“This is something I have never done before, so it’s really exciting,” shared Javed Akhtar, while talking about Voot’s upcoming web series Barefoot 11. At the sidelines of the launch of the new Voot originals, the veteran writer spoke exclusively to indianexpress.com about his debut as a writer in the digital space.
Akhtar shared that the prime reason for taking up Barefoot 11 was the opportunity to experiment with a new format. “It was really exciting. I have done a lot of film screenplays but writing for a web series is a different ball game altogether. It has a very different and dramatic structure. Writing for web facilitates you but also adds more responsibilities. Unlike films, you have a lot of time to play around with the script. But will you be capable to keep the audience interested for so long? That’s the real challenge. It tests you to write episodes that will keep one hooked throughout.” the ace screenwriter-lyricist shared in an exclusive chat.
Barefoot 11 will present the story of two Indians, a Hindu and a Muslim, who unite a divided India, reeling under the partition, through soccer. The show will go on floors soon and celebrate the golden era of Indian football in the country.
Talking about the series, Javed Akhtar said, “As the name suggests, it’s about 11 football players. And barefoot not only symbolises them playing without shoes but that there was nothing between them and their land. It’s much more than just a sports story. It’s an uplifting tale that will make you feel proud of your nation.”
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With the series being a period drama, we asked Akhtar about the challenges of writing a historical. He said, “It is paradoxical in a way. When we were doing Lagaan’s music, we had to make songs that seemed to be sung by villagers. But our audience was urban. So it was a challenge to create a balance. Similarly, when you are writing a historical, it has to match with time. What has been done 25 years back, wouldn’t work today. The tempo, pitch and energy level are different. We cannot let it be out of sync. Even when it comes to words, you sometimes have to imagine that maybe they spoke this way. The sense of history has to be there but taking in view the comprehension of the younger generation. Trust me, it’s like walking a tightrope.”
Akhtar further shared that web series is no longer an experiment for filmmakers. “There are so many original series being made. And I must add the standard is superb. There’s so much for the audience to consume. I have been hooked to quite a few of them. Personally, House of Cards remains at the top till now. I am eagerly waiting for its next season, which is supposedly its last. I am amazed to find so many well-written shows on the web.”
Javed Akhtar’s children Zoya and Farhan have also ventured into the digital space with Inside Edge, Mirzapur and Made in Heaven. When we asked Akhtar if we will see him collaborating with them, the proud father smiled to say, “Yes, of course. Very soon.”
Voot, the digital wing of Viacom 18, announced 18 multi-lingual originals across different genres in an event in Mumbai on Thursday.