Ever since he stepped into Bollywood, film director Apoorva Lakhia has been associated with action thrillers (Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost, Shootout at Lokhandwala, Mission Istaanbul, Zanjeer). He says this is because action is all he is offered, even if he goes to a producer with a romantic script.
Now, Lakhia is bringing his expertise and experience in the action genre to the OTT space, with Voot Select’s web series Crackdown.
In a recent interview with indianexpress.com, Lakhia talked about Crackdown, the casting for the web series and the digital medium.
Excerpts from the conversation.
How and when did the idea for Crackdown originate?
About a year ago, I met the people at Voot. They wanted to do something that looked different from the bouquet of shows they had. They were in talks with various directors, and they thought if I made an action drama kind of a show, it might fit in their plan. So we started talking, and then Suresh Nair came up with this basic storyline which we decided was a good way to go forward. That’s when Crackdown started.
The elements of thrill, crime, suspense, terrorism are dominating the web space currently. Crackdown also has all of these. So, what about the web series makes it different?
Crackdown is a contemporary show, unlike the other shows set in the interiors of rural India. We have based our show in cities. It’s an espionage thriller which does not have much family drama. So, there was a conscious decision to hire me as a director and bring back my films into the OTT space. I wouldn’t say that my show is any different from anybody else’s, but I would say that the treatment of the show is different from everything else.
You have been very particular when it comes to the casting of your projects. What thought went behind casting every actor of Crackdown?
While we were working on the script, the characters started developing, and I called up a couple of people like Rajesh Tailang, Iqbal Khan and others. I told them, ‘I’m doing my first web show. Would you be interested in working with me?’ Once I got a heads-up from them, I started researching more on them and getting their flavour into the script.
I’m a big fan of Shriya Pilgaonkar. In Divya (the character Shriya plays), we wanted a simple Maharashtrian woman who is believable. If we had a different girl, the simplicity that Shreya brings to the screen wouldn’t have come out. As far as Saqib is concerned, we needed a rough and tough guy with a cocky attitude. We have tried to take actors who fit the roles. People kept saying Iqbal Khan is a TV actor. But how does that matter if he’s a good actor? And Rajesh Tailang is the Amitabh Bachchan of the web space.
Crackdown’s basic plot is similar to Disney Plus Hotstar’s Special Ops. Do you fear comparisons?
Special Ops, Bard of Blood are in my category. So, obviously, you will compare them with each other. But it’s about what nuance can you bring to the story. The basic plot will remain the same: there is a threat, your country is in danger and how you are battling the threat. I can just treat it differently.
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Loyal, man of his word, with balls of steel, someone who cares a f*** about what you think about his opinion and a rockstar. Apu saaaar you have made a kick ass show. #CrackdownOnVoot directed by @lakhiaapoorva streaming now only on @vootselect . @bachchan @amitabhbachchan @suniel.shetty @duttsanjay @alwaysramcharan @shraddhakapoor @priyankachopra @vivekoberoi
So far, you have made films for the silver screen. Was it difficult to develop story and characters for the web?
We really worked on how to attract them to the second episode after the first one and subsequently to the third and fourth one. We wanted to make sure our audience is glued for four and a half hours. It was a very conscious decision that we were not going to have any episode over 30 minutes. For us, the hook points and the peeling of layers was important.
Most of your films have been action thrillers. So is Crackdown. Do you have some fondness towards the genre?
Actually, this is all people offer me. I wanted to try a romantic film. I went to a big producer with the script. He asked me for a narration and after hearing it, laughed on my face. He then gave me his script, where in the first scene itself, people were getting shot. So, this is what I get and this is what I make.
But there’s always that urge to do something different. That’s why I decided to move to the web to see how it works here. And I honestly enjoyed making it. My show is a simple, clean show. It’s not something in which you have to think and put your mind to.
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