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A first for ‘special’ Neeraj

Special OPS, chronicling terror attacks the country has faced around a fictitious story, is premiering on Hotstar

By Shama Bhagat
  • Published 5.03.20, 1:49 PM
  • Updated 5.03.20, 1:49 PM
  • 2 mins read
Neeraj Pandey during the first-look launch of Special OPS Fotocorp

Filmmaker Neeraj Pandey, who has directed five films since 2008, is stepping into the digital world and says the director in him loves to work at his own pace.

While he has written and produced several films, Neeraj has only directed A Wednesday!, Special 26, Baby, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story and Aiyaary till now. His web series, Special OPS, chronicling terror attacks the country has faced around a fictitious story, is premiering on Hotstar on March 17.

“I am happy to work that way. Writing eight episodes of this series was not easy, it takes a lot out of you. I take time to work on my projects,” said Neeraj, who has directed Special OPS with Shivam Nair of Naam Shabana fame. “It has the backdrop of Parliament attack.”

Does the director have an affinity towards the title “special”? Neeraj claims he has never thought about it, at least. “I didn’t come up with this name. The team decided that this is a great name and great brand and sums it up so beautifully when you see the poster. When we started working on this story, I thought of making a film but the agenda was to tell a seven-and-a-half hour story. So we decided to make it into a series so that we had enough time to tell the story,” the 46-year-old Neeraj said.

Special OPS has an ensemble cast comprising Kay Kay Menon, Karan Tacker, Divya Dutta, Saiyami Kher and Vinay Pathak among others, and has been shot on exotic locales. “It has been within budget. We shot in the UAE, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Amman (in Jordan), Ottawa and Delhi. We had to build the sets of Parliament partially as there was no short cut to it. The rest we managed with VFX. We built a story from the 19-year-old odyssey,” he said.

After Special OPS, Neeraj will start working on Chanakya with Ajay Devgn. Having worked with the likes of Akshay Kumar, Neeraj said he does not believe in star power. “For me content is the king, the cast comes later. Taapsee (Pannu) was new when I signed her for Baby and so was Sushant Singh Rajput when I chose him for M.S. Dhoni. We can’t speak about Chanakya — going on floors in October — right now. All I can say is I am sure that I can narrate the story nicely because I am from Bihar and I feel comfortable with the topic,” he said.

“Director Chandraprakash Dwivedi has done a serial earlier on the greatest political thinker, philosopher, economist and royal adviser from ancient Indian history. He had a big hand in bringing about this project. I kept meeting him and he kept inspiring me that the story should be told. He is someone whom I can turn to for advice.

“I can’t talk about the casting as such. It’s a work in progress,” he signed off.