Calling the shots

Anjali Jhangiani
Friday, 18 January 2019

Speaking to director Anu Menon about her latest show Four More Shots Please! which is a slice-of-life story about four urban millennial women finding their feet in the hypocritical society that we live in

Starting her career with London, Paris, New York (2012), a modern-day love story featuring Ali Zafar and Aditi Rao Hydari that takes you around the world, and then directing Waiting (2015), a soulful drama with Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin about two strangers finding friendship in each other as they nurse their comatose partners in hospital, filmmaker Anu Menon is out with her latest project — a web series for Amazon Prime called Four More Shots Please! Starring Sayani Gupta, Kirti Kulhari, Bani J and Maanvi Gagroo, the film revolves around the lives of these millennial women who are caught in a constant battle between the traditional and modern in the hypocritical society that we live in today. 

While the recently launched trailer looks bold in all the right ways, the episodes are scheduled to be launched on Amazon Prime on January 25. We chat up Anu to find out more about her work:

- Anu, tell us about your perspective on creator Rangita Nandy’s narration. And what are the things you added to it as the director?
Rangita sent me the script of the first episode — and just the opening scene did the trick for me. I loved the approach to the storytelling. It was funny and sexy but equally strong and emotional. My job is to make sure I capture what’s on paper and give it both the scale and depth it needs. So while the show has great production values the way we shot it, we also worked really hard on the emotional quotient of the scenes.
 
- Do you think being called a woman director today is an advantage? How do you react to that tag?
I have accepted that I have to bat for my gender, so I have stopped being defensive about it, and see how my experiences can inspire or open doors for other women. Finally, we are able to tell the female narrative in a front footed way and so I’m definitely making the most of it. But generally, when you are on set, you are just a director (not a male or a female director).

- Since this is a women-centric show, were you conscious about making it look as an entertainer for the opposite sex too?
We were true to the characters — male or female. The men are written really well and not broad-stroked or stereotyped. If a story is told well, it should appeal to all sexes. I know the men in the show really enjoyed their roles so I’m guessing men will love watching it too. 
 
- What is the rapport you shared with the rest of the crew and cast? What was the energy on the sets like?
It was quite exhilarating. It was a very intense shoot. We were very ambitious and always set out to maximise every location, every frame, so it was full on. 

There was a lot of laughter (and silliness) on set and that really helped diffuse the stress that comes with such a mammoth task. But it was always very professional, there were no ego clashes and everyone was working towards a common goal. 
 
- Do you think OTT platforms are providing more and better opportunities for directors like you?
Absolutely. The freedom you get to tell your story without having to worry about the opening weekend at the box-office is something else. There is also an open-mindedness and fearlessness to their approach which is very creatively satisfying. There is almost no second-guessing of what the audience will say or the censors. It allows you to concentrate on what is most important — your story and your characters.
 
- What is your favourite kind of shot (the alcoholic beverage)?
I have done a fair few tequila shots in my younger days, but now I need something soothing with Baileys in it.
 
- What are your future plans?
Binge watch Four More Shots with my family and friends on January 25.

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