A crime thriller in the digital age

Director Sajit Warrier on the making of his cyber crime thriller ‘Chakravyuh…’ streaming on MX Player

Director Sajit Warrier’s web series Chakravyuh — An Inspector Virkar Crime Thriller that started streaming on MX Player on March 12, pitches the old world against the new digital age. Shot at various locations in posh South Mumbai, including trippy underground clubs, the series resonates with the youth, capturing their joys and inner struggles accurately. Based on Piyush Jha’s novel, ‘Anti-Social Network’, the cyber crime series is packed with twists and turns, says the director. Prateik Babbar essays the lead role.

Excerpts from an interview with Sajit Warrier.

Was Prateik Babbar the first choice as lead man in Chakravyuh? If so, why?

Prateik Babbar was always our first choice. He has an intensity in his eyes, which was perfect for this part…. This is rarely tapped and it was such a pleasure to work with him. From physically transforming himself for this role to creating a character with lot of pent up fury, this was a very challenging and he just rocked it totally.

Could you narrate your experience shooting for the series ?

The most wonderful aspect of this series was that everyone really connected with the story. So we got a great team to work together on this project. Applause Entertainment believed in this story and we had a wonderful cast and crew. It was an overall team effort and I am so happy I could work with all of them.

Your previous projects, Fired and Trial of Satyam Kaushik, were also thrillers. What attracts you to thrillers?

I remember the first movie I saw as a child was this wonderful mystery thriller Picnic At The Hanging Rock by Peter Weir. I think it affected me so much that I am totally drawn to mystery and thrills. Horror and comedy are the other two genres, which I get immense satisfaction from.

As founder of Warrier Films, could you describe your journey?

I started as a fine arts student in Vadodara and then moved to screenwriting and directing at UCLA, Los Angeles, where I worked with some really talented filmmakers in Hollywood. When I arrived in Mumbai, I set up Warrier Films and we just enjoyed doing branding and animations for MTV VH1 and other channels. Storytelling and experimenting in the visual medium began with short films and video art. I think there’s so much opportunity in the visual medium that it’s a great time to try out different genres and have a unique stylistic approach. For me, storytelling as a visual experience is an endless ride. This is just the beginning.

You are a director, writer and an editor. What role do you identify with the most?

For me, filmmaking is the ultimate visual art. As a director, I bring in a vision which I feel is unique and that’s what I identify with most. I think as a director, my strength is to keep an audience engrossed in the story viewing process. The social experience of keeping an audience engaged in a dark theatre is what makes me want to enhance my directing approach.

With the entry of OTT platforms, the canvas has widened for young filmmakers who want to experiment with the medium.

It is with the advent of OTT platforms that I am able to tell my stories. I have been in innumerable meetings where people have told me “The story is a little too out there”. Well this medium is all about being out there and telling stories and characters, which have a unique perspective. Stories are being attempted, which would have never been tried before. Also we can attempt stories in budgets that would not have worked before. Even COVID-19 quarantine has helped build this habit of binge watching in audiences. There’s no fatigue for watching content now, which should help us try unique stories. So these are exciting times.

You have your roots in Kerala. Where are you based currently?

I am currently settled in Mumbai, but I have strong roots in Kerala and Kolkata. However, in the era of Zoom meetings, it hardly matters where you are. We can be anywhere we want to be.

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