Champion of the underdog

Sushmita Jha
Friday, 21 September 2018

Filmmaker Rohan Sippy spills the beans on his new web series, Side Hero, and how the digital format is a better medium for actors and writers.

After a successful directorial stint on television with Khan No. 1 on Discovery Jeet, director Rohan Sippy is all set to debut on the web platform, with his upcoming web series Side Hero.  

Eros Now, the video OTT platform presents its first original show, from Monday, September 24, which stars Kunaal Roy Kapur and Gauahar Khan. The eight-episode show is a humorous take on a character played by Kunaal, who is trying to strike the perfect chance to make it big but failing every time. Hilarious situations that compel him to settle for being the greatest ‘Side Hero’ forms the crux of the story. 
Rohan shares with us the experience of working in the digital space and how it can change the industry.

How did you get associated with Side Hero? Was it because you wanted to work in the web medium or it was originally meant to be a film but later turned into a web series since that’s the current favourite medium?
I have been a fan of all these shows which air on the digital platform. This idea came up amidst a conversation with Kunaal. We were discussing that it would be great if one is able to show the life and struggle of a person in the showbiz, who is waiting for something big but ends up being in the background. 

We felt that we have a character here, who can explore the unglamorous side of life, and it will be great to show it to the world. These platforms give you some memorable characters and it takes you into a world that you enjoy living in for sometime. So that’s how we came up with this project. 

A few films and TV series have touched upon the subject of struggling actors and side heroes, extras, but not a full-fledged project like this. Don’t you think people are more interested in knowing about the lives of people they idolise and not really excited about watching the lives of ordinary people like them?

There is no shortage of material today for people who they idolise. Probably I can consume 24 hours of content on Salman Khan every day through all these platforms. But that’s when this concept comes in. They need to know about the lives of those people who put in so much effort to make their idol look good for them. You ask any Bollywood star in the industry and they will tell you how important is it to have a side hero. Without them, the big stars are incomplete. 

Was Kunaal Roy Kapoor the first name that came to your mind for a side hero? There are many like him waiting for their share of fame.
I have been working with Kunaal for almost 10 years now and I am accustomed with his work. Initially, I wanted to collaborate with Kunaal for the creative part related to the content. We have been discussing this project for three years, so he was well aware of it. And, I thought he would be perfect for the role. It wasn’t like we discussed any other actors at length. 

You have worked with Abhishek Bachchan in three of your movies. Is it because you thought that he can bring out your vision better? How important is it for a filmmaker to have a rapport with an actor?
It is important, but not mandatory. There are actors and directors who shared no rapport but those films were huge hits. So it’s a myth to think that rapport is very important. That is the beauty of this craft, there is no formula for it; there is all kind of craziness happening around. Like William Goldman’s golden rule of Hollywood, ‘Nobody knows anything’. We all think we know, but we are all surprised on Fridays.

I personally share a great bond with Abhishek and we have created something great together. He is great performer and I think he will do great on web platform because here it’s not about stardom, it’s about real actors who can hold you. It is a better medium for actors, writers than films. It connects the character to the audience unlike movies. 

In an interview, you had said that platforms like Netflix and Amazon are going to cause a lot of disruption in the entertainment industry. Do you think films will shrink in numbers in the near future?
I am not qualified to give you an answer to this question. But which industry has not be rattled or revolutionised with these platforms? Silicon valley has done it in last 10 to 15 years. Retail business has completely been changed by Amazon. Google has changed, Facebook has changed. 

The first time companies of this size and this kind of influence have come to our industry. So if the web has changed such big industries, it is capable of changing our industry too. 

Internet has changed our lives a lot and I am not sure how the changes in our industry will happen, but one thing I am sure of is that our business won’t be the same. We are going to put on our seat belts and go on the ride, because the next five to 10 years are going to be very different than the previous 15 years.

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