popular director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki's first web series 'Ladies And Gentlemen' on ZEE5, Indian on-demand internet streaming media provider. Farooki is passing busy days before the web-series is released.
He spoke with The Business Standard about the show in a recent conversation.
The Business Standard (TBS): This is your first web-series. How are you feeling?
Farooki: I am very excited about it. Usually, when we watch something over and over again and still love it in the post-production phase, it means the production has the ability to touch the audiences. I am having that feeling about 'Ladies And Gentlemen'.
TBS: What did you prioritise while selecting the story for 'Ladies And Gentlemen?'
Watch the trailer of 'Ladies And Gentlemen' here
Farooki: To be honest, I have been thinking of making a web series for the last couple of years. But I wasn't sure about the story. I have worked on around 15 to 20 stories, but I wasn't confident enough until I found this one.
TBS: What made you curious about this story?
Farooki: What made me curious about this story? The crisis of its protagonist. The story of the series is contemporary and relevant to our current society. I always say that making a film is like keeping a diary to me. I try to keep my timestamp through the films I make. Hence I say, I don't write diaries, because films are my diary. This story contains the relevance of the time and the life I am living.
TBS: Tell us more about the main character of the series - Sabila.
Farooki: Let me make it very clear that it's not Sabila Noor. My character is called Tasnia Farin. On Facebook I have been getting messages and people are saying that this is Farin, not Sabila (hahahah).
Anyways, I can't describe the character just as a strong woman. She is rather a complex or individual character. We usually assume that a strong woman can't have weaker characteristics. Every character has different layers.
After combining every layer, we can say that Farin is a strong and confident individual. My films or any production usually have strong women characters. My elder sister and mother inspired me to write strong women characters.
On the other hand, my wife Tisha is also a very strong woman. These three women have impacted my thought process which is reflected in my works. The most stereotypical idea of strong women we have in society is that they are grumpy, power hungry, etc. But through Farin, what I am trying to depict is that strong women are fighters - like my mother, like my sister and like my wife. They can overcome hassles. Tasnia Farin is also like that.
The series has a total of eight episodes which will take the audiences on a journey with Farin.
TBS: Will there be a second season of the show?
Farooki: I have plans of making 'Ladies And Gentlemen' a regular franchise. Not sure if it would be based on the same character at this point. Perhaps, the next season will see a different character as the main protagonist. I want to explore the different angles including social, romantic and political in both male and female characters' lives.
TBS: As far as we know, the series has a big budget. Can you reveal the numbers?
Farooki: I don't know if we can call it a big budget production. But I think I should have gotten more budget for this production.
TBS: What is more important for a quality production - budget or story?
Farooki: There is no hard and fast rule for it. The budget is important when the size of the production is bigger. But it is also true that a big budget can't guarantee quality production. Many of the world class cinemas were made on a smaller budget. There are many examples of such productions all over the world.
TBS: You're very popular as a director. Should the audience watch 'Ladies And Gentlemen' because you made it or the series itself has something to draw the audiences?
Farooki: It is difficult for me to say. Everybody will have different reasons for watching the series, I believe. At the end of the day, if any story or character moves the audiences, that is what they will remember forever. I believe this will happen to the web-series.
TBS: The cast of the show features a range of celebrities and during the press conference you said the celebrities worked really hard and sacrificed a lot for the production. What sacrifices did you have to make as a director?
Farooki: For the series, actor Shoraf Ahmed had to shave off his hair, Partha Da (Partha Barua) got his first haircut in many years and I had to sacrifice my sleep. You can ask my wife Tisha about it.
TBS: Many cinema halls are getting shut down for the on-going pandemic. Experts are assuming that OTT platforms will dominate the future. What do you think?
Cinema halls will still have the same value but if I have to speak from the world perspective, OTT is going to be a big platform. I have written about it on my Facebook profile over the last five years. If I make a movie which will be released worldwide, then I will have to make a movie under Marvel, which is not possible.
But independent film-makers like us can release their films worldwide on OTT platforms. For example, the web series can be watched worldwide from July 9. It is exciting to reach out to so many people.
OTT is like a library. There are indie films while there blockbuster hit films as well. You can choose what you want to watch. In the near future, I will release more works for OTT platforms.
TBS: It has been two years since 'Saturday Afternoon' was waiting for a green signal from the censor board. Have you thought of taking any legal action?
Farooki: I have appealed and am waiting for the verdict.
TBS: What is the update of 'No Land's Man'?
Farooki: We have finished shooting the film. We will begin the post-production phase after the release of 'Ladies And Gentlemen.'
TBS: Usually whenever you release a new drama or film, it stirs controversy. What's your assumption on 'Ladies And Gentlemen?'
Farooki: How am I supposed to know that! But I guess this is one of my important works.
TBS: Does Farooki even have any insignificant work?
Farooki: I suppose every film-maker has such works because people mature over time.
TBS: You enjoy writing poetry. Are you discontent that you are not popular as a poet?
Farooki: I don't think so. Some write poetry through words while some write through paintings, while others lead their lives like poetry.
Being a poet is not a special work. And I want to be unknown these days so that when I walk on the streets, nobody knows me. That would be amazing.