Getting the players to be candid was not easy: Neeraj Pandey on Bandon Mein Tha Dum
Filmmaker Neeraj Pandey, who is gearing up for his maiden docuseries "Bandon Mein Tha Dum", says getting players to be candid on camera was not easy.
Filmmaker Neeraj Pandey, who is gearing up for his maiden docuseries "Bandon Mein Tha Dum", says the process of working on a documentary is "editorial" in nature as one has to sift through tons of footage while ensuring that it does not have the "vocabulary" of a fiction work.
Pandey's series "Bandon Mein Tha Dum" chronicles the India cricket team's historic test series win against Australia in 2021. The Voot Select non-fiction docuseries will shed light on the trials and tribulations that the Indian cricket team faced ahead of their victory against Australia at their home ground of Gabba. With their win at Gabba cricket ground in Brisbane, the Indian team clinched the test 2-1 and retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
Pandey, director of acclaimed drama-thrillers like "Baby", "Special 26" and the series "Special OPS", told PTI that making "Bandon Mein Tha Dum" after making movies came in handy as he knew what not to do in the new format.
"One form of storytelling definitely helps you in the other. Either in a positive way or in a way that you learn what not to do. It helped me big time. You have to study a lot to make documentaries. The vocabulary of a fictional work and a documentary is different. So I had to be aware to not apply those rules while making this one, because it is a completely different format of storytelling. But you still want it to be as thrilling and exhilarating as any fiction work. The basic principle remains the same," he said.
Pandey recalls watching the series live and feeling that India's win against Australia was "truly cinematic". The victory was an "impossible story", the filmmaker said, calling it "resilience, tenacity and the biggest fight back in the history of test cricket".
"I knew this was a fantastic story to tell. But there was a lot of learning, constantly. Documentaries have a different vocabulary, a different language. It looks easy but it is not. There are tons of material, it is very editorial in nature, so to go through that and carve out a story from there is a challenge".
The filmmaker began work on the project immediately after India's win, in terms of contacting the Australian cricket board for footage, getting in touch with players and figuring out an "exciting ensemble" to tell the story.
The four-episodic series features behind-the-scenes video, candid tales from players Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mohammad Siraj, Rishabh Pant, and Hanuma Vihari, as well as the coaches and journalists who covered the India-Australia series. Getting the players to be candid about the events was not easy, the director said.
"It was extremely difficult. If you talk to their managers, you will get to know," the 48-year-old quipped. "But on a serious note, once they got to know the team that wanted to tell the story, that helped. We had a positive response from them," he added.
Though Pandey's fictional works, from "A Wednesday" to the biopic "MS Dhoni: The Untold Story" have had well-documented feel to them, this is the first time that the maker is delving into the world of documentaries. Pandey said the country never had a robust culture of mainstream docuseries as many didn't even know where to watch them.
"Earlier, we didn't know where to watch these documentaries, forget about making them. Now with the OTT coming in, there is more awareness, accessibility and even the audience is warming up to the format. "A lot of people now prefer to watch documentaries and the trend is good. We will see a huge change in the way people are going to make documentaries and consume them. It is good time for this format," he added.