It’s been close to a month since Netflix dropped the final episodes of Selection Day. The series brought alive the struggles of two brothers who are budding cricketers. Adapted from Aravind Adiga’s celebrated novel of the same name, the series starred Karan Malhotra, Yash Dholye, Mohammad Samad and Rajesh Tailang among others.
In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Selection Day Part 2 director Karan Boolani spoke about the advantages of having young protagonists, prism of sexuality in the series, producer Anil Kapoor and more.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. Selection Day has been seen by the world. How satisfied are you with the response?
I am very satisfied. They saw the second part and did connect to the whole story. I am now excited for more. We are working on a bunch of other stuff for Netflix. It is actually a very good time to tell stories that the whole world can connect with.
Q. How difficult is it to adapt a show from a book?
I believe every book is an inspiration. It should speak to you about its themes and world. When you adapt it, of course, there is a lot of dramatisation of plots. Also, with movies, it is easier as you can have a beginning, middle and end. With television, the story should never end. And so it is important to have strong characters. Their sub-plot helps to keep the drama going along. I don’t know if it is difficult or easy. It is all about the passion to go along.
Q. Was it always the plan to make Selection Day a web series?
Yes, that was the idea. It is always an opportunity to invest in young characters. Look at Games of Thrones, the young kids are creating all the drama. I enjoy this space and it gives me a chance to tell the story the way I want.
Q. You have earlier directed 24 which was also episodic. How different is the experience compared to a film?
Well, I haven’t done a film so I don’t know what’s that like. But I always feel with films, sometimes it becomes a lot more personal. With television, you can come in as a director, do your job and leave. There’s also an opportunity to showrun it or be a creative producer. For me personally, I like to be part of everything from the foundation. Also getting other directors helps me in writing or developing the second half.
Q. You keep referring to web shows as television. But tell me, what’s your take on the entire digital boom?
It is a wonderful opportunity, to say the least. Also, I keep calling it TV because it is never-ending content. The web is just the platform. I feel it gives one a chance to explore characters. We have had villains like Pablo Escobar who we love. Even in Selection Day, Mohan is a horrible dad, but we do discover a human side of him towards the end. All he wanted was the best for his kids, probably he doesn’t know how to do it. So on television or the web, the story can surprise the audience. It gives scope to turn villains into heroes. Also, with web, it gives an opportunity to take your story to different corners of the world.
Q. Netflix is an expensive platform and has a niche audience. Does that affect the choices of stories you make?
Honestly, it is really about a good story. The show has reached places that have never seen cricket. So it is important to create a balance. One has to choose subjects that can be communicated to everyone. It really doesn’t matter where the stories are coming from.
Q. You had a good mix of newcomers and veterans in Selection Day. How was the experience working with them?
I think we were very lucky with the cast. It is always a gamble with kids as you don’t know if they will be able to run the long marathon. Will they have the stamina to carry on with long shoots and in this case, cricket too. But we were fortunate with our young boys. As for Mahesh (Manjrekar) and Ratna (Pathak Shah), they were just too good. They bring a lot to the table. And the best part was that everyone was in the service to the story. No one was trying to outshine each other.
Q. While there was an undertone of homosexuality between the characters of Manju and Javed, you did not go full out with the emotions. Why so?
In the book, the blend of cricket and sexuality was one of the things that really attracted me. It has never been touched upon. When you are in school, and young, there’s no awareness of sexuality. With boys, when they win a cricket match, they jump on each other but that doesn’t mean anything. But when a boy softly touches another’s cheek, it feels different. We wanted to explore that sexuality in general. Why that touch means something different. In an age and especially in a certain world (like Manju’s), the idea of a boy liking him is absurd. So what does one do with that feeling? We wanted to raise questions around that. So there was more mystery than a conclusion, just like adolescent confusion.
Q. You have directed Anil Kapoor earlier. But how is he as a producer?
He is just excellent. He is so experienced and just gives you a lot of freedom to make your mistakes and learn from them. I have not done a lot of work and it would have been hard if I was completely squashed and not gotten a chance to learn. He has a very nurturing quality in him and it’s not just with me but whoever has worked with him, will say the same thing. He was always guiding us around.
Q. On a personal front, there is also much said and written about your impending wedding with Rhea Kapoor. What is the status on that?
As of now, it is only work for me. I am writing and doing many shows. Marriage will happen in its own time.