Encrypted, a new web series directed by Souptick C and produced by Sthalantar Films and Entertainment P.Ltd., started streaming on KLIKK yesterday. Based on the dark web, the story revolves around human relationships that get enmeshed in the theme. The Telegraph caught up with Souptick, producer Ranieeta Dash and cast member Richa Sharma — for a special shoot and chat at JW Marriott Kolkata to dig deeper into the making of the series:
What intrigues you about crime thrillers?
Ranieeta Dash: Actually I am more fond of love stories. But if a love story turns into a crime thriller, then it interests me. It creates a sense of suspense and the audience gets intrigued to watch it too.
Richa Sharma: I also look at it in a similar way. Somehow in love stories, you can predict the ending, but in crime stories because of the suspense element, the audience pull is more.
Souptick C: Crime thrillers or horror, it is like a black dot on a white page. People notice the black dot and not the white part of the page. Every human being has a dark side to explore. Being an entertainer, I feel, people are getting more attracted to the dark side of life. They watch the fantasies, which they want to execute. But as normal human beings, we cannot do that spontaneously. So there is this nice feel about this genre and that is what intrigues me about the dark genre. While scripting and directing, I keep it in a way that would entertain the audience.
How did you get introduced to the genre and do you have any favourites?
Souptick: It is an interest that I have had since childhood. I have always been intrigued with horror and thriller. When I used to work as a theatre director, initially I was into comedy but then got into horror, thrillers, and the dark zone. I am a diehard fan of Vikram Bhatt when it comes to horror. In the Indian horror genre, I feel he is the best. Internationally, I am a big fan of Akira Kurosawa. The kind of violence he shows, and the intriguing moments in thrillers interest me. Money Heist is a series I enjoyed.
Ranieeta: Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein on Netflix by Sidharth Sengupta. I liked it because it is a love story presented as a thriller.
Richa: Right now I am watching the web series called She. Souptick also recommended watching Money Heist for my character in Encrypted. I never really thought I would play a character in a thriller like this. I enjoy the suspense moments in thrillers. Thanks to Covid, I started watching these thrillers on Netflix and that is how I got introduced to the genre!
What was the genesis of the story of Encrypted?
Souptick: Everything is happening through mobile today. When we go out, we book the cab through our mobile; we shop, and even education is happening online. What if there’s an app through which everyone can start earning money? If you start earning money it brings in a lot of complications. Right now we can see that people are using cryptocurrency. When I studied the dark web, I saw that it was created for a good cause. It turned into a difficult thing to handle right now. It has two sides, the good and bad. And if that bad side takes over, it will be bad for the world. All these thoughts were going on in my mind and that’s how Encrypted happened.
The storyline has a relationship aspect too…
Souptick: The story is about two sisters (played by Aishwarya Sen and Paayel Sarkar). The younger sister gets into trouble and the elder sister comes to sort out the trouble. During this trouble, we have the police officer, Hema Singh, played by Richa, who is looking into the case. The male police officer played by Rana Mukherjee is ruthless and he has his own involvement in the case. The other side of the story is how the media is perceiving the situation, how the government is perceiving it and how the common people are perceiving it. It is an ensemble of characters coming in. How the youth reacts to the app launched in the market...it is about humans and relationships.
What kind of research went into the project?
Souptick: I did a lot of research, but I did not make it from a technical point of view. It is more on relationships because there are many controversial issues on this subject. It is a very tricky subject to handle. I did not want to include the controversy at this point. I just wanted to include the human aspect in it.
How was the cast selected?
Souptick: For me, the person has to fit in the role of the character that I imagined. I work on the looks also. We needed a vulnerable young girl. We required an elder sister who had to be mature and poised. For Richa’s character, I wanted to present her in a way that no one had seen her before. I told Richa I did not want her in the glamorous role that people are used to. She is playing someone who is ruthless and has a tough side to her. Richa is a soft person. At times it used to happen on set that that side used to come out. But she did a great job in moulding herself. While we did the photo shoot for the looks Ranieeta picked Rana Mukherjee. I vouched for only the female police officer. But in the shoot, both came out well.
Richa, you are playing a cop. What got you interested in the script and how did you prepare for the role?
Richa: I watched Khelaa Ssuru by Souptick. I was interested to work with him.
The role wasn’t difficult but it was challenging. We discussed this over the phone and he helped me a lot to get into the character of Hema Singh. Even when I was sitting at home, I was sitting like Hema Singh! Walking like her. For me becoming the character was spontaneous. I think I would like to do such roles again in future.
Ranieeta, what interested you to produce this film?
This production house is four to five years old. Souptick had started with a friend, and I joined Souptick much later and took charge of it. For the last two to three years, we have been going around with our stories. We used to prepare the content, but no one was willing to spend without seeing some work. Then Klikk gave us this opportunity. We knew our content was powerful. This is our second project with Klikk (the first one was Khelaa Ssuru ).
Richa and Ranieeta, this is your fourth project together. You both share a bond off-screen too. How was it getting back together for this film as producer and actor?
Ranieeta: We never behaved like a producer and an actor. In A Separate Sky, we were on hi-hello terms. The bonding started from Abbar Kanchanjangha. We stayed in Darjeeling for 15 days. We started discussing work there and how she (Richa) maintains herself. She is very positive and sorted.
Richa: But there were times when I was emotional and she handled me. That is how our bond grew stronger. For this series, we had that trust already between us.
Ranieeta: When Richa di did her scenes, I used to also look at the monitor and suggest her the changes. For Souptick, it was a little difficult with three actresses on the floor!
Ranieeta: I did not act!
Though the shoot was on a serious subject, what kind of fun did you have on set?
Richa: We used to play pranks. One day after pack-up, I was going home at 2 am and I was called back to shoot again because of some mistakes by another person. And on the next day, the person came and told me Souptick was angry because of what happened the previous day and would not shoot anymore. I went to meet him and all lights were off on the set, and I started crying. Then he hugged me and everyone started laughing, making videos.
Souptick: Then she thought she would give it back...
Richa: Yes, on the last day of the shoot, when he was under tremendous pressure, we played a prank on him too. And he was so tense!
Souptick: A series with four heroines on the floor — that is the biggest prank any director can face! Now I feel for my other directors.
Were there any challenges during the shoot?
Souptick: We had a lot of location shifts. We went from one place to another. I think I was the biggest challenge for them!
Richa: No! I think Souptick, as a director, knows how to take the best out of a character.
Ranieeta: For me, it was challenging as it was a commissioned project. We have to answer to some people. People weren’t sure about Richadi and Rana as they are glamorous models. But I had worked with Richadi. I knew what she could deliver. And I knew Souptick could bring out the best.
Ranieeta: We three are coming up with something for the big screen!
Picture: Rashbehari Das