With more than 200 stories told, filmmaker/ actor Sudhanshu Rai has a hat-trick of successful streaming releases and an upcoming Bollywood sci-fi thriller on the anvil. Known as Kahanikaar Sudhanshu Rai on his official YouTube channel, he indeed has a wonderful way of weaving colourful stories even when he is tackling TheGlitz interview, no wonder, his interview is such a delight. Read on…
How did your journey as a filmmaker start?
My journey as a storyteller and filmmaker has followed a course of natural progression. While I grew up being an observant child, I started writing, directing and also acting in plays ever since my education days. In fact, many of my plays have even won awards and accolades. It was nearly five years back when I took up professional storytelling as Kahanikaar Sudhanshu Rai on my official YouTube channel. I dabbled with stories pertaining to genres that weren’t perceived to be very popular then, for example, thrillers, horror, detective, mystery and supernatural. But such stories garnered a phenomenal response and also encouraged me to keep walking on the path I had chosen. Later, my radio show, Kahaniyaan Kahanikaar Sudhanshu Rai Ke Sath on a popular FM channel reaffirmed my belief that the audience was ready for such stories. It was following these experiences that I decided to bring my stories to life on the screen. I made my directorial debut with Chaipatti in which I also acted. Later I reprised the role of Detective Boomrah, a character conceived by me that has attained an iconic stature in contemporary fiction, in a web series, followed by a thriller Chintaa Mani.
Currently, we are filming a Bollywood sci-fi thriller with the most unique storyline and larger-than-life characters that would leave a lasting impression on the audience. So similar to my evolution as a storyteller, my journey as a filmmaker too has been a natural progression.
Since you have mentioned this, what according to you is more important – box office or good content? What would you give more importance to?
Entertainment content has been evolving and transforming at a rapid pace. The audience today consumes content in multiple formats. It makes a content hit or flop irrespective of linguistic or geographical differences. Filmmakers too are not averse to experimenting with unique plots and concepts, thereby it is a win-win proposition for both. The box office, however, is still adhering to the traditional norms that might not be in sync with the changing times. Since the box office is dependent on commercial success, i.e. ticket sale and collection – many filmmakers have stuck to run-of-the-mill content, just packaged differently. While it might act as an initial crowd-puller, success is often short-lived. The changing preferences and tastes of the audience need to be taken into account. Essentially, there is no substitute for good content, whether it is box office, or any other mode of entertainment.
With the digital world catching up, more and more filmmakers are dabbling with unconventional narratives? Would you also prefer unconventional narratives?
My standing today as a storyteller, as well as a filmmaker, is because my stories have always been way apart from conventional narratives. Sci-fi, time travel and supernatural thriller stories were always believed to be ahead of time, especially for the Indian audience, but on the contrary, my stories hailing from such genres have been the most popular. Even as a filmmaker, the plot and treatment of my shows and movies are anything but conventional. While this pretty much makes me a strong advocate of unconventional narratives, I must add that the audience too is not willing to comprise when it comes to the novelty of concepts and narratives.
Speaking about the role of digital, it definitely has created a lot of avenues for films. Earlier, sustaining a film with an unusual narrative had many roadblocks as compared to the ones based on tried-and-tested formulae. But today there is no dearth of audience or platform, provided one has a captivating story to tell.
As a storyteller and a filmmaker, which genres enjoy the maximum popularity among audiences across different age groups? And which genre do you enjoy dabbling in?
Different people have different tastes when it comes to cinema. While some find their solace in romantic comedies, others prefer the adrenaline rush triggered by suspenseful thrillers. However, the affinity among audiences for genres, which have rarely been experimented with, has definitely increased of late. The audience has readily accepted many innovative concepts which were unthinkable earlier. Concepts like sci-fi, time travel, supernatural mystery and parallel universe are now being experimented with and received well by the audience.
Even I am a fan of genres and storylines that are not clichés or overdone with. Genres like detective thrillers, mystery, psychological thrillers and also action fascinate me the most.
What are the projects you have undertaken that you are very proud of?
Every story and every movie of mine is equally dear to me, primarily because of the phenomenal response from the listeners and audience. For instance, my debut film Chaipatti was loved immensely by all and the demand for its sequel has been persistent since then. Thereafter, Detective Boomrah too is very close to my heart, especially because it marks the maiden on-screen appearance of the iconic character that has lived in my stories for many years now. And then was Chintaa Mani, which is probably the most experimental offering by Saints Art, a cross between multiple subgenres. These novel stories appealed to me as a writer, filmmaker and also as an actor before the camera. Hence, I would say that I have indistinguishable pride in all my projects.
What are your future projects?
As mentioned, our under-production project is a Bollywood feature film, which is a sci-fi thriller. I play the protagonist who weaves together the plot of the film, and Sourabh Raaj Jain will be seen in a larger-than-life character, while Hiten Tejwani is slated to make an intense appearance. Shobhit Sujay, who has been seen in fearsome avatars in previous Saints Art Originals, is portraying a character which will tickle the funny bone of the audience while Manisha Sharma will also be seen in a pivotal role. The film is being directed by Puneet Sharma, who earlier helmed Chintaa Mani. A major part of the film was shot near Gorakhpur.