As the very common saying goes ‘TV is writer’s medium, Theatre is actor’s medium and Film is a director’s medium’. A small web-series like ‘RANJISH’ is more similar to film than television. However, as someone who wrote and directed it, I had to shoulder the maximum responsibility of the series. Having said that, nothing like this is possible without collaborative effort from many people. And RANJISH would not have been possible if the producers, the cast and the crew had not put in their weight and support behind it to the best of their abilities.
The principal job of production has been handled by HUMARAMOVIE. Primarily known for short films, Humaramovie released their first collaborative film – Shuruaat Ka Interval on August 15, 2014. While there are four main producers – Vinay Mishra, Preety Ali, Pallavi Rohatgi, Raghavan Bharadwaj – the first two are the most active members. But RANJISH would not have seen the light of day if I hadn’t found a friend in Nachiket Rohit Chitre. I have always been fortunate to get the support and backing of my friends, especially Praveen Dhawan. However, the willingness and composure with which Nachiket agreed to finance half the budget of the series was pleasantly surprising to say the least. He is not in the business of movies and he knows that there is feeble chance for the series to recover the full investment, but he has never shown a moment of anxiety over what could be a completely sunk investment. As I say often, everyone should get friends like Praveen and Nachiket, but I should get a few more. 🙂
If there are people who signed the cheques, there are those who arranged everything involved in the making. And the two most prominent people in this role have been Abhishek Gautam and Sudeep Nigam. Associate Producer Abhishek has possibly the most thankless role in the entire thing – doing the dirty bargaining, making peace among people and streamlining the post-production, all this while putting up with my pushing him to do more. But Abhishek has tried to accommodate all my basic demands, and I know he had to do his share of convincing people in the process.
On the other hand, Executive Producer Sudeep was the main arranger for everything related to shoot. From the gorgeous Nigam bungalow in Marve to the lane in Whistling Woods International, from FTN in Malad west to the main music director, Jiten Singh, Sudeep found everything so effortlessly that it was almost incredible at times. He has been my go-to guy for a lot of things on the shoot, and RANJISH would not have looked half as professional if Sudeep were not there.
Additionally, Ershad Shaikh played a significant role in managing on-set production requirements and shooting the final montage sequence.
In Danny Boyle’s “Steve Jobs”, written extraordinarily by Aaron Sorkin, Michael Fassebender (who plays Steve Jobs) tells Seth Rogen (portraying the Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak) ‘You are a good musician… you sit right there, you are the best in your row… But I play the orchestra.’ It is a rather pompous reference to draw in, but the director on a film-set is truly the head of orchestra. He will fail the moment the technical heads do not deliver their best to the project. And through positive or negative motivation, a director strives to extract the best out of them.
I met Priyanka Singh, the Cinematographer, through a friend called Riju Samanta. Priyanka is a talented girl who has worked as the chief assistant on films like Shanghai, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy etc. It is thanks to her that Ranjish looks better than most Indian web-series, but she had to grapple with the logistical constraints in which the series was getting made. While the pressure of the job did make her temperamental at times, she strove to make the frames look as good as they could be. And the fact that she did most of it without any assistant is really commendable. I am sure if Priyanka had the resources she wanted, she could have made Ranjish look even better.
Ganesh Sapkal, Yogesh Dongarkar and Rameez K Zubair – technicians employed full-time with Humaramovie – did the bulk of the work for the post production. While Yogesh and Ganesh edited the series, Rameez and his assistant Sreejith did the entire sound mixing and design. Sadly though Rameez’s wish to do full-fledged foley remained unfulfilled due to lack of funds.
Jiten Singh and Shibasish Banerjee composed the background score for the series. While the latter did the music for the first two episodes but had to back out due to personal reasons, the former completed everything including the dialogue promo and the trailer. I have barely met someone as innocuous as Jiten in this industry.
The fact that Ranjish looks good has to be accredited to another person besides Priyanka. And that is my DI colorist – Arun Kataria. An ex-employee of Prime Focus studios and a current employee with some IT-type company in Powai, Arun collaborated earlier with Humaramovie in a few short films. But I can proudly say that none of those looked even remotely as interesting as Ranjish. What I have never understood about Arun, however, is when he sleeps. He works till 10 in the night even on normal days, goes to office again at 9 in the morning, and finds time to do colour correction overnight. So, when the hell does he have his dose of shut-eye?
It was the first time for Akriti Sahdev to manage costumes and art decoration, and she did it with full gusto. She wrote a beautiful poem for an important sequence but I couldn’t use it for some reason.
Pavi Trehan edited the first dialogue promo and the trailer, and did a splendid job, especially with the latter. She is an editor who likes to think on her own, and as an employee of Humaramovie once commented ‘She is possibly the most beautiful editor Bollywood has ever seen’
Harshita Vaishnav oversaw a lot of auditions and helped me find the heroine of my series – Ruchi Malviya, who plays Salma Ahmed.
Additionally, I must acknowledge the contribution of people like Anwar, Abhilash Aravindakshan, Abhinav Kannaujia, Joel Kaleeckal, Kiran Robin and Abhishek Chatterjee for their support.
PS: I know I was supposed to write the details of the cast and characters in this post. However, I shall do that in the next post.