Four More Shots Please! allowed me to lend my voice to female friendships: Nupur Asthana

Khevna Pandit
Saturday, 27 June 2020

With a view to keep the show fresh and relatable, Nupur Asthana took over Four More Shots Please! to make Damini, Siddhi, Umang and Anjana's complex life more approachable.

With Four More Shots Please! winning hearts (and some criticism!) across the country, several have taken to social media to express themselves over the conclusion of the season. With a third season in the pipeline, fans of the series have been waiting on the makers to know more about their plans for the next one. 

Nupur Asthana, who is best remembered for directing the iconic 'Hip Hip Hurray', took over season two of Four More Shots Please! And has stepped forth intending to make the show fresh, and even more relatable for the millennial crowd. 

In her interview with Sakal Times, she speaks of the thought behind the storyline and some fond moments during her tenure. 

Four More Shots Please had a successful first season, what were the initial challenges you faced while directing the much-awaited second season?

A: The creators, writers and I wanted to delve deeper into the protagonists' lives in S2, and for me, the challenge was to ensure that this shift in tone and vision should feel smooth and seamless for viewers who were coming back to the show after S1. Beyond this, I didn't overthink of any 'challenge' involved. I just listened to my gut on how to narrate the intersecting complex lives of our characters in this season with honesty and truth. 

There were certain aspects I wanted to work on specifically like making South Mumbai an integral part of the show since that is where the show is set, and on ensuring that the characters and their journeys felt real- like these were real people that we knew or had seen in our lives.

Who of the four in the show is your favourite character, and why?

A: How do I answer this… which mother has a favourite child?! But on a serious note, I'm partial to all four characters. I feel deeply for each one, especially in their most vulnerable moments.

We have seen several iconic projects from your end; however, what was different about directing FMSP?

A: Thank you for seeing them the way you do. When Rangita called me for FMSP S2, the first thought that came to mind was that urban female voices were still not being seen or heard enough on Indian screens… I had written a film script years ago about female friendship that never got greenlit. So to be offered a chance to add my voice to a show that was headlining four female protagonists owning their lives was very exciting. It was something I hadn't explored in-depth earlier and to do a deep dive into feminine friendship felt like an ode to my friends…

Four More Shots Please! has definitely gathered its following, but there is a lot of criticism regarding its rather "modern fairytale" like the storyline. How do you feel about both these scenarios?

A: I understand that a show like this will always have polarised opinions. There is a massive audience of fans who love it - a lot of them are women who find an emotional connect instantly. There is a section of men who reject it - they cannot and indeed refuse to accept that women in our country who have agency and kinship can lead lives on their terms. They show no compunctions about reducing the show to literally the four minutes of intimate scenes that it has in the entire length of ten episodes. 

There is also a section of female audiences who call it their 'guilty pleasure' or 'feminism lite' - the audiences who will binge on the show, privately love it, but the patriarchy is so internalised in some of us that feminism in India can only be seen as one kind - that of women in un-empowered situations, striving for it. So to then publicly proclaim love for a show like ours becomes difficult for some of us. And I totally understand that. As a director, once my work is out there in the public domain, I have to let go… and accept all the love as well as the brickbats that are hurled at my team and me. All I can do is keep making stuff I personally believe in. Perhaps it feels like a 'modern fairytale' for women whose lives are very different from that portrayed on screen, but despite that, they empathise with the lead characters. I think that to see our central characters - all women - taking on the challenges they do and jostling with them is a very powerful and aspirational narrative for all women audiences…. it's riveting either way.

From scams, rape case stories, killing of journalists -- OTT platforms are where recent web series tries to show the realities of the scenario we live in. However, FMSP, in many instances, has shown a very different portrayal of reality. When drawn a parallel on the same grounds between FMSP and other web series, how do you think the show fares?

A: I think that as long as every show is truthful to the story, it wants to tell - it will feel authentic. FMSP is the story of urban women in South Mumbai bonding together even as each of them deals with their individual realities whether it's casual misogyny at work or striving to be heard in an environment that does not encourage anti-establishment voices, using comedy as a route to self-acceptance, trying to find respect and balance in a relationship whether its an LGBTQIA or heterosexual one, complicated relationships... 

I think FMSP S2 portrays a contemporary urban reality that is layered and complex… I've tried to say it all with a light hand and zero pretension. Amazon Prime Video had recently stated that FMSP S2 was the most-watched show from India on their platform and that was very humbling.

Will we be seeing you in season 3? If not, will we see you next?

A: I am not directing S3. I need a new challenge for myself and am currently developing several things.

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