“OTT has changed the entertainment market dynamics”

Author Sweta Brijpuria opens up on her new novel-turned-web-series for ALTBalaji and ZEE5 titled Dark 7 White

Hailing from the city of lakes, Bhopal, Shweta Brijpuria has so far authored two novels. Her first book Dark White published back in 2014 has recently been adapted into a series by ALTBalaji & ZEE5 titled Dark 7 White.

Directed by Satwik Mohanty, the ten episode series has a solid ensemble cast featuring the likes of Sumeet Vyas, Nidhi Singh, Jatin Sarna, Monica Chaudhary, Shekhar Chaudhary, Kunj Anand, and Tanya Kalra. The crime mystery series tells the story of a young and power-hungry politician for whom losing is not an option. It is essentially a youth-oriented political thriller that tries to capture the aspirations and restlessness of the youth.

In this interview, Shweta Brijpuria talks about her novel and its adaptation process, the new avenues that OTT platforms are opening up for young novelists, her influences and inspirations as well as upcoming projects.

 Excerpts:

How did you conceive a novel like Dark White which hardly has any positive characters? What was the vision behind it?

Well, the characters of Dark White aren’t positive or negative – they all are actually grey. They are ambitious and gutsy enough to execute what they deeply desire. Say, for instance, if we hate someone and love that person at the same time there will generally be a conflict of thought depending upon the situation. Now, the storyline of Dark White does not think too much, it’s devised to just act and so do the characters.

The recent ALTBalaji & ZEE5 series Dark 7 White is based on your novel Dark White. How different is the series from your novel?

The novel Dark White is quite layered. Adapting it into a two hour long screenplay was quite a challenge for me. I created many versions to convince myself on the possibility of the same, but would always fail. When Snehil Dixit Mehra (Creative Head, ALTBalaji) called me and expressed his interest in adapting it into a web series, I was certainly excited but I also knew the challenges they would face. And trust me, when Mohinder Ji who adapted it said that the first thing he did after reading the novel was to bring it down to a five pager, it felt like an accomplishment to me. Now, in the novel, there actually is a lot more scope. Say, for instance, one of the reviews that I received on the novel was that each of the characters is good enough to have a dedicated novel for itself. You see there are no creative limitations for me as an author but obviously when you are adapting it into a movie or series you have to pick and choose wisely while ensuring that the essence of the novel is retained.

Did you have it in your mind that Dark White had great potential for a film / series adaptation? What took it so long?

Honestly, more than me personally, my family, friends and readers had more confidence in Dark White having the potential to become a film. The time when Dark White was released back in 2014, web series weren’t a trend so all I could think was a thriller film. As I said earlier I just kept on creating different versions of screenplay as I was basically eying a two hour long film. But it just didn’t work out at that time.

Book cover of Dark White

Dark 7 White is one of the better rated Indian shows on IMDb right now with an average user rating of 8.2 out of 10. What do you attribute it to?

Firstly, it feels great that Dark 7 White has been well received by the audience. It is one of the best examples of a good marketing strategy. All the key elements of marketing have been blended extremely well. The star cast, the teasers, product positioning, media planning created a stir amongst the right audience, and in the end, product had everything that the audience was looking for. So technically speaking, it’s the right product at the right time and for the right audience—the key combination behind the popularity of the show.

How do you look at the adaptation process? From the layman point of view could you please explain what makes it different from say writing an original novel? What was your level of involvement in the ALTBalaji and ZEE5 series?

As an author one has complete liberty to play around with the story and the characters, which is rarely the case in adaptation. This I realized during my aforementioned attempts to try and adapt Dark White into a screenplay for feature film. Typically for a film or series, the scope is limited and you can’t leave too much for imagination. Also, it’s very important to cater to the demands of the audience. Readers in comparison have a lot more patience for character and plot building, but the audience of a thriller series needs a fast-paced story or it can quickly leave them restless and lose their focus.

OTT has opened up new avenues for adaptation of existing novels which probably are more suited to long form storytelling. What is your advice to young writers trying to write such novels?

OTT has suddenly changed the entertainment market dynamics and now if you have a story, there already is an audience. The best part is that there is a need for more and more content. I would like to suggest to our young writers to not wait but start writing right away… this is the time!

Tell us about your influences and inspirations.

My parents and my guru Late Shri Gangaramji Shastri have inspired me to keep writing ever since I was a kid.  They taught me to be real and made me understand the importance of drawing inspiration from people whom I come across each day. Also, there is a long list of books and writers that I admire and get influenced from. Sometimes just one sentence or a word put in the right place adds so much.

Do you have any plans of writing a sequel to Dark White? Also, tell us about your upcoming projects.

The sequel to Dark White is almost in place and there are some stories that I will be working on including a biography. Hopefully, I will soon be able to share more details regarding the same.

(Cover image: Author Shweta Brijpuria)

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