Team Hankaar On Crowdfunding & The Future Of Webseries In India

By Aditya Savnal. Posted on July 28, 2015

We had recently written about the exciting crowdfunding initiative Hankaar and why it could be a game changer for webseries' in India. The crowdfunding campaign is being spearheaded by Can Communicate and Wishberry.

We recently interviewed Ravi Iyer, Yogi Chopra and Saameer Mody, three key figures spearheading Hankaar in the capacities of Director, Writer/Producer and Co-Producer respectively. During the interview, the trio spoke on the concept of Hankaar, the future of webseries in India, the aim of this crowdfunding initiative among other things.

Published below are excerpts from the interview.

1. What is Hankaar? We would love to know more about it the concept behind the series? Where did the idea come from?

Yogi : As a first time writer I am very fascinated by people we meet and see everyday and those we don't and what if we twist and create circumstances we don't see in everyday life. Also working on multiple characters really excites me.

I have been watching many international series from all around the world and today's youth is hooked to various series and they download most of it, as its not available on our networks. Working on a series is very different than creating a film. Series is a highly dynamic medium of story-telling and you can also engage your loyal fan base to know what is working for them. TV series in India are all about soaps or reality TV and we are yet to work in a format which is International and can be appreciated by an audience sitting in any part of the world. This thought really pushes me to experiment on a format like this.

2. Why not TV? Why have the series on web?

Yogi : We did approach some channels and frankly they are not ready for 'realistic fiction' content. On the other hand 'crime' based shows like Crime Patrol and Savdhan India are doing well. But the channels don't want to experiment until someone recreates an international series like in the case of 24 or we have a Anurag Kashyap or Anurag Basu backing it. But web is truly the future of all content and we are excited that we are working for it.

Ravi: I think India's TV viewing audience is not yet ready for mature content. Whereas a web audience is wider and there are people all across the globe wanting more and more content that fits a short genre. We wish to showcase our work to the world at large. And with a thriller genre the reach is even wider I believe.

3. You've made a few short films. In fact everyone in the team has been involved with the 48HFP in some way and have made multiple short films? Is the progression from short films to a web series natural? What are the differences in making a web series vis-a-vis short films?

Ravi : We have made almost 2 short films a year in the past 4 to 5 years since we first participated in the 48 hour project. The response to the couple of thrillers made me want to experiment more with the genre. A web series also gives us the opportunity to keep the audience engaged longer and a bit differently. You allow an audience to think and re-think and even question the content this way. We could use the feedback to push our content differently. There are innumerable possibilities to experiment with this medium.

4. Why a thriller? Most web series that have worked have been comedies. Do you think the audience is ready for a thriller? What kind of audience are you trying to reach out to?

Yogi : I truly believe there is no research on what works with the Indian entertainment space. There is a hunger among audiences for every kind of content. We cannot say that only a romance genre will work or a comedy. If we make honest content and we entertain people then there is a space for everyone. Every content should surpass boundaries and should reach out to the world. And not just India audiences sitting in any part of the world should like it.

Ravi : Like I've said earlier thrillers are the most exciting genre to work on. Thrillers are killers! They work for people.

Saameer : I would ask, why NOT a thriller? One of the reasons why comedy series have worked because people have primarily made comedies for the web. The audience today is exposed to all sorts of content from around the globe and if quality content with good story is made available they will lap it up. The whole purpose of being on the web is to be different provide alternate entertainment and that is what we aim to do.

5. In recent times, web series have become extremely in India due to platforms like TVF & shows like Pitchers. How is Hankaar different from these shows? And what steps are you undertaking to ensure this difference is visible?

Yogi :  Yes, Hankaar is an experiment of all sorts. When we launched the promo, the feedback we got was equal to that of a film. Well our approach towards making this in-terms of production is like an Indie Film. Also the approach of making a Thriller/ Drama about 5 people itself is new as a premise. We have tied-up with Pocket Films who is also a co-producer on the series. Pocket Films will give us a wider reach. Currently we don't have any marketing budget and hope the series picks up on word of mouth promotion.

Saameer : The web is surely moving towards alternative filmed entertainment and the success of short films as a genre is testament of the same. Web series is an extension of that where it provides continuity while being different. Hankaar is different in content and form while maintaining film like production qualities. We will give it a fairly wide release online through organic social media and other digital promotional initiatives and are confident that the content will engage the audience and will spread the word.

6. You have got an interesting mix of established actors from theater to newcomers in you series? Tell us a bit about the cast and the casting process?

Ravi : We were very clear that a series of this kind would need a bank of varied talent. Sobi roped in Sanjay Bhatia who has a vast experience with theatre. He has worked on the production of Chanakya and has a foothold working with TV series like Crime Patrol, this gives us a key to open doors to some serious talent banks. We are rich with talent on this project. And have a team of people who will back us and support us to the very finish.

Yogi : Thanks to the 48 Hour Film Project contacts and filmmakers, I had access to talent and some actors came forward with the help of Talkaholics Productions.

            Hankaar                             (From extreme right) Yogi Chopra and Ravi Iyer with the cast and crew of Hankaar

 7.  You've made an exciting 5 min trailer for the series that looks as good as any TV serial trailer. Tell us about the pre-production and the effort that has already gone into the project?

Yogi : We were working on Hankaar promo as an activity for Adobe. And at that point I had a story synopsis and just an idea. With an idea I teamed up with Talkaholics Productions. I approached Ravi with a promo script, a list of actors I had in mind, I had almost finalised the locations and yes, a poster of the film. This helped Ravi understand the concept better and fill the gaps. With just a pre-production of 10 days we were ready to roll. Everything went clock-wise and with the magic of Anshul's edit we were ready.

Ravi : When Yogi approached me, he had several ideas. I culled them out and brought it down to a tighter mix. We brought in a few friends such as Sanjay Bhatia and Anshul who brought a lot to the table. The sheer fun of working on a collaborated effort excited me. I strongly believe that a film is a work of collaboration and a lot of fun can happen on the job. And working on the promo proved that. So here we are now all ready to work on a web series with the same bunch of talented individuals.

8. Is this your first experience at crowdfunding? Why crowdfund?

Yogi : Yes this is our first experience in Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is an exciting way of raising funds specially for something that's experimental.

Ravi : I have been discussing and contemplating on crowd funded ventures for a long time now. But this is my first crowd funded venture and I am really looking forward to it.

9. What is that you intend to achieve through this campaign? How much are you looking to raise and how will the proceeds be used? Do the donors get anything in return?

Sameer : The primary objective of the campaign is to bridge the gap in funds (Rs. 8 lacs) required to deliver a high quality entertaining product. The intent is to allow Yogi to make the film as he envisions it without any pressure from the producers including myself with regards to the content. Additionally, we are sure that passionate supporters of good and alternate films will come forward to support our endeavour as well as be our brand ambassadors, promoting the film upon release.

Ravi : The money will be used to pay off the Talent which includes 20%, production expenses which is 40% and post production expenses which is 40%. We intend keeping the production standards really high.

LK2 Event 2                                                                                           Saameer Mody

10. Have you mapped out your distribution plan for the series? What channels are you looking at distributing the series on?

Saameer : The plan is to go give it a wide release across our digital platforms and reach out to a larger audience. Some platforms have also shown interest in co-promoting the series. It is still in its early days, but one thing is sure, it will be an entirely digital release.

11. When will the series go on the floors and by when can we expect to see it?

Yogi : We plan to shoot the series in the month of November and December and we hope to release it in January next year.

Also check this out:

Join The Jamuura Brigade & Make Your Film

Online Workshop On 'Secrets Of Screenwriting' With Kamlesh Pandey, At 6 PM, On 8th August


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