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Interview Bengali Hindi

Was challenging to stick to story's pulse for 400 running minutes, says Lalbazaar director Sayantan Ghosal

The Zee5 original crime series, starring Hrishita Bhatt, Kaushik Sen, Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Gaurav Chakraborty among others, will release on the OTT platform on 19 June.

Roushni Sarkar

Lalbazaar, Zee5's original crime series directed by Sayantan Ghosal is all set to release on the OTT platform on 19 June. Featuring Kaushik Sen, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Gaurav Chakraborty, Sauraseni Mitra, Subrata Dutta, Hrishita Bhatt, Bidipta Chakraborty and Ronjini Chakraborty, the show investigates a spate of crimes committed in the heart of Kolkata.

Lalbazaar is Ghosal’s first web-series made on such a large scale. He has previously directed three seasons of Byomkesh on the famous literary detective and two other series, titled Dark Web and Shesh Theke Shuru.

In a conversation with Cinestaan.com, Ghoshal shared the challenges he faced during the making of Lalbazaar and his future projects.

How was the experience of directing such a large-scale project?

Indeed, it was an unique experience to work on such a large-scale project. At the end of the series, we found out that we had worked with almost all the best Bengali character actors and shot in almost all the locations possible in Kolkata. We started working on the pre-production exactly a year ago. I learnt in this journey, with both good and bad experiences.

I have mostly been making films, and this was my first web-series of such a scale. Most of the series that I made for Hoichoi were not made for a long duration. Also, I got introduced to a corporate style of working.

The series has a huge star cast. Was it difficult to handle all the actors on the floor?

Honestly, it was not a big issue. I have been working with senior actors from the very beginning of my career. I have worked with the lead actors Kaushik Sen, Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Gaurav Chakraborty in quite a few projects. Among the artistes from Mumbai, I have worked with Subrat Dutta before. He has played Ajit in my Byomkesh Bakshi series. Hrishita Bhatt had a rather brief appearance compared to the others. She came twice to complete the shooting and we bonded well in that short span of time.

However, the most challenging aspect was to stick to the pulse of the story for 400 running minutes. It was difficult to maintain the individual stories of all the characters as well.

Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Kaushik Sen in a still from the series

How was the process of developing the script for the series?

Rangan Chakraborty has written the script of the film. We used to have continuous discussions from the time of forming the idea of the series. We also spoke to the police and people acquainted with the police, along with incorporating stories inspired from real-life crime incidents to retain a realistic approach in dealing with crime sequences. We generally turn crime detection sequences into larger than life events. However, we had a very clear vision to avoid such an approach from the very beginning for authenticity's sake. And I hope that will make the series a little different from various others.

We worked on the script for a long time and also made changes while shooting the series. We reshot some of the sequences that required changes while watching the rush.

Crime shows with a lot of violence are getting very popular in recent times. Lalbazaar too follows a similar format. What are your thoughts on that?

Yes, there is no denying that crime series receive immense popularity. Perhaps, people want to watch more of such content. And because of the viewership, we too are investing in such content. But honestly, I don’t think we have shown unnecessary violence, sexuality or use of abusive language in the series. We have incorporated the elements only to meet the demand of authenticity of the plot. The series is not thoroughly dark, there are moments of humour as well. The audience will also enjoy the Bengali nostalgia in it.

People are heavily dependant on web-content since theatres are shut due to the lockdown. Do you think this can prove to be an advantage for the series?

I think it could have been an advantage had the series released in the beginning or in the middle of the lockdown. It will release on 19 June, and by then we will start going out, I guess. It won’t matter because web-series have become popular before, without the lockdown.

Subrat Dutta in a still from the series

New guidelines are going to be introduced for shooting films after the lockdown. How are you looking at the future?

I haven’t worked in the industry for a long time but I have realised that we generally tend to adapt. Nothing is more precious than saving lives. We all are in a lot of doubt now regarding how things are going to work out. Now guidelines are mostly being decided for television shootings not for films. Let’s see what happens. I am hopeful that decisions will be taken keeping in mind everyone's best interests.

What about your future projects?

I was mostly busy with Lalbazaar till now. I have completed shooting Tenida and Co and was full-fledged into post-production before the lockdown. I need to complete that first and think of its release too. I don’t know what the situation of theatres will be during Pujas. The plan for making a second Byomkesh Bakshi film is still on, let’s see how it goes.

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