‘Less is more when it comes to depicting patriotism on screen’, says filmmaker Shantanu Bagchi as he spills the beans on his directorial debut Mission Majnu – Exclusive – Times of India

Espionage thrillers seem to be the current flavour of Bollywood. Whether it was Raazi, Tiger series or the soon to be released Pathaan, spy thrillers can keep you to the edge of your seat. Even on OTT, series like Mukhbir have garnered immense love from the audience. As another espionage thriller Mission Majnu drops on OTT today, filmmaker Shantanu Bagchi, holding the fort for the very first time tells ETimes on what it entails to come up with a soul-stirring, yet commercial spy thriller…
Espionage thrillers can be a tough genre to master. How did you go about choosing a script for the same, for your directorial debut?

Yes, espionage thrillers can be a little tricky to get right, since so many forces come into play. However, like it is with all movies, the script and story play a huge role. The way you tell the story, shoot the dramatic scenes, convey the right message, everything goes a long way in coming up with a commercially viable, yet quality product. With Mission Majnu, a constant attempt has been made to weave in the hardcore story with the emotional angle. Of course with VFX, songs etc, it translates into the whole package.

Patriotic movies often run the risk of turning overtly caricaturish or jingoistic. How did you make sure to subtly deliver the message across in Mission Majnu without letting it turn overtly dramatic?

According to me, less is more when it comes to depicting patriotism on screen. Any over the top drama, if shown, stems from a place of inherent fear to make the audience desperately like the movie. Even in Mission Majnu, we have made sure that the message is delivered subtly and the characters, though understated, come across as strong and resilient.

How did the idea of casting Sidharth and Rashmika come about, considering Rashmika is just one movie old in the Hindi film industry?

Any decision to cast a lead pair in the movie starts off with an idea, an idea that these two actors will fit the role well. With fresh pairings, it is always a risk since it might or might not work out. For Sidharth and Rashmika, both of them brought something new to the table and had an equally strong command over their skill sets. Since Rashmika plays a virtually impaired woman on screen, she undertook workshops and learnt to cook blindfolded. Sidharth, who plays an undercover spy, pretending to be a tailor also had to take tailoring classes. Apart from this, the movie is set in the 1970s, so most characters are dressed down and not over the top, unlike traditional Bollywood ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’.

Mission Majnu is a commercial potboiler, so what made you opt for an OTT release?

Well, the OTT reach is now huge as millions of people can watch content simultaneously, from any part of the world. Language, amongst other parameters is no longer a barrier since you can watch and enjoy practically any show or movie, all thanks to subtitles. Vis-à-vis Mission Majnu, the movie is releasing in 190 countries, so it was the best way to reach a wider audience.

Mission Majnu is now streaming on Netflix.

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