Raghu Ram and Rajiv Lakshman of Roadies and Splitsvilla fame have now created an Amazon Original series. They tell Anita Britto why no one but them could have conceptualised an edgy show like Skulls & Roses
How did you come on board for Skulls & Roses?
Rajiv Lakshman (RL): We did not come on board, we have created this format like we have created the other formats like Splitsvilla or Roadies…
Raghu Ram (RR): (Cuts in) All the shows we come on board for are created by us and this has been created with Amazon Prime.
RL: Actually, we were looking at digital content and we realised that in fiction many frontiers have been breached but nothing much has happened with regard to the genre of unscripted drama and I think we are the right people to do that. We had to figure what is it that we can bring that would redefine...
RR: Jo 15 saalon mein nahi hua…
RL: That took us a lot of time to think and figure out about this show. After that, we were wondering where would we put this content because it is a very expensive show. It is a very edgy show
RR: Yes, the vision is grand and edgy.
RL: Lot of OTTs couldn’t do this. Fortunately, we got in collaboration with Amazon for Skulls & Roses and in fact, they were an integral part of developing the whole show with us. It is tailor-made for us. There are two aspects of Skulls & Roses; there is romance and then there is action, adventure, toughness. No one other than us could have done this show.
RR: I don’t think anyone else could have even imagined and created this show other than us.
But the thought must have come from somewhere. What was the inspiration?
RL: There is a certain insight. When you are connected to the youth, you are able to understand their unarticulated problems. You know what their conflicts are and what their mood is. And that is what we want to bring out in an entertaining manner through this format. So there is a dichotomy that is there in their minds. And on the show, they will understand that this is the conflict they struggle with in life.
RR: At another level, it was very important for us to make a show that cannot be made on television. It had to be a show that you would not be able to watch on TV because if it could be on TV then it would not be on Amazon Prime. We have created this show, which will give you enjoyment and at the same time shock you at regular intervals.
We have seen the trailer…
RL: The trailer is kiddish since we have made it for everyone. But what is your question?
Tell us about the format.
RR: There are no teams, there is one punch from me and one from Rajiv and in between are the contestants! I am the skull and he is the rose.
RL: Don’t look at this show as a format that there are one or two teams. This is a story that is set in a world of its own, a world that has never been seen before at all. It is that story.
RR: A lot of people have asked us, if this show is like this show or like that show. We would like to say, this is unlike any other show you might have seen, this is a first.
RL: When we were starting the show, I had typed this on the computer “How can you win the show if being a couple is the only way that you can compete, but survival happens only alone. What will you do?’ That was one thought.
RR: Love is the way forward and the stumbling block.
RL: You cannot stand up without love, and when you do, we will push you down.
RR: Let me tell you something. Whatever you see on this show, everything that happens on the show is real. People fell in love, there is a love triangle. Everything that happened, it happened for real and in the last episode there is a big and shocking twist and whoever watches it, will be shaken. And those who see it, we don’t want them to share it. This is a spoiler you cannot give out.
How do you approach the contestants, do you discuss beforehand or it is spontaneous?
RR: See we have created the space- a rose island and a skull island. What we are on those islands, only that is scripted. We play ourselves, rather an exaggerated version of ourselves. The rest is completely unscripted. Everything that happens on that island and in the show is all in the spur of the moment. Nothing has been practised or discussed beforehand.
RL: We are creating a world that has two completely different places, skull island and rose island. To give life to these places, I have to become rose island and he has to become skull island. That was our approach.
Are there any measures that you took for this show since it’s on a digital platform?
RL: Nothing at all. Jo hum ko chahiye tha humne kiya.
RR: Obviously there is common-sense censorship about what we should show and what we shouldn’t. But Amazon released us from all shackles and gave us full liberty with this show. Till today if you thought that we are controversial or edgy, then that has been us with certain boundaries and restrictions. We are beyond that. If on television we came across as controversial and edgy, then this is the digital space. Now we have to see if we are edgy enough for digital or are we too edgy for the digital space as well! You see the show and tell us.