Efforts are on to make Sacred Games, an upcoming Netflix original series based in and shot in India, compelling enough to get the Indian audiences hooked to the medium, says filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane, who is working behind-the-scenes on the show.
Based on Indian author Vikram Chandra’s novel of the same name, it will feature Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan in the lead role to tell the story of the intricate web of organised crime, corruption, politics and espionage that lie beneath India’s economic renaissance.
Asked if the series will be like a guinea pig in the Indian market, Motwane said, “Absolutely yes, in a way… It’s like a guinea pig in the Indian market. The pressure is on us to deliver a great show, and for Netflix too to deliver a great show so that people come and watch it.” Motwane is part of the Phantom Films banner, which is co-producing the series with Netflix. He says it’s nascent days for the web series and the on-demand streaming medium in India.
“If you look back at the British, they have been doing series for years since the 1980s… Americans have been doing quality TV since the 1990s and this streaming thing is going to boom… Of course, a House of Cards works, Netflix works because of a culture of watching content like The Sopranos, The Wire, Lost, Prison Break, 24, and The West Wing — all great shows over the years.
“There’s a culture of watching such content. We don’t have that culture in India… It’s developing, and we hope it works,” added the director of Hindi films Udaan, Lootera and Trapped. For now, he feels it’s a “fantastic” idea to have Saif on board for Sacred Games. “I think we need it (the presence of a star) because we need to sell the medium. At this point of time, it’s not so much about the show. There’s more pressure on us to be able to sell a medium of watching something and to be able to sell something we’re not used to watching,” Motwane said.
Creatively, he feels it’s a “great time”, but “the business has to work”, he asserted. “We need to be able to have that killer show that ends up creating a generation of audience. And having stars on board definitely helps you go out there and push the envelope and get an audience to watch it, because they watch stars,” said Motwane, remaining tight-lipped on the budget of the show.
Meanwhile, Netflix has also announced two more Netflix original shows from India. The first one titled “Selection Day” is based on the book by author Aravind Adiga, and will deal with cricket and corruption. And the second one is Again, a supernatural, female-led detective series set in New Delhi and written by Marisha Mukerjee, who also wrote Quantico.