In conversation with Vikas…

Enigmatic and dynamic Vikas Gupta, who had made edgy youth shows on broadcast (Gumrah), now goes the whole hog with a bold web series titled Class of 2017 for ALT Balaji. In an exclusive candid chat with IndianWikiMedia, the maverick master shares some pearls of wisdom. A must read for all…

What is unique about Class of 2017? 

I wanted to make a format which is made especially for digital.  Most claim that they have cracked the digital code but alas. I have made a show in such way that even if you hop in on the fourth episode you will not miss anything. I was inspired by international show Skins which is based on a group of kids and each episode dwells on the trials and tribulations of one of them.  But yes, all are present in all the episodes.

Continue…

Class of 2017 talks about the challenges youth face in term of alternate sexual preferences, romantic relationships and peer pressure.  We also will talk about the mental anguish a girl faces when her divorced mother decides to find love again. Toda, kids have it tough as it is a jungle out there and they have to survive.

The scene in the first episode where the young guy has sex with the teacher and post the act continues to maintain an erection, isn’t it a bit over the top?  

You need to understand that today many kids are taking Viagra and this medicine does lead to continuation erection until the chemical dilutes the blood stream.  We all joke about Viagra, but does anybody talk about its side effects? It’s more of a sex education we feel.

You have received a bit of criticism for the same?

Let’s face it, despite what other age groups folk say and feel, youth will continue to experiment with sex and newer social norms.  Having said that, we are the first web series to trend on Twitter, Youtube and have been doing it for the last two or three days.  Large numbers of kid have binged watched what has been uploaded so far. This is a humbling and exciting moment for all of us at Lost Boy productions for youth have identified with our concept.

 ALT Balaji is a paid format…your comment on the same?

We are free to air on You Tube and the app for four to five episodes which should be enough  to when the appetite of viewers. Once they like it, then I think it is fair enough for them to pay for the rest.

What is the biggest challenge for the digital space?

As it is nascent, we are not sure about what works or who the winner is.  Everybody says that digital is for the young, but tell me which available web show speaks to the 13-22 age bracket? Most online biggies like TVF Pitchers or Permanent Roommates address 25 and above demographics.  Also the other problem is that the content we put online is only that stuff which we can’t make for broadcast/cinema. These people forget that those who watch online are the same folks who also watch a Dangal and Naagin.  We really need to research on what kind of web content to make?

 Why is that most web content is based on sex and sleaze?

It is not that you can’t show swimsuit on TV, but it won’t work on Star as you might be uncomfortable watching the same with family.  Digital on the other hand is a more personal experience, can be watched on your phone or laptop. Having said that, certain people are taking advantage of the same.  Like while I appreciate the creative freedom of   Ram Gopal Varma for showing nude girls in the promo, I personally feel it was not needed. On the other hand in my show, if you have sexual scenes, you will need to show the act right (but in my case nothing is shown).  There is a very thin line but yes is very distinct.

How do you see the digital scene panning? 

In a very big way.  And it is not only about shows with sexual connotation, you will have all types of content e.g while having shows akin to popular Pakistani dramas  Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Humsafar, we might even toy with the idea of a desi Game of Thrones, yes the scale might not be as big as its international avatar.  The budgets are already are becoming bigger with international players like Netflix and Amazon Prime making desi content.

Will broadcast-digital ever synergize?

Those who think like this are fools for both the mediums are different not only in terms of technology but also audience profile. Future players need to be very clear about who digital caters to, which is poles apart from your wider ambit broadcast viewership.

You had earlier made path breaking content for youth channels, so you are taking the saga ahead with new media?

Yes I have always pushed the envelope even on broadcast, but there were restriction which I could not cross. I am more free on digital to talk about the hidden desires of desi youth.

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