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Watch: How Vikramaditya Motwane, Anurag Kashyap shared directing duties on Netflix’s Sacred Games

The two filmmakers revealed their processes on the long-in-the-making online series which was launched worldwide on Netflix.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Sonal Pandya

Sacred Games, the first Indian original series by streaming service Netflix, received a massive platform when it was released worldwide on 6 July. A cinematic adaptation of the 900-page novel by Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games is available to view around the world with subtitles in Russian, Finnish, Arabic, French, Hebrew, Spanish, German, Dutch, Polish, Turkish, Chinese, Romanian, Swedish, Norwegian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Italian, and Brazilian Portuguese.

The eight episode series is directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap. As the series is now out, the directors revealed how Phantom Films was approached to helm the adaptation and how they divided up their directing duties.

In a recent online interview with VICE India, Motwane said that Netflix is the one who got in touch with them to partner on the series. Sacred Games was announced in 2016 and it took them nearly a year with the writers to chart out the series and future seasons in mind.

In another Hindustan Times interview, Kashyap revealed that years ago, he had been approached by other producers, filmmaker Ridley Scott and American channel AMC, who were interested in adapting Chandra’s book. However, they wanted to retain the novel’s English tone which didn’t work for Kashyap.

“I never want to do anything based in India in English,” Kashyap told Hindustan Times. Thankfully, author Chandra agrees with the decision to change the language, as he admitted in an interview that the characters in Sacred Games “talk the way Indians talk.”

Motwane and Kashyap divided directing duties as the story deals with two parallel stories and two diverse characters, Sartaj Singh (played by Saif Ali Khan) and Ganesh Gaitonde (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Motwane directed the portions starring Khan, while Kashyap directed the ones with Siddiqui, whom he’s often worked with in the past.

Earlier, Motwane told The Telegraph that the reason behind the directing split. "We just directed two different timelines, threw it against the wall to see what stuck. It was deliberate, we wanted two different feels for two different characters," he shared.

Kashyap said he took more of a backseat on this project, just showing up to direct his portions. Motwane was more of a showrunner on Sacred Games.

“Showrunner is the man who actually gives the most time. In the sense, he sat down, he created the writer’s room, he dealt with Netlfix. I actually came on board after Saif, after Radhika [Apte], after Nawaz,” he said.

Motwane felt that he was more controlling as a showrunner and Kashyap would be better at it than him, since he lets a lot of people be. Surprisingly, they never showed up on each other’s sets.

During the VICE India interview, Kashyap also said that he directed the series like he was making a movie. While Motwane highlighted that in a series, it’s much more about the actors’ performances and bringing them out. Motwane felt this is a lesson that they should take back into feature films.

Kashyap also said that he moves on from a project once it’s done. That’s largely due to the fact that his first film, Paanch (2003), took a long time to be released and he was tied emotionally to it. Motwane too agreed with Kashyap’s outlook by saying there is not much to be done once it’s filmed.

“I think what Netflix takes away is that anger we all end up having on Friday and Saturday towards the entire fact that the film could have been better marketed, better distributed and all that stuff,” Motwane noted.

Interestingly, Kashyap said their fans, mostly cinema literate, aren’t waiting to see their films on the first Friday of release.

“For our films, the word of mouth builds up, one big massive superstar film comes out and throws it out of the theatre,” the director said, revealing that Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) had to bow out of theatres to make room for Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger (2012).

With Sacred Games, the audience can watch it whenever they want, it will be there for them, whenever they want it.

The series, which also stars a strong supporting cast of Neeraj Kabi, Pankaj Tripathi, Surveen Chawla, Geetanjali Thapa, Rajshri Deshpande and Kubraa Sait, doesn’t have a second season as yet. But with the positive reaction to Sacred Games in India and abroad, the possibility is likely.