Noting that slow-burn shows like School of Lies aren’t easily greenlit, writer Ishani Banerjee bats for series to be judged on nuances rather than their first-week views
Some shows like School of Lies are not meant to be binged, but savoured. Ishani Banerjee, who wrote it with creator-director Avinash Arun, says the idea was to tell a multi-dimensional story of violence. “Avinash had passed on a few news articles to me. When I finished reading them, I told him we should [narrate the story] from the perpetrator’s point of view. He wanted to do a meditative piece on violence, look at the cyclical nature of abuse and trauma,” says the co-creator and writer, who started her run in the movies with Aligarh (2015).
The Disney+ Hotstar mystery drama, led by Nimrat Kaur, follows the case of a 12-year-old boy who has gone missing from a boarding school. Banerjee is confident that the series, despite being unlike the fast-paced whodunits, will find its audience and may even open the doors for slow-burn shows in India. “School of Lies is a slow-burn show. It is not to be determined by the number of first-week views,” she states, insisting that writers, creators and streamers must together use the OTT boom to tell richer stories. “Today, when OTT has given us the opportunity, it’s a disservice to writing if you aren’t deep-diving. If 49 out of 50 shows are catering to a certain kind of storytelling, then at least one should say something different.”
Banerjee says that the onus is also on OTT platforms to not succumb to the rat race, and instead give writers the chance to tell diverse stories. “It’s not easy to get a School of Lies made. There is a demand-supply cycle. We are constantly looking at which OTT show has got the maximum views. [These conversations] have been happening with regard to films and their box-office numbers. If you are still stuck in that rut on OTT, what’s the difference? The onus lies as much on the writers as on producers and platforms [to usher in change].”