Ashish R Shukla talks about life after Undekhi and his upcoming web series and a crime drama feature

The filmmaker talks about nepotism and how OTT platforms have turned into a great leveller
Filmmaker Ashish R Shukla
Filmmaker Ashish R Shukla

Ashish R Shukla is on a roll now. His web series Undekhi, a crime thriller that just got released on Sony LIV is getting rave reviews from the audience and Bollywood as well. The director, who started off with assisting Anurag Kashyap in DevD has come a long way since. His upcoming film, Bahut Hua Samman too will release sometime soon in any of the web platforms and the director is gearing up for the shoot of his next web series. We had a small chat with Shukla on his films, career and more. Excerpts:

Already Rajkummar and Neha Dhupia have given great feedback for Undekhi. What are the reactions you are getting?

I got many calls from the people I respect including one of my mentors Anurag Kashyap. It's seeming unreal. I didn't expect such a reaction with everyone appreciating everything about the series from writing to storytelling and performances. The thing surprises me when people ask how this scene was done or that shot was done. It's a bit satisfying to know that the approach we took was in right. 

Your film Bahut Hua Samman will also release. Tell us a little about the film?

We shot Bahut Hua Sammaan right after Undekhi. It's a satirical comedy about two mechanical engineering students, played by Raghav Juyal and Abhishek Chauhan. Both are small-time con men who decide to rob a bank as per a masterplan by their college 'Baba' Sanjay Mishra.  I hope it'll release on a leading platform as soon as possible. It was supposed to come by summer itself but then the lockdown happened.

<em>Ashish R Shukla on the sets of Bahut Hua Samman</em>
Ashish R Shukla on the sets of Bahut Hua Samman

With theatre release becoming impossible in the near future, how do you think OTTs will grow. Do you think stars crowding OTT platforms is good or bad?

Like nature evolves itself, so is art and technology. There was a time when we were shooting on 16-35mm film cans but now almost everything is shot digitally. The best thing about films releasing on OTT is that there are no weekend openings, you don't get the numbers a film made which I felt was always unnecessary and misleading for the viewer. Now there won't be any big release that will wipe out the screens for small films. Rather you won't regret that you missed a release as the contents are here to stay for years.

So except the darkroom and 35mm experiences, it works well for small filmmakers. I'm not sure if the big movie budgets are going to be the same or will change, but the recovery will be limited and here the audience is comparatively more aware. So, there isn't an issue with stars coming or not as it's a medium of content and unless that works, films won't. Every big and small movie will become a thumbnail that will coexist and that's the beauty of OTT.

<em>Filmmaker Ashish R Shukla</em>
Filmmaker Ashish R Shukla

What's your take on nepotism? Was your struggle much bigger as an outsider?

I personally never experienced or seen any talented person being affected by it. There can be personal conspiracies but I haven't witnessed any. Success takes time and anyone who is in a hurry can have many complaints with the industry and nepotism is one of them. In my career,, I've seen humble star kids too and outsiders with huge attitude problems after success as well. Even after 20 years, I'm still not a big name but I always work hard and learn. I've seen many outsiders who are self-declared artistes and don't want to upgrade their skills and then face a downfall just like a less-talented star kid.

What are the other projects you are working on?

I am prepping for another web series that will possibly go on floors by the end of this month. Besides, I am also working over an Allahabad-based crime drama feature. It's a personal film since I hail from there. There are about four projects that are in various stages of production.

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