He is indeed a very fine director – and has directed every genre – from comedy, masala, thrillers to even courtroom dramas. In fact, according to a survey done by a website, out of seven best Zee5 original movies and web-series listed, two of the web series were directed by him… The Chargesheet: Innocent or Guilty? and The Verdict – State VS Nanavati.
Meet the understated Shashant Shah who lets his amazing work do the talking. And talk it does – for practically all his films from Dasvidaniya to Chalo Dilli - and webseries The Chargesheet: Innocent or Guilty?, The Verdict – State VS Nanavati, Jamia 2.0 to Chacha Vidhyak Hain Humhare Season 2 have been critically acclaimed. Read on as this multi-talented director talks about his films and webseries, shoots, multi-talented writer wife Aarti and two handsome sons and much more…
Shashant, how has the journey been from doing TV, acclaimed films including Dasvidaniya, Chalo Dilli and Bajatey Raho to now making slick web series for some of the best OTT platforms, directing films to much more?
I’ve never sat back and thought about my journey, honestly because I don’t think I have the time. I just move on to my next story.
When I look at the works of Sir Satyajit Ray or Frank Darabont, I feel that they are so relevant even today. I am not even a particle of dust in terms of their body of work. So I really have a lot to do and so instead of thinking back and looking at my journey, I prefer to go onto my next film/story instead.
Shashant, you made The Verdict – State VS Nanavati, tell us about this? Also, I wanted to ask wasn’t The Verdict’s story very similar to Rustom?
I met Subhash Kapoor Sir, who said in his calm voice that they want me to direct “The Verdict” which was based on the infamous Nanavati Case. My first reaction was that the film Rustom has already been made. Subhashji told me to read the script (10 episodes) and then decide. I picked up the script and I started reading - and I didn’t put the script down until I read the fourth episode. And then I realized it was different and I knew I should be a part of something like this because I knew that this is going to make me learn a lot. You have to be blessed as a filmmaker to get a chance to shoot period dramas. I knew this would make me challenge myself as a filmmaker because earlier my films were all about slice a of life – Dasvidaniya or comedy – Chalo Dilli. I thanked my stars that I was blessed to get this offer. I was extremely happy and I said, let’s jump into it. So I just told him, I want a lot of pre-production time. They told me, fine, you will get two and a half months of pre-production time. So with the help of my Team, My DOP- Mohanna Krishna, Production Designer- Wasiq Khan, Sound Designer- Shahab Alam, Makeup Stylist- Arun Gire and Costumes Stylist – Preeti we made the series under the guidance of Subhash Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor.
At any point, were you scared that comparisons would be made?
I will tell you something very frankly – and you know me also, right? I have never been scared once I’ve taken a decision. When I was making Dasvidaniya, I had given it to Warner Brothers (India) but after three months, they told me ‘no’, we can’t do the subject because something similar is being made in the West and that was “The Bucket List” which unfortunately for us released one and a half years earlier than Dasvidaniya, so inevitably when Dasvidaniya released, everybody compared it to The Bucket List! And trust me, I never feared the comparison and you know what, Dasvidaniya still remains in the list of IMDb top 250 films. I have learned and I believe also that a filmmaker should be fearless.
You take a lot of risks don’t you? For instance, in terms of The Verdict, you have taken Elli AvrRam as a lead when she had a different image of a dancer, why?
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