In this exclusive conversation, the filmmaker discusses her new 11-episode web series that will be available for streaming on SonyLIV from December 9.
Known for directing films such as Nil Battey Sannata (2016), Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017), and Panga (2020), Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari is ready with her first fictional web series Faadu. Featuring Pavail Gulati and Saiyami Kher in lead roles, the romantic drama will premiere on SonyLIV on December 9.
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Tiwari says it’s a love story unlike any other. Two people with starkly different worldviews and ways of living try to navigate ambition, desire, and dreams while dealing with the curveballs that life and their choices throw at them. Written by Gujarati playwright and director Saumya Joshi with music by Santhosh Narayanan, Faadu tries to cover the delicate distance between need and want.
In this candid conversation, Tiwari talks about the web series, her decision to cast Gulati and Kher, why she finds the longer format a lot more challenging than making films, and the ever-changing meaning of love.
Q. Why the title Faadu?
A. Because the generation of today doesn’t want anything good; they want everything to be faadu. They can’t settle for anything less than that. Everything needs to be great, it has to be mind-blowing.
Q. This is your second web series after Break Point (2021). What draws you to this longer format of visual storytelling?
A. I consider this my first web series because Break Point was a documentary web series and that too a very different format. It was non-fiction. That’s a very different way of telling a story. Faadu is out-and-out fiction. So I would say this is my debut in the fiction space.
It is different because you get to work with a lot of characters. You get to experiment more. Making a web series requires a more mature sense of filmmaking because you’re not making one but four films together. Mostly all stories are plot-driven but this one is character-driven which makes it more challenging. It’s the characters that are taking this story forward and it has multiple characters.
It was a very good learning experience. Something like this has not been explored in the web series space in India. I am therefore very excited. I have put in all my effort—100 percent or 200 percent whatever you may want to call it—to make sure that everything I do for this web series is on par with international standards.
It was very important for me to personally look into everything, each big and small detail. I am also a little hands-on. This is the first time I’ve had a second unit director. I’ve never had one in any of my films. It was very important for me to create a very different kind of mood for this story.
Q. What do you mean when you say something of this sort has not been attempted in the Indian web series space before?
A quintessential love story that is character driven has not been explored at least here in the web series space. Also, our writer (Saumya Joshi), it’s his first time writing a screenplay. He is a theatre writer, director, and poet. Together, we have tried to create something very pure, something that at least I have not seen here before. The audience will experience something unique.
Q. How did Saiyami Kher and Pavail Gulati come on board for this? How was your experience working with them?
A. I’d seen one film of Saiyami and I’d seen Pavail in Thappad. I found a spark in them. With all my projects I make sure to go out of the box and find actors who have not been seen in a particular role and I try to explore their potential in my films. Therefore, Pavail and Saiyami. And Saiyami also because Manjiri (her character in Faadu) is a Maharashtrian and I felt there was a lot of Manjiri in Saiyami and that she could use a lot of herself in the story.
Q. All your films, whether it be Nil Battey Sannata, Bareilly Ki Barfi, or Panga, in spite of being uplifting stories of women, are very different from each other. How do you decide which story to tell?
A. I always feel like every story I tell needs to have a clearly-defined purpose. I should know why I am making it. It’s very important because it takes about one-and-a-half to two years to make a film. Faadu also happened in January 2020 and now we’re nearing the end of 2022. So it’s taken almost three years. So it is very important that through the stories I choose, I try to tell something different and reflect the changing times of the society we live in and the changing minds of our audiences.
Q. Do you think people with such differing ideologies as the lead characters in Faadu can stay together for the long haul?
A. For every generation and decade, love has a very different meaning and that’s what Faadu is trying to explore. Love in this generation is very different. Love is also ambition. Love is also dreams. Love is also compatibility. Different people can be together; it all depends on what kind of compatibility they have and how much they are ready to go with each other to understand their life’s path. Faadu explores all that. In this day and age when everything is so fast, I feel that the meaning of love has changed a lot.