The 'Modern Family' wedding

Oct 18, 2015, 08:05 IST | Aastha Atray Banan

The Indian family is dysfunctional and, at least online, Yash Raj Films isn't afraid to show it

What we set out to do was tell the story of a wedding which is very real. We have had enough of those fairy tale shaadis; but this is pretty dysfunctional,” says Anand Tiwari, director of Y-Films’s new web series, Bang Baaja Baraat. “So, there is a couple, who has a modern relationship and liberal views. But, as soon as their families get involved in the shaadi, traditional values seep in. They start seeing each other in new light and realise that they are not the people they thought they were. Cracks appear. Do they break the shaadi, or do they break up?”

The cast of Bang Baaja Baraat: (from top left) Rajit Kapur, Neil Bhoopalam, Gajraj Rao, Ayesha Raza, Ali Fazal and Angeera Dhar. When lovers, played by Fazal and Dhar, decide to get married, their families, which are as different as chalk and cheese, clash. That’s when they realise that maybe, this was not meant to be

The trailer for the five-episode (each 15 minutes long) web series, out on November 4, has all the glitz expected from a Yash Raj Films production — the difference is most of the cast hails from theatre, except the leads Ali Fazal (Fukrey) and newcomer Angira Dhar. It will be telecast on Y-Films’ YouTube channel and has big names from stage including Ayesha Raza, Gajraj Rao, Rajit Kapur and Shernaaz Patel. “I didn’t have the budget to afford them, but since we are all from theatre, I bullied them into it,” says Tiwari, a stage actor who has acted in films like Go Goa Gone and Aisha, along with being an assistant director on Barfi!.

Director Anand Tiwari, actress Angira Dhar and producer Ashish Patil of Y-Films
Director Anand Tiwari, actress Angira Dhar and producer Ashish Patil of Y-Films. Pic/Nimish Dave

Bang... is a story about lovers, played by Fazal and Dhar, who hail from vastly different backgrounds. One’s family cosmopolitan, while the other’s comes from the cow belt of the country. The result: a mad clash of cultures. While the girl’s parents, played by Rajit Kapur and Shernaz Patel, are separated, the boy’s parents are country bumpkins. The scene in the trailer, in which Gajraj Rao massages his head with a vibrator, promises to be only one of the many laugh-out-loud moments. “The audience is going to relate to it, as we are all Indian and enjoy all of it, even though we crib about weddings,” says Dhar, who worked as assistant director and on a travel show before Yash Raj casting director Shanu Sharma spotted her in a café.

What sets it apart from the rest of the fiction online right now, could be the scale and quality, says co-writer Amritpal Bindra. “It was treated like a feature film, even though the budgets were smaller. We can push boundaries because it’s on the net, where censorship doesn’t apply. This was meant to be more commercial, mainstream and masala.” Asish Patil, producer, adds, “It was essentially about looking at the larger picture, because this doesn’t make money for the studio. It’s about taking the studio’s equity of storytelling from big screens to a screen young people watch.”

For Tiwari, it all started as a gag idea, about relationships that go awry, and was just meant to be three-minutes long. But when they started talking about it, it took the shape of a web series. They were aware of the challenges they were facing — slow bandwidths and short attention spans. “It’s hard to get people hooked, but once you get them, audiences stay,” he says. That’s when Patil shares an interesting tidbit. “We did a bit of research and this is what we got to know. They say that the attention span of a gold fish is nine seconds, while that of a human right now, in the age of so much technology, is only seven seconds. We also saw what was trending online, duration of this content was also getting short.” And hence their brief was to structure every episode like a James Bond film, where the beginnings are always shocking, followed by a flashback into how they got there. “It’s literally opening with a bang,” says Patil.

The shooting though, they say, were like a theatre rehearsal. “Everyone was collaborating, and nobody was trying to steal anybody’s thunder,” says actor Gajraj Rao, recently seen in Talvar. “When you are working with stalwarts, you really have to keep your game up,” adds Fazal. The end result seems to be keeping with the Yash Raj brand of glam and pomp, all the
while trying to appeal to a generation on-the-go. “It might be online, but the vision is cinematic, and that’s how it has been put together. It’s shot on the same cameras as we shot Dhoom on,” signs off Patil.

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