How to make a totally F*@#ed Up Web-Series?
If you think “Bang Baja Barat” is a typo of Band Baja Barat then get out for being such a slo-w-th person in this Airtel Girl Era. Or if you are not interested in film making [all rights reserved to pretentious and serious film makers alike] then this essay is not for you. Go get life and enjoy yourself. Otherwise, let’s take a deep dive into the picture perfect — f*!@ed up world of Pawan & Sahana, meticulously crafted by Anand Tiwari & Team.
Gaining a million YouTube views episode after episode is of course the sign of becoming the cash-cow for eye-ball hungry digital marketers, but it is certainly not the sign of cinematic success. So, is BBB like those “Devar Ke Saath Bhabhi ka Romance” YouTube Videos? People may say that BBB did well because of the unexpected bikini bomb of sensational Angira Dhar or serial kisses scattered uniformly across the 5 episode web-series or YRF brand larger than life scale & style or free flow of asanskari language & themes. [Yes! It has a dildo, ladies! Wait, wait. Don’t go to Flipkart and Snapdeal, there is no deal at all. It is completely non-Sanskari to have pleasure in MODIfied utopia!] But, I think there is something more than that, something denser and deeper. The success of BBB is not cheap thrills of coming of the age videos [read, MTV chhap “Webbed” & “BIG F”] served on YouTube platter. The reason for the overwhelming response to Bang Baja Barat is its 24 carat characters, meticulously designed screenplay and makkhan like editing. May be it’s too audacious to call it a cinematic success, but it is certainly righteous to jot down bullet points for screenwriters to craft engaging stories.
Let’s take a ride.
1. Our World — Their World
It’s established in the beginning of the series that the guy and the girl belongs to a different world [so as world-views]. It is obvious to have casting, dialogues and costume to support the premise. That’s the first layer of screenwriting. But, screenwriting is like an onion. If you unfold it layer by layer, it leaves a watery impact. Pure and Intense. BBB achieves this at many instances.
The introduction to would be in-laws, the gau-mutra sequence, family tree white-board, etc are refreshing comic points to depict Our World — Their World. But, the real brilliance of screenwriting unfolds in the following shot.
YES! Tupperware bottle wrapped in polythene, that’s the real Indian middle class! Watch the series again and see how carefully they have crafted Our World-Their World.
2. Words are Boring
It’s cliched to say that film is a visual medium so don’t tell me show me. But, this is the point where screenwriters often fumble. Throughout the series BBB doesn’t attempt to speak when it’s not needed. And of course that makes it visually smart and engaging.
Cultural shock and the acceptance by the would be father in-laws have been shown so delicately. Expressions and actions [cookies and chai] are telling you the story. Don’t get boring with words or dialogues.
In another pivotal moment, the devastated state of Sahana, guilt of her mother and high-self-image-syndrome of Sahana’s father is shown in a single shot. Apart from a solid screenwriting, it’s a delight form director and actors alike.
3. The Laxman Rekha
There is no saffron agenda attached, but yeah you must know your place and position. Because space itself is a powerful story element.
In addition to, the clean and clear Sunsilk cinematography, the extra layer of character positioning in a given frame plays a major role in reinforcing the current state of relationships between characters. This is one of the most promising element put forward by the creative team of BBB. Let’s examine this.
Look at that, when Sahana and Pawan met for the first time on a sizzling Tinder Date. The guy and the girl are so nicely boxed—supporting the script that they are different and apart — from different worlds.
Can you see the crystal clear cluster of three couples? Their spatial relation speaks of what’s going in their mind about the situation they are into. [I want write the situation here, please go watch the first episode. :/ ]
Without any word, the frame itself portrays that the bride’s father is not concerned about anything except his reputation. The groom has went closer to his mother’s world view and the bride & her mother are stuck in the same web of life-events. And of course, the groom’s father — who is going to change the game in the end — is leading from the front. He is the HERO! Brilliant Frame!
One frame where the story began — in the passionate romantic closeness of a modern couple living in their own world, and the other frame where the distance has grown so much between the same couple amidst the flashy wedding, that it seems impossible to stitch the gap. [Also, try to find the groom in the frame. It’s difficult, right? For him also it’s difficult to find his place in this chaotic — heart breaking situation.]
4. Scale & Symbol
BBB looks giant and flashy and glamorous. Of course that is partly due to YRF association. But, the credit should also go to smart and little inserts of these “flying” shots. These small inserts suddenly gives the BIG BUDGET FILM LOOK to this tiny web series.
Similarly, clever inserts of symbolic props work as an effective way to show the arc of the story. One is the shaking bell [any idea why?] and the other one is the breaking bond. Find out more.
5. Wait Baby — Go Slow
The small stories within a story unfold slowly. BBB never goes direct to the situation. It starts with something absurd, then it takes audience along with it to think what exactly is happening, and then it reveals the stuff hidden in the script. By building such small tension throughout the script, it ultimately succeeds to engage the audience and takes a viewer along with its character on this crazy ride.
This is the first shot when you hear that Pawan’s father is finding a well inside a luxurious resort. The situation is of course comic. But, why is he finding a well? Well, wait and watch.
The party is in a full swing, the epic high moment on the stage.
Now, after a popular Bunty Aur Babli item song, it’s Sahana’s turn to turn on the dance floor. But, where is Sahana? Wait Baby — Go Slow. Stay with us. We’ll reveal it soon!
Here as well, screenwriters want to create a little 30 seconds tension. Pawan finds a RED dupatta of Sahana floating in the shallow water. Did she commit suicide? :O
No, she is smoking on the beach, dude. Chill.
6. Hint It — Link It
The entire BBB is tightly linked. There are hints and suggestions spread across the episodes. This gives a feel of being there and experiencing the time-space of the story. It makes it feel coherent. Giving hints in some part and revealing the layers underneath later, always make the story more “real” and “believable”.
Above is the shot from the first episode. In fact, from first couple of minutes into the show and you will see this frame. But, see what it hints at — two couples!
Look at that Pink-y delight! How interestingly it links the two episodes as well as absurd differences of Our World — Their World!
Dialogue in this shot goes something like this, “Promise me, that you will never lie to me”.
At surface it seems a routine rom-com dialogue but this is a crucial promise, absence of which has shaped Sahana’s inner turmoil.
From the beginning, the father seems victim of his wife’s affairs. However as this frame hints, it’s the father who has multiple facets to his personality [read, affairs] in his lifetime and the mother is the actual victim.
Uneasy expression on Sahana’s face seems uncalled for. “But, why?” that will be revealed later. Similarly, Neil’s character loves nothing but his madness for photography is established subtly in the very first shot when he appears. This characteristic of him will also be revealed later in the series.
And finally, Groom’s mother tells this to groom’s best friend — also her daughter’s lover [of course she is unaware of it, didn’t you get it from first photo of this section?!]
“Bahen ki Shaadi ki Zimmedari Tumhari hai, hai na? Janeyu dhaari brahmin chaiye”
[Sister’s marriage is your responsibility. I want a pure Brahmin for her.]
What does it hint at? Season 2?
“Wait Baby — Go Slow.”
“ Wait and Watch.”
Apart from writing on one of the soon-to-be-an iconic web-series of new media, it was great to compile this essay for one more reason. The director of Bang Baja Barat, Anand Tiwari, is one of those “tag-less” self made film makers who surely going to steal the show in the times to come.
Fuck Film School is proud of him!
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