The Power Of An 80% Female Crew In Kaafir Proves That OTT Is Shaping Women-Centric Content

Parinika Uchil

August 28, 2019

Original Series

7 min


In a time where the digital space is being explored more and more, many women are getting the opportunity to display their talents to the masses. Talk about any field and we are proudly standing in one of the top spots. Be it sports, media, film, news, social service, civil service, leaders, writers, pick any profession and there will be one or two women competing for the top position. In this golden period, we were able to experience a gem like the ZEE5 Original series Kaafir, also created by an 80% women-crew.

Having directed a couple of Bollywood feature films like Gippi and Wake Up Sid, Sonam Nair stepped into the most trending form of entertainment nowadays; web-series. Kaafir which is now available to watch in Kannada has received great praise from the industry for the way it has been executed. One of the prominent reasons why you should watch it is because the producer Siddharth Malhotra was aiming for an all-women crew as he wanted Kaafir to have that women power.

Soon, director Sonam Nair and writer Bhavani Iyer amongst others were roped in and mind you for both of them, it was absolutely imperative that anyone associated with Kaafir ‘had to’ love the story as their own. Digital debutants Dia Mirza and Mohit Raina star in the show as Kainaaz Akhtar and Vedanth Rathod, respectively. Set in Kashmir (but actually shot in Himachal Pradesh), Kaafir also saw little Dishani Jain for the first time on-screen as Seher Akhtar (Kainaaz’s daughter). 

In an exclusive interview with our Hindi team, the director, the producer and writer got talking about the experience of infusing a sensitive topic into a beautifully woven story.

1. Producer Siddharth’s reason for having the majority of the crew to be women…

In his career, producer Siddharth Malhotra spoke how he had learned to identify and know people. Since Kaafir is a women-centric story, he then decided to bring a female director on board. He confessed that he wanted the story to have the women power because 80% of the crew were women. The writer as you know was Bhavani Iyer, Siddharth Malhotra’s wife Sapna Malhotra was the co-producer, Yashaswini YP was the editor, Theia Tekchandaney was Dia’s costume designer, Sonam Nair was the director, even the ADs were women, as told by the producer.

2. Upon doing research, writer Bhavani Iyer grew passionate about Parveen Kauser, the real Kainaaz

Director Saurabh Narang was the first one to introduce the story of Parveen Kauser to Bhavani, from a news article. Her interest peaked and she started gaining information on this case. She soon found out that Parveen called herself Shehnaaz. In an attempt to know what would have gone through Shehnaaz’s mind, how she survived all these years, Bhavani met the woman. What fascinated her was Shehnaaz’s ‘utter lack of any bitterness’. Bhavani also wanted to know about what strand of hope would she have held onto when everything seemed hopeless.

Time is a different concept for prisoners, especially if the sentence is long. The writer further described the feeling of how one year passes on to another until time only becomes a menial word. Bhavani was absorbed by Shehnaz (who was in prison was so long) because there was a ‘Zen-like’ aura about her. Almost as if she had found enlightenment.

3. How director Sonam reacted to Kaafir being a hit…

Claiming to really ‘enjoy’ the success, director Sonam Nair spoke about the hard work the whole team went through. She was humble enough, to be honest in saying that she would go on twitter every ten minutes to see the reactions during the launch. Sonam also stated that you must always enjoy the love and appreciation once it starts coming in. And like other individuals, she decided not to move on from this moment so easily because after working for so many years, and the show becoming such a great hit, Sonam didn’t want to the just move onto the next thing. So I guess we will see Sonam chilling and ‘milking the moment’ fully to enjoy herself for a while.

4. Reasons why director Sonam chose Kaafir

Starting with the known fact that many thoughts keep running in a director’s mind, Sonam confessed that from the time she began her career until now, she would have at least had over hundreds of ideas. The important thing she mentioned was that she is now able to differentiate between the good ideas and the bad. So when Siddharth Malhotra, went up to Sonam to give her a sense of the narrative, Sonam claimed to love every bit; Kashmir, the Hindustan-Pakistan conflict, an incomplete love story and the cross-border tension. Since such an interesting concept found her so easily, she was floored and accepted the project whole-heartedly.

Stay tuned for more from the interview, coming soon.

Do you have any questions for the director? Let us know through the comments box below.

Watch Rajaratha, to continue the entertainment, here on your ZEE5. 

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