‘Happy to be Single’ is being touted as South India’s first web series. How did the idea of starting something like this come to you?
Even before this venture, I was well aware of web series trend in the western countries. Over the last two years, I have done quite a few short films. In the last three-four years, the social networking revolution really caught the imagination of people in India and this enabled short films to get a good audience base. Any short film with quality content and proper marketing was able to get recognised with people making a habit of sharing quality works. This got us thinking and we felt the time was ripe enough to experiment with a web series. Having said that, it is still at a very early stage and there is a long way to go before web can become a viable medium. After launching our first poster, we have been getting calls from different states to appreciate our new attempt.
Tell us a little about your background. Are you a professional writer-director?
Well, I am a Software Engineer. It all started with my passion towards dance. I learnt a bit of classical dance at the age of 10 and from there, my interest shifted towards Western Hip Hop. Prabhu Deva and Michael Jackson are my biggest inspiration. So, I wanted to learn it professionally. I was a company dancer in Swingers, one of the leading dance companies in South India. But I did not want to let go off my education as I believe education helps to turn mirrors into windows which made me complete my engineering successfully. But I was very sure that cinema will be my career path.
I have acted in a couple of short films of which ‘Appavi’ (meaning Innocent in Tamil) and ‘Saturday’ were huge hits among the Tamil audience. They have won several awards in national and international short film festivals. I have worked in Shanker’s film ‘I’ and Vishnuvardhan’s next project, both of which are yet to release. Currently I am working on a project with actor Adhi. I don’t want to limit myself with acting and so decided to set a foot into writing and direction. Direction has always been inside me. This is my first attempt and I believe that I will capture heart and minds of people.
The rom-com genre is sure a popular one but is also overtly clichéd. How different is ‘Happy to be Single’ going to be from countless other rom-coms that we have already seen till now?
Globally, yes, rom-coms are quite common but for the Indian audience, it will be refreshing. From an Indian context, it is the ‘Devdas’, ‘Laila-Majanu’ type love stories that are overtly clichéd. And in our series, the love element is just a small thread. In fact, we are saying NO to romance (laughs). Ideally, I would want to categorise the web-series as fantasy-comedy than rom-com but for now, I will call it a rom-com and leave it to the audience to decide what is apt.
Besides, our story will be closer to reality and our target audience will be able to connect better with it. The screenplay will be quite new to the Indian audience. Especially the youth, we believe, will like the flow of this series. There will be a bit of fantasy, which will keep them glued.
Internet is big and starting something like this is definitely going to have many takers in today’s day and age, especially youngsters. It seems you had a target audience in mind from the start.
Yes definitely. We did have a target audience in mind. Over the last two-three years, there has been great response for quality content thanks to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Majority of people on the social media nowadays fall within the age bracket of 17-30. And that will be our target audience. Also, in few years, we will see people from all age groups take to social networking sites. So there is a potential market.
Is the series going to be in Tamil?
The story is set in Chennai and we had to stay as close to reality as we could. So Tamil had to be the choice of language. To be precise, the series is going to be in Tanglish (mix of Tamil and English – the way youngsters communicate in this region) but we will be having English sub-titles to reach a wider audience.
Give us some backgrounder on the actors you have cast.
We are a very young team consisting of professionals who have either made their debut into films or have good experience in the short film and theatre circuit. While our actress Deekshitha is currently working on project directed by S.S Kumaran, Swaminath is an aspiring actor with experience in theatre, short films and advertisements.
On the other hand, we have Aaryan Dinesh Kanagaratham singing for us, a talented singer who recently sang the track ‘Magudi’ from the film ‘Kadal’, composed by A R Rehman.
Have you decided a time frame for the series?
Since this is the first of its kind in India, we decided to limit the series to few episodes (probably five to six episodes) with each spanning 10-12 minutes. This is an experimental attempt and based on the people’s reception to this new concept, we will fine tune the length and time frame for our subsequent ventures.