One afternoon before the pandemic, I went to a decommissioned hospital in West London to meet the Hindi film director Anurag Kashyap on the set of his new Netflix production. The old maternity unit where he was filming had never been entirely cleared out. Members of his crew, recently arrived from Mumbai, were maneuvering around vestigial baby cots and gurneys. As an assistant director shouted out instructions in Hindi and English, Kashyap had a word with his lead actress, who was lying supine on a bed in a blue hospital gown. The actress, a former model with hooded eyes and high cheekbones, nodded without changing her position. Then, just as unobtrusively, Kashyap made his way behind the monitor.

Kashyap has developed a cult following in India since his first Hindi film, Paanch (Five), was banned for extreme violence in 2003. He has written, directed, and produced dozens of films for Bollywood. When Netflix launched in India in 2016, it hired Kashyap to co-direct its first original series, Sacred Games, about an underworld don in Mumbai who ensnares an upright police officer. As soon as Season 1 landed, it was obvious that the platform had a superhit on its hands.

The series, based on a novel by Vikram Chandra, a popular Indian novelist who now lives in Berkeley, California, starred A-list Hindi film actors. Since streaming services weren’t, at the time, subject to the rules of India’s Central Board of Film Certification, Kashyap was able to transcend the grammar of Bollywood. His characters engaged with each other naturally—they swore, they talked politics, they had sex. To viewers exhausted by the predictable spectacles of Bollywood song and dance, Sacred Games was a thrill. The series marked the first time that streaming in India became more than just another source of light entertainment, like YouTube, or a vehicle for international shows.

Anurag Kashyap plays himself in the 2020 film AK vs AK.ISHIKA MOHAN MOTWANE / © NETFLIX / COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

Netflix was so pleased, Kashyap told me, that it gave him a bonus. “That’s why I can buy new shoes!” he said with a laugh, gesturing at his fresh high-tops with the tip of his cigarette. India is

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By: Konstantin Kakaes
Title: Inside Netflix’s Indian Gambit
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2021 09:00:00 +0000

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