Directing episodes for "Made in Heaven" was a good chance to challenge himself, says "Masaan" director Neeraj Ghaywan about boarding the second season of the popular series whose "aesthetics" are different from the kind of cinema he is known for.
Ghaywan has directed the third episode "And They Lived Happily Ever After" and the fifth episode "The Heart Skipped A Beat" in the Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti-created show. The second season premiered on Prime Video on Wednesday.
"Zoya and I have been hanging out for a while, so when she spoke about these episodes, I was pretty kicked about it. Also, my popular perception is that I make a certain kind of film, in a certain kind of milieu but I also want to experiment with myself. This was a good chance," the filmmaker told PTI.
"I took this challenge because aesthetic and technique wise, it is very different from what I do. Fundamentally, stories and emotions are the same, so directing that is easier. Even though there's season one as a precedent (for me) but to bring the same tone, technique took a bit of hard work. (But) I loved the challenge," he added.
"Made in Heaven" follows two Delhi-based wedding planners, played by Sobhita Dhulipala and Arjun Mathur. The other directors on the second season are Kagti, Akhtar, Nitya Mehra, and Alankrita Shrivastava.
The lavishly-mounted seven-episode series, set against the backdrop of big fat Indian weddings, is in contrast to the director's previous work, “Masaan” starring Vicky Kaushal and Richa Chadha, as well as two Netflix projects, the second season of crime-drama “Sacred Games” and “Geeli Pucchi” from the anthology film “Ajeeb Daastaans”.
Ghaywan thanked fellow filmmakers for collaborating rather than operating in silos.
"I never felt like I was a new director. One week and we were sorted, and we were jamming over the script. The way they go about it, they don't think in silos. We sat through all of it together, all five of us were through and through every episode," he said.
When Akhtar and Kagti contacted her in the summer of 2016 for “Made in Heaven” season one, Shrivastava said she came on board instantly. The filming began in August 2017 with the focus to centre the series around Indian weddings.
“We started meeting regularly, we would talk, make notes. We wanted to show what happens at a wedding where emotions are high, there's immense joy, anger, stuff comes out from the past, families collide, there is a collision of values,” Shrivastava, best known for “Lipstick Under My Burkha”, said.
The first season, she said, revolved around how people feel when they are outsiders and what it takes to feel like an insider. It was also about class, sexuality and how patriarchy functions, she added.
For season two, Shrivastava has directed the second and sixth episodes titled "Beauty and the Beast" and "Warrior Princesses", respectively. She said the directors began brainstorming concepts for the new season right after the success of the first part, but the filming was derailed owing to the coronavirus outbreak that struck India in March 2020.
“We were in celebratory mode and so excited that people got what we were trying to do. Few weeks passed, and then we started thinking about season two, how we see the key characters, and the themes,” she said.
According to Shrivastava, in season two they are taking forward the themes from the first season by exploring them in a more detailed manner.
"For season two, we also decided to scale up, have grander weddings, more fun, more masala, but also more sadness and poignancy.” The makers have also scaled up the new season with bigger ceremonies and star cameos, including the likes of Radhika Apte, Mrunal Thakur, Dia Mirza, Pulkit Samrat, Sanjay Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, and fashion designer Sabyasachi.
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