Creative Producer of Panorama Studios, Vignesh Shetty, for the first time embarked on the journey of turning Writer and Director with the web-series streaming presently on Hungama Play, titled Bar Code.
Panorama Studios has been a big player in the Bollywood space having produced movies like Raid, Drishyam, Omkara, Special Chabbis, Pyaar Ka Punchnama 1 & 2 etc. Helmed by Producers Kumar Mangat Pathak and Abhishek Pathak, the renowned production house has forayed into the digital space for the first time with this web-series.
In an exclusive interview with Writer and Director, Bar Code, Vignesh Shetty, IWMBuzz.com gives loyal readers intricate details on the making of the series, the thought behind it and on the fabulous star cast.
How was it to write this remarkable story of Bar Code?
There is a saying among writers that when you are starting off, you should write what you know. This is something every writer will tell you. I am somebody who clubs a lot. I have been doing this for a long time and I love doing it even now. I like that world and I have friends who are nightclub owners. Not many people know what goes on behind-the-scenes in this business. Over the years, I have wondered how come nobody ever told a story that is set in the world of nightclubs. This kind of triggered the thought, and then I had to go about and figure out a story. Once I had my lead characters, their friendship, they going separate, their egos, rivalry and their relationships with their women, I put all of it together to create an interesting story. It took me almost 8-9 months to write the script.
Tell us about the process that was involved into getting this interesting cast?
I was very clear that we had to get the cast right. We thought through everything and worked on the casting. Few of the characters took a long time to get finalized, while few in the cast happened really quickly.
One of the first actors I finalized for the show was Akshay Oberoi for Sahil. If you have seen the show, Sahil is a very suave, sophisticated, South Mumbai character. Obviously the character had to have a lot of class. The way he talks, his posture etc can only be played by a person who can understand the character and deliver that. Akshay and myself didn’t know
each other. Our Casting Director introduced him to me. When we sat together, we did not talk about the story or character. I wanted to know more about him. When I got to know his background, and he being well travelled, having lived abroad etc, I got a clear idea of where he is coming from. I noticed his mannerisms and found that he could pull off playing a sophisticated guy. I had a few things very specific in my head and I had to mould him accordingly and he gave me what I wanted. I am very happy for Akshay. He is so talented and has been in the business for sometime. I think his time has come. The years to come are going to be very interesting for his career.
As for Karan Wahi, he was one of the names suggested by my Producer Abhishek. I don’t watch TV, so I had no idea. I googled him and found that he is a TV star. When I met Karan, he looked like a person who could get into a fight with anyone for no reason. Ha! He is a charming guy no doubt, but there is an aggressive vibe about him. When I spent time talking to him, looking at his demeanour, I thought he is the right guy to play Vicky. As you know, Vicky is a very impulsive, edgy character who is up to something always. His character has so many layers and he has done a great job. The girls have done a fabulous job too. Rhea’s character played by Simran Kaur Mundi has come out very well. I actually took a long time in finalizing the actor for this character. Rhea is a very complex character, and I auditioned a lot of known actresses and I wasn’t impressed. Abhishek suggested Simran’s name among a few other names which is a standard process during casting. Co-incidentally, I had seen her at the premiere of Pyaar Ka Puncnama and had noticed that she has an interesting face and personality. So we met and we did an audition and she nailed it. Parina was new. She was introduced to me by my Casting Director. My first impression when I saw her was that she looked exactly like how I imagined Minaz to be. She had to become Minaz inside out. We did a lot of workshops, she worked very hard and she has done a very good job.
So have you taken few real life incidents that you have observed, into the story line?
Yes, few scenes in Bar Code have been taken from real life situations that have happened in Mumbai. I have been in Mumbai for 20 years now. And I have seen and heard various incidents happening between club owners, between people coming to the clubs and between rival clubs. The rest is all fiction.
Coming back to Bar Code, it was shot sometime last year. So why has there been a delay in its launch?
We had shot nearly 50% of our show, after which both our actors got busy with their respective projects. There were some date logistics that took a while to come together. And the second reason was that I did not want to hurry up on my post-production. I really wanted to take time on my editing, music. There are a lot of things that happen in the post-production which can actually make a show come out great. I have actually seen a lot of shows which are shot so fast and have come out so fast. I just feel that not enough time has been given to these projects. I did not want to make the same mistake. So I took almost 7 months just to get my editing, sound design and every small thing to be as perfect as it can be before it came out.
Today, people are talking and raving about the product being so stylish and flawless. All this cannot happen if you hurry up on the process of putting it out. If you want a good product, you will have to give it the extra time. I am thankful to my Producer Abhishek Pathak for believing in me. He knew that my intentions were right. He knew that however long I took was for the best interest of the show. And now when we are complimented for the good quality product, it gives us the satisfaction we have always worked for.
As a writer what is the genre that you love?
It has to be Drama. Cinema and storytelling is all about drama. You can do any genre, but the bottom line is always drama. If there is no drama, there is no story.
What did you expect from this journey and your thoughts now?
For a director, his first film or show is always special. What you learn after every experience is what you take home. I take all of the learnings from this experience and move forward to the next.
What is in the pipeline next?
I am currently scripting a feature film which I will direct. Separately, as a Creative Producer, we have a good lineup of films coming up. We have a Aneez Bazmee film with John Abraham starting in January. Also we have an intense courtroom drama with Akshaye Khanna and Richa Chaddha going on floors this month.
Any plans for Bar Code Season 2?
As for Season 2, we will wait and watch to know how big it becomes. It has been received very well. Shows usually take 4-5 months to become what they eventually become. Contentwise, the audience and the industry are talking about Bar Code in the same breath as a few other successful shows that have come out from India which had huge marketing budgets and bigger star cast.
Can we expect more content from Panorama Studios on the digital space in the time to come?
Absolutely! We are very bullish about web content. A lot of major platforms, local and international have approached us to make interesting content. So we will be developing content for them. You will be hearing a lot from Panorama by February next year.
Having been part of the big screen as well as the web space, how different is the filming for films when compared to the web?
The process of making them is the same. A regular Hindi film is usually 2 to 2 and half hours long. In the web space, if you are talking about let’s say 25 minutes per episode, we are shooting for nearly about 4 hours long content for 10 episodes So for the web, we definitely shoot more as the content is more. That is the only practical change when compared to films. More importantly, there is no other difference except the writing. In the web space, the screenplay is written for each episode wherein characters are more flushed out and a hook point exists at the end of every episode. But in films, you work on a different story structure. There is a start to the story, and we build it up till the midway creating a highpoint around the interval. And then you have the second half and the climax. There are some standard rules that we follow for a film. Otherwise, the casting, post production and all other creative and technical processes are pretty much the same for films and web except the number of days of shooting, and the medium of output for theatrical release and online release. Bottomline, everything boils down to good story telling, whether it is films or shows.
What are your thoughts on the booming digital platform?
Today with the boom of data availability for the average consumer and with their interest in shows, it is a fantastic time. Lot of new-age writers, directors who probably did not get opportunities or the finances to tell their story for films will emerge with their unique ideas and stories on the web space. The net content watcher watches all kinds of content and lot of opportunities will be made available. We are going to see lot of exciting content and the digital space is no more the future. It is the present.