The remaining three episodes of director Neeraj Pandey’s web series ‘The Freelancer’ are coming on Disney Plus Hotstar on December 15. Mohit Raina is playing the lead role in this web series. The one who goes to Syria and rescues his friend’s daughter from a terrorist stronghold, whom her husband fraudulently takes to Syria via Dubai and Turkey. Anupam Kher is once again seen with Neeraj Pandey. He is playing the role of Mohit Raina’s mentor in this web series.
Can it be said that this is our answer to ‘Jack Ryan’?
It is neither a question nor an answer, rather it is an attempt in itself. Telling this kind of story which has international value. This is a journey of 4 years ago, so you can understand that no one knows what is going to happen in the world in 4 years. It’s not the answer, but it’s a story of its own that we felt needed to be told.
How much acceptance is there still regarding the incident involved, or are people in denial mode in the society and the system?
No, today we accept it to a great extent. Your social media is so active. When you know immediately what is happening in which corner of the world. If there was denial mode, we would not have got so much response for the series. This story is such that people somewhere know that such a thing is happening and then the relatability increases in such stories.
For this, only Mohit was in your mind or was there someone else also?
It was Mohit only, I have met Mohit before. When we prepared for Freelancer, the talks were going on with Disney+ Hotstar. At that time we had only one name about which we had discussed that Mohit would play the title role.
Maybe that’s why he played Navneet Sikera?
You know what body work is, but that doesn’t become the reason. Otherwise what is the novelty in what you are doing? Let us know that ‘Freelancer’ is a very different type of project. There was also a physical requirement for this, that the person whom you cast should be of a certain height and build, so there was a certain demand on him for the character.
What was challenging about the shoot?
It was the time of Covid, you imagine that a project of such scale, which demands that the crew should travel from here. That too in a country like Morocco and in Morocco too we were traveling to three-four places. Every country, including airlines, had its own protocol regarding Covid. The biggest challenge was to be able to execute such a big and long schedule while protecting your crew. This was the biggest challenge in itself. There are a lot of logistics involved in this kind of project in which there is a lot of equipment, hardware props, guns, all these we have to get, hire and buy from many countries in Europe. So the logistics of all that in itself was a nightmare for us. There was the same thing again, various restrictions and protocols.
Approximately how many episodes were shot there, 3 episodes or 7 episodes?
All seven episodes were shot simultaneously, it was later decided that it would be split, but all the episodes were shot simultaneously.
Is there any benefit in splitting them? The first four episodes of the show came out a few months ago, are the remaining ones coming now?
When you create something for the network or create something for the platform, the platform will want to exploit it in the most efficient manner possible. Then we had a discussion about it, and then Disney Plus Hotstar was very clear that the structure is the best, because it is a series made on a very large scale. It is a conscious decision regarding the series that it will give us the expected appreciation.
Can we say that it is more expensive than ‘Special Ops’?
I don’t know how many times more expensive this number is, but the reality then was different and it is different now. You also know that the world was different before Covid and the world is very different after Covid. Now things themselves have become very expensive.
How big has OTT become after Covid?
Now OTT has progressed very well. He has grown overnight during the time when we were all locked in our homes. It has become a medium that will be around forever. I think it is wrong to compare it with cinema, again we live in comparatives. Actually we should leave that. Both are different things, theatrical is a different experience in itself.
There are some stories which you cannot think of on OTT, you understand that it is a very good film and then you can make it into a film. Then there is some thinking that the shows are of 7 to 8 hours duration, the story is so big, you know about it that you cannot cover it in the film, so that is the choice which you can play however you want.
Anupam Sir, what was the reason behind taking it in?
It is not that complicated, when you write something, you get to know whether you will be able to discover something new with a particular person or not, the answer to this is yes and no. And if your answer is yes then you start the work.
How many seasons of both can we expect, Ops and Freelancer?
I don’t have any answer on this right now, once the show comes on 15th and then everything depends on how much love you guys get. The decision taken by both us and Disney Hotstar will be decided only after that.
How are you managing so many things?
Having fun. And as long as you enjoy, you will do it and manage would be a very wrong word because when you are enjoying something then you are managing it a bit, rather you are enjoying that process. This has been happening with us, we have been enjoying the challenge and this kind of process, be it a film or a series.
Have different roles to play everywhere?
Maybe it is easier because somewhere you are running a show, your responsibilities are different, so it brings freshness in your approach and your learning, and somewhere you are directing, your character is different, so maybe That’s why so much happens.
Your fans would like to know when will Chanakya be brought?
‘Chanakya’ is currently on the back burner. I had told last time also that Chanakya is on the back burner, but ‘Auron Mein Kahan Dum Tha’ is being released, which was announced recently.