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Raising The Bar

Producer Abhishek Pathak and writer-director Vignesh Shetty talk to Bhavi Gathani about the process of making the web series Bar Code and the future of OTT

Bar Code is the first web show of Panorama Studios. What sort of response have you received?

Abhishek Pathak (AP): No one expects any response. People just make good content. When we started making this show, we knew we were making something new and different. We never thought we would receive such a good response.

Vignesh Shetty (VS): To be very honest, nobody can ever predict the results. We just put in our best to get the best content out there. But, sure, we were confident about it. All through the making and the post-production, when we saw it in the office, various people and groups watched it and everyone was quite positive about it. The rest is always up to the audience.

Vignesh, since you also wrote the story of Bar Code, what was the process of translating the story from a script to visual material?

VS: Again, that is a combination of so many elements coming together. It’s the performances, the actors bringing in their own energy to the characters. Then there is music and the production design of the show. This show was about nightclubs and we shared the same vision about shooting in real and plush night clubs. I am very grateful to Abhishek for this. We didn’t want to make it look like a bad set. So we shot in real night clubs, we got the music going on for a very long time. We spent a lot of time in each of the various streams that goes into making quality content. That’s pretty much what comes through and what people are appreciating.

Abhishek, you said you wanted to show something very uber, a real world story behind these clubs, which was never shown before. What are the challenges you faced while doing this?

AP: The most important part while you are planning a show is to get real locations and real people. We cannot shoot in a club that does not have a large crowd; that would look fake. After everything is in place… the cast and locations, eventually it comes down to how we make it. We had a great script at our disposal and I loved it from the first read. We have provided people what they wanted to see, whether real locations, a real feel of the club or the fight between the characters, with a nice backdrop.

VS: Whenever you set out to tell a story, you have to get the world it is set in, right. This applies to any show, any film, where the script is the most important thing. And, yes, you cast the right people, get everything else in place. But it is also very important for filmmakers to get the world correct if it is about a certain backdrop. And that’s the biggest challenge. I am sure Abhishek would agree. When people watch the show, they are saying this really looks like a South Bombay nightclub.

AP: We paid attention to small details, like costumes. These details helped us make it look very authentic.

While making Bar Code, did you know this was being made for the online platform? How do you bifurcate?

VS: It was always planned as a web show when I pitched the one-liner to Abhishek. He loved it and had the vision to understand that there was a story here and there was a world that had not been explored at all in the Indian space. That’s how I started writing it.

AP: It was never meant to be a film. There is a huge movie-going audience, so they go to theatres on weekdays and holidays. But there are also people who work long hours and who watch these shows on their phone or laptops on their way back home. We have a huge audience. Anyway, we have these two different types of audience and you just have to figure out what kind of elements your content has to have. So, yes, we were very clear that Bar Code was always meant to be a web show; it was never meant to be a film.

Nowadays, there are numerous Indian shows on the web platform. How do you see the future of the web space in the coming years?

AP: It’s very huge. The web audience is way bigger than it appears to be. We are talking about a country which still doesn’t have electricity in major places, let alone mobile networks or the Internet. Maybe five years down the line these facilities will reach people in those parts of the country and we might get a much bigger audience to consume our product.

VS: We are in the biggest metropolis of the country. We are seeing the world from where we are but what is happening in the hinterland, what is happening on the outskirts of Faridabad, what is happening on the outskirts of Indore, what are they watching, are they watching the international shows that we do? I doubt it. They are probably watching the shows that local platforms are providing. And that’s a large audience that’s out there.

And, finally, what is in the pipeline for both of you?

AP: It takes a long time to develop a web series, so we have a couple of things in the pipeline. For films, we are shooting Singham, the Punjabi remake, and there is a film called Section 375, which will be going on the floors next month. In January, we have a film with Anees Bazmee and John Abraham. So we have three films lined up right now. And there is another film, a horror film, which might go on the floors around March. It is an official remake of a Malayalam film.

VS: I am currently scripting a feature film, which he is producing and will take four to five months. I will also be directing the film. Anyway, we have the three films he mentioned. We have our hands full.

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