Within months of the release of first season of Four More Shots Please! Amazon Prime Video had greenlit the second season of the show. Produced by Pritish Nandy Communications Ltd and created by Rangita Pritish Nandy, the web series had a successful release, but not without its share of criticism.
As Rangita herself says, a lot of people thought the show wasn't feminist enough. But she stood by her conviction to tell the story of the four female protagonists in her way. In the second season, we see the four flawed women - played by Bani J, Maanvi Gagroo, Kirti Kulhari and Sayani Gupta - make radical choices in love, career and friendship which redefine their lives.
Rangita explains her thoughts behind the show, which she thinks is perfect for a streaming platform, but would have lost its magic if it was made as a movie.
What were your thoughts after the success of Season 1?
We were surprised by the amount of love we got for Season 1. Of course there was some sharp criticism that the show wasn't feminist enough. But by and large, the fandom was tremendous. I have been making movies since I was 19, and I hadn't seen anything quite like it. I have made movies from Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi all the way up to Mastizaade. There is no way that you can please every person out there. For anybody who said that it wasn't feminist enough, I just want to say that it's a show that celebrates being a woman with equal choice and equal voice.
The protagonists' portrayal has often been criticized as unrealistically glamorous and privileged...
There is an aspirational quality to it. The four girls come from four different corners of Mumbai. Damini (Sayani Gupta) comes from an illustrious journalistic background. Her parents live in a bungalow in Delhi and own the apartment she inhabits in Mumbai. It's a reflection of the money she has been born into, not what she has earned as a journalist. Anjana (Kirti Kulhari) is a migrant to the city, so her apartment is more modest. It is a middle class Prabhadevi or Shivaji Park house.
Umang (Bani) actually lives in a little hellhole somewhere in the bylanes of Colaba. It's a one-room studio apartment, with all her stuff in the same place. We have stayed true to the characters, we are not showing privilege where it does not exist. But perhaps when you look at how beautifully it has been shot, you say, oh, everybody has a really pretty existence here. But it's not true.
You are traditionally a movie producer. Why wasn't Four More Shots Please conceptualized as a movie?
There was a director who was trying to sell me a sad story about these woman protagonists. We tried to write that as a movie for six month, and she kept giving each one of these girls a really sad story, a chest-thumping, devastating, climax. So I trashed it.
I always had this idea of a story of four girls, but not a sad one. This is not something that perhaps three years ago you could make for the movies. But for streaming, it's a beautiful match because you can really stay honest to the content. You can get them to say the stuff you want them to say, they can take non-conforming decisions in their life, and just be genuine, real people.
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Do you think the movie-going audiences are not ready for content like this?
I think the decisions the girls would be taking would have to conform a little bit more. You would need to give it a beginning, middle and end because that's just the way the movies work. Yes, we could have made it as a movie, but it would have been a lesser product.
What are the advantages of making it for a streaming platform?
It has allowed us to really make it a way that we wanted to, with every freedom, every option, with every word being said without worrying about whether it would make it through the censors, the morality brigade, and through right wing trolling.
So it was a conscious decision to go to OTT?
We had made a movie like Chameli, where we tried to humanize a streetwalker, something nobody really even looked at till then. So we've tried to do different things. Of course, we've also conformed plenty. But for this one, we decided to spread our wings a little bit and asked Amazon whether they would spread it with us, and it's been fun.
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