In 2016, the then President Pranab Mukherjee made a strong statement announcing that women will be allowed in combat roles in all armed forces of the country. “In the future, my government will induct women in all fighter streams of our armed forces,” he had said.
Cut to January 26, 2018, and web series The Test Case, a fictional take on the first woman officer to be inducted in the combat role in the male-dominated Indian army, is all set to stream on ALTBalaji. Starring Nimrat Kaur, Juhi Chawla, Akshay Oberoi, Atul Kulkarni, Rahul Dev and Sumit Suri in key roles, the trailer of this woman-oriented series has already intrigued many.
Having worked as an assistant director on Swades: We The People and assistant chief director on Dangal, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, 3 Idiots and television show Satyamev Jayate, Vinay Waikul has joined hands with Ekta Kapoor for the web-series. The series, in which the first episode has been directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, marks his directorial debut and Waikul feels that it's not the platform that matters, but the intent and the story. "This is something which was offered to me, it's not like I don't want to make a feature film. I just chose to do this because the format doesn't really matter. And at the end of the what really matters is that is it a story worth-telling, is it a story that excites me. The Test Case is a story worth telling and it excites me as a director," he said while speaking to News18.com.
Given his career graph, one will spot an array of patriotic-oriented projects. So is it a conscious decision to opt for such ventures? "I just chose those projects because I wanted to work with those ideas. It wasn't a conscious decision but now to think of it, there's a possibility that I have a subconscious inclination towards these kinds of stories. Dangal, Bhaaag Milkha Bhaag and Swades had it. I'm really happy if I have this inclination," Waikul says.
On being asked about the women-centric twist to the age-old army story, Waikul says, "That's the special part of the series, it's not a woman-centric story normally. Because women are not allowed to in the combat role in Army, they get inducted as doctors and nurses. But this is still not in practice. President Pranab Mukherji made a statement that women should be allowed to be inducted into the armed forces, so the series is a take on that. What happens when that happens, how will the life be? It's an interpretation of that."
He further shares that the series also sheds light on the changing dynamics post between the male army men post the entry of a woman. "A woman commando and a story which is centered on a woman-commando is really exciting because when there are 5 men sitting in one room and suddenly a lady enters, the dynamics change. Because of the different point of views, the internal dynamics of the 5 men also change."
The more important thing for him is that by telling a woman, who may be as patriotic as any other man, that she can't serve her country in the same capacity as a man, is unfair. "It's not right. It's injustice in a certain way. The series is opening up a discussion. Is the reason for not allowing women in combat roles big enough or it can be worked upon."
In the trailer and the pilot episode, Nimrat Kaur, who plays Captain Shikha, delivers a top-notch performance. Waikul says that working with her was a fabulous experience and she complimented the show well. "Her whole personality, her army background, it all just helped the show immensely. And she's such a thorough professional and such a fabulous actor. Such a layered performance she's given to the series. She made the material much better than what it was," he shares.
Waikul also admits that the cast and crew wanted everything to be right. "I wanted to get everything and more right. The crew and cast did the best we can and now it'll be out there for people. They'll be right in their own way but at least we've put in our 100 percent in the series and now I'm happy about that," he signs off.