By Vishnu Makhijani
New Delhi– He’s played a variety of roles in his over-five-decade journey in Bollywood, but is remembered primarily as a ferocious villain. Now, Raza Murad is all set to emerge in a new avatar in the “Pyaar On The Rocks” web series, a romantic comedy with an urban twist, and confesses he was surprised when he was approached to play the stubborn uncle of the lead actress.
“I was surprised when I was offered this role where I had to play a man who is dominating in public but timid in front of his wife. It was fun and fulfilling to play such a different character,” Murad told IANS in an email from Mumbai of the five-episode series that went live on YouTube channel “Filmy Fiction” on Tuesday.
It’s the story of three bachelor friends who live their life to the fullest until a beautiful girl enters one of their lives and moves into the bachelor pad. The series starts from the point the couple breaks up but the girl refuses to move out. Each episode is 18-minutes long and will air every Tuesday.
The series features, among others, Pavail Gulati, who shared screen space as Amitabh Bachchan’s son in Anurag Kashyap’s “Yudh” TV series; Abhishek Saha, the lead actor of web series “Life Sahi Hai”; and Aneesha Shah, lead actress in Amazon Prime series “Go Viral”.
So how was it working with youngsters in the web series, co-directed by Prasun Jindal and Vedd V. Rawtaani?
“It was a new team of youngsters who were very innovative, full of ideas. What really impressed me was their uncompromising attitude towards work. It was an experience for me to work with an entire new team and I am pleased with the outcome,” said Murad, 71, a cousin of actress of Zeenat Aman and who has appeared in over 200 Bollywood films.
Does he feel there is a shift in audience interest to digital media?
“An audience is an audience, whether it watches on a big screen or on the web. Of course, youngsters today are moving towards the web and they are looking at something new, interesting and fast-moving when it comes to content… Their liking has changed from the soapy saas-bahu dramas and reality shows,” the veteran explained.
Murad will next be seen on the big screen in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama “Padmavati”, in which he plays Jalaluddin Khilji, the first sultan of the Khilji dynasty who reigned from 1290 to 1296. The film created a buzz when it was reported that he slapped actor Ranveer Singh 24 times during the shooting. What was that all about?
“Unfortunately it’s true. I had to slap him 24 times as Mr. Bhansali is a perfectionist. He was not satisfied initially so we had to retake the shot. But it is nice of Ranveer, he told me to not get upset as the shot has to be done as per director’s requirements. If I would have slapped him one more time, it would have been the silver jubilee of thappads,” Murad said.
Speaking of the growth of web series in recent times and its impact on cinema and TV, co-directors Jindal and Rawtaani said: “Web series is definitely a new and booming market. The main reason for its growth is newer and fresher content without censorship. It has definitely bridged the gap between the creators and audience.”
They said it had affected the cinema market; people did not have to pay and go to a theatre to watch a movie. “The movie should be exceptionally good to bring the audience to the theatre as there is easier access to free and good content on web.”
Given that the target audience for the series is those aged 15-30 from the metros as well as tier-II cities, their entire marketing strategy is directed towards digital platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, besides YouTube. (IANS)