Actors Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of the NewsX India A-list series. In the exclusive conversation, the duo talked about their first Spotify original, “Virus 2062.” When asked about what made them come on board for the project, Chadha said, “Mantra has been in theatre and radio for a while. His company said that there is a script that has come from Spotify and it is one of their international properties, which they want to do in India. The script was very meta and interesting. Ali and I both have been in theatre. So, we have an interest in doing a radio play and creating drama with our voices.”
Fazal described the clinching factor as saying, “In college I was doing a little bit of theatre in Bombay and I chanced upon a BBC play written by Shakespeare. Later, I went to London and there I saw that BBC radio plays are a big thing. There are stretches of scenes we have played out that have no background sound, it is just pure voice. It is very fascinating. I think that was my buy-in.”
When asked if the kind of world we live in today inspired the story, he said, “Post-2019, we are living in a topsy-turvy world. This is 2062, this guy is coming back from there. I kid you not, the way these guys have written it, you just buy it. It feels like, okay, maybe I could follow one narrative, maybe I could follow another one, maybe I am already in one of them, and it all seems possible after 2019.
Sharing her opinion about actors having the opportunity to now explore these new forms, Richa expressed, “I know Kalki used to do conversations. I know people have done those kinds of podcasts but to do a dramatic podcast, that’s really interesting. For me I think the big challenge is quality control. With the boom on the OTT spaces, god knows how long it will last, like now everything is being made. I think that is the only challenge now. With TV-ish OTT, how to filter out that ? To stick to the good series, the well-written stuff with the good makers.”
Talking about whether fan-following is the reason to start a joint production with Richa, Fazal said, “Yeah, that definitely is one reason. Also, me not jumping into more shows right now is because it takes a lot of my time and effort and focus. Sometimes, I am a little less on those fronts. The reason why we created a production house is also to take everyone with us to the other side. There is world cinema, there are other cinemas that are joining up and we are joining hands with people outside as well. It is nice to share notes after decades with the rest of the clan out there. There is going to be content for everybody.”
When asked about her experience of working in Dehradun, Chadha shared, “We haven’t started shooting actually. We are in the process of fundraising. We have applied to a few grants. I think we are doing the right thing when it comes to being independent film producers, although both of us do not have any experience. One learns from one’s mistakes. We have got a perfect ambience for our hill, town and boarding school.”
On a concluding note, Fazal expressed his desire do more of such audio podcasts and said, “We were chatting with someone from Spotify and Mantra and we were already cracking on new ideas that we were bringing on the podcast. It is so nice because it is bringing back people, maybe not to reading books but to some form of using your own brain and imagination, which over time we have lost because of the visual aid that we are so stuck to.”