I always felt out of place with my theatre friends, says Sujay Dahake
Director-writer Sujay Dahake has studied cinema rather closely and passionately. The National Award winner, however has one regret.The fact that he did not explore theatre, always troubled him. Growing up in Pune, his tryst with theatre came when he watched his friends perform on stage.
In an attempt to explore theatre, Dahake decided to use the subject as the plot for his debut web directorial, ‘Sex, Drugs and Theatre’. Dahake says, “Growing up in the city, I have seen my friends explore theatre and watched them perform too. Also, 90 per cent of the Marathi film industry comes with a theatre background. Hence, I have felt left out over the years.”
Even before he made Shala (2012), Dahake would accompany his friends to watch their plays in the city. “The thought of theatre was always at the back of my head. I felt that maybe I am not doing something as creative as these guys. This is where the hook point of the series came.The city plays a pivotal role in it series and depicts how the protagonists find their way through their narrative.”
The web is a new medium, but Dahake shares that his approach as a director remained the same. However, what changed was, according to him, directing a web show is a mechanical job as compared to film. In a film, you shoot two or three scenes in a day, whereas here you are on to six scenes per day. “In a web series, all the discussions and suggestions have to happen before the shoot. On the other hand, in a film you can work with a scene for a while. It was challenging because I had to change the screenplay grammar, accordingly. In a normal film, one hour typically the first half. But here, this logic has to be applied differently for per episode. I had to change the dynamics of the start, middle and the end.”
Dahake shares how the students chosen for the series, are stereotypes that he sketched in the script. “We have 20-year-olds say, ‘I will direct a play’, I find that pretty obnoxious. Then I wasn’t aware of the dynamics such as the lead female actor and the director are always ‘friends’. Also, these kids take their relationships seriously beyond the stage as well. You can see so many examples of theatre artistes being married to each other.I wanted to highlight this drama of their lives too.”
Right from the name to the scenes and the language, the series does go all out. Dahake,was sceptical of being accepted, considering all his films so far have been widely appreciated. “The idea was to go all out. The question, however was, can we go all out aesthetically? Shooting sex scenes is a stressful job. It is a close shot and you are trying to imbibe eroticism in the scene, but in reality it ends up looking bland and fake while shooting. We have pushed boundaries and spent a lot of time ensuring these scenes look neat. We watched a lot of Spanish films where sex scenes look very much like a part of the narrative opposed to back home where they look raw and dirty.”