Y-Films Head Ashish Patil Discusses Sex Chat With Pappu & Papa And The Burgeoning Web Series Scene In India
Arjun is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who, before stepping into the glamorous world of entertainment reporting, assisted acclaimed filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron and Christopher Nolan.
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Y-Films, the youth wing of Yash Raj Films, has been putting out some really top notch web content over the past few months. Man’s World, Bang Baaja Baaraat, Ladies Room and their ongoing web series, Sex Chat With Pappu & Papa, are just a few popular properties in the eclectic mix of work that has led the company’s YouTube channel jump from a dormant 13k odd subscribers to a whopping 4 lakh, with over 50 million views, in 9 months!
“We’ve been able to experiment with different formats in the last few months – from web series to short films to music videos to a band…even with themes like romance and comedy and drama…and I think the response has been fantastic,” says Y-Films’ Business & Creative Head, Ashish Patil, who seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge about the burgeoning digital entertainment space in India.
We had a great, insightful chat with Patil about his recently released and much-lauded directorial debut, Sex Chat With Pappu & Papa – a fun, light-hearted web series on sex education – definitely something that primary schools in India should consider showing to students.
He also spoke in great detail about web series in general and the whole digital content space, warning us that “there is a tsunami of garbage heading our way” and that a “quality shakeout” will eventually happen.
So check out what ‘Y-Films ke Papa’ and also the first Maharashtrian Batman aka ‘Batmanoos’ (you’ll know why), Ashish Patil has to say, in this exclusive interview with TubeScoop:
Sex Chat With Pappu & Papa is in a slightly different space as compared to the other web series Y-Films has produced, like Ladies Room or Bang Baaja Baaraat…
Well, if you think about it; everything we’ve done so far – short films, creating a crazy-ass band (6 Pack Band) or for that matter, web series – each one is very different from the other. I think the theme that ties all of them together, if at all, is the that all of them have something to say. There is something relevant for people. It’s not like, ‘Yaar, internet hai, censor nehi hai, chalo 1-2 gaali dalte hain,’ you know? I think that’s a mistake most people are making with web content these days. It’s stupid!
But you’re absolutely right. This one, while it sounds the most provocative, is actually the most innocent of the lot.
What made you choose this as something you would want to make your directorial debut with?
It happened more by accident. I actually wanted Anand [Tiwari] to direct it. But he was also acting and he said, ‘Mujhse dono nehi ho payenge…ya toh mei acting kar loonga, ya directing kar loonga.‘ Then I reached out to Sumeet Vyas. Sumeet actually took a crack at it for 3 weeks but then somewhere along the way, it was just not happening. And then he got busy with Permanent Roommates.
Eventually, I started running out of options. And then as luck would have it, I had just wrapped up our next feature film, Bankchor, so I had a small window there. And then, Adi [Aditya Chopra], Ranveer [Singh] and team were out for like 3 months for Befikre…so you know, I thought, ‘Why don’t I take a crack at it?’ Because the theme is very close to my heart. At the heart of it, it’s a father and son story. The idea was triggered by a question my son had asked me. So, that space came very naturally to me. And then of course, sex comes very naturally to me! (laughs). So I decided that I’ll take a crack at it.
How was the experience?
You know, it’s a very, very tricky subject yaar. That thin line between sleaze and humour on a subject like this is very tricky to manage. Also I wanted to make sure it doesn’t get complicated. I mean you’re explaining to a 6-7-year-old, you got to be simple about those analogies and everything.
Of course, I was blessed to have a fantastic cast and crew. I knew I needed to have the right crew to make sure that – in case I fuck up, and I know I fuck up quite a bit – they will be there to watch my back. And these are people who I’ve worked with very closely over the years. From Adil [Afsar, DOP] to Antara [Lahiri, editor] to Shraddha [Pasi], my Associate Director – they’re all people who I’m not embarrassed to fuck up in front of. Then life became very easy yaar and I got a lot of time to spend with the material. So I was very clear in my head about what I wanted.
So it [directing] happened not by design, it happened somehow, kind of by accident but I’m really glad it did. It was a blast every day. And if you’re having fun on sets na, it translates, it shows on screen.
Let’s talk about your secret identity – Batmanoos
In the second episode, we have this little Batman v Superman tribute…so that entire day of shoot, I was wearing that Batman mask and directing! I’m the first Maharashtrian Batman – Batmanoos (laughs). I was like, ‘Cut, action, is it lunchtime yet?’ (in Batman voice). It was mental fun man!
Another thing I’ve done in this, and you’ll notice it in the second episode, is that we’ve tried to do something like a Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like we got Pawan (Ali Fazal) from Bang Baaja Baaraat in episode 2. I’ve got Dingo and Khanna (from Ladies Room) coming in the last episode…So what this does for me is bring in the fan base of those shows and characters into this, and vice versa.
What are the upcoming web series that Y-Films is working on?
Some of the stuff in the pipeline…you’re going to have to wait and watch. Coming to specifics, as far as ideas are concerned, there is definitely Bang Baaja Baaraat Season 2 waiting to happen, Ladies Room 2 waiting to happen, Love Shots 2, Man’s World 2.
Sex Chat With Pappu And Papa Season 2 – which will go beyond sex. The series will get into other taboo topics which a lot of children have questions about, which we don’t answer– be it religion, politics, terrorism, death, divorce. Now these are important questions which kids have, and it’s important we talk to them.
So we will do follow up seasons to all of these for sure. And we’ve got a couple of other new rabbits in the hat that we’re definitely going to pull out. You’re going to see a teaser to one of them at the end of the last episode of Sex Chat With Pappu And Papa. I’m very excited about that show actually, because it’s again something we’ve never done. it’s a relevant idea for today’s audience.
Future of web series in India?
See, from what I understand, after the guys that are already here like the Hotstars, the Eros and the Voots, there are 38 more OTT platforms set to launch!
And I know of some of the stuff that’s been commissioned or greenlit…so, let me tell you; there is a tsunami of garbage that’s coming our way…and all under the umbrella of youth fiction! The kind of bullshit that used to get pitched to us, like: ‘It’s a story of a DJ’ or ‘3 girls on a road trip’ or ‘a guy who runs a shack in Goa’ and I would say, ‘yaar, kya hai ye? ye kyun…youth fiction kyun hai? And they would say, ‘Oh you know, because the walls will be red in his house!’ or ‘arrey sir, they say ‘fuck it’ and all that.’ I’m like, ‘…dude what’s wrong with you people?’ (laughs)
In the long term, what is going to happen, is hopefully the business model will get figured out because it doesn’t exist right now. Right now, no one’s making money. But over a period of time, a quality shakeout will happen, the audience for web content is going to scale up given the size of Indian population which is plugged into the internet. Also, broadband will get cheaper and faster, data services will get cheaper… and a business model will fall into place.
You can watch episodes of Sex Chat With Pappu & Papa, below: