As the second series of OSN hit Hindistani hits screens across the region during Ramadan, we hear from director Aws Al-Sharqi about the latest instalment of the smash-hit musical.
What’s the background?
“The series is a comedy in 30 episodes, each a separate story with a musical show. Sony PMW F3 camcorders were among the cameras used – as far as we know the first time Sony’s Super 35mm XDCAM EX technology has been used in Bombay.
I asked the DoP, Monoj Soni, to use this camera for a day shooting different sequences before we decided which camera to use to shoot the episodes. The results were amazing, especially the high definition feature, and Monoj and I decided to shoot the series with these cameras. I ordered four cameras with cinematic lenses, and the results were as fascinating as I expected.
For shows and songs, we used RED cameras. Each dancing show included 30 or 50 dancers for each song, while we used 400 dancers to shoot the introduction. It wasn’t easy to control such a large number of dancers and technicians, especially since we were shooting in the summer.
We were exhausted and tired but we were all eager to produce such a beautiful work. Such works demand huge budget; for locations, interior designs, stars, cast, and a large number of dancers.
We had to calculate every element and item with a very tight margin for errors; otherwise we would have to face catastrophic losses for each day that goes without an established plan.
More than 300 technicians participated. About 90 per cent of them were Indian and the rest were Arabs. During the editing phase, we used Adobe Premiere Pro CS6. We also used Adobe After Effects CS6 for special effects. The work was on 3D tracking before being put on HD tracks”
How was shooting in Bollywood?
“It’s a special thing. You work with a very professional Indian team. In the beginning, three years ago, I faced some difficulties, especially with language, but we established a common understanding with time, for they are very clever and honest in their work. I was directing a Saudi series and they are Indian, and I had to illustrate every thing step by step. The result was fantastic”
Tell us more about the songs?
“Each song required a great effort, travelling between countries just to produce the vocal part. The music was composed in India, the lyrics in Dubai, some vocals in Saudi by Adel Khamees and others in Damascus or Beirut by Hadiyah, both famous singers. Finally we get a unique Indi-Arab song. Yara Media has an office in all these countries, which made it easier to coordinate the complicated stages”
And the dancing?
“Training took a long time, because these are Indi-Arab songs.I had to translate the lyrics to the dance designer to produce a mix between Arab and Indian dance”
What about the script?
“The second season’s script was written by my brother, Usama al-Sharqi, who made it a comedy dealing with youth issues in a new style. He gave us amazing episodes.”
What were the main locations?
“Most of shooting was in Bollywood, but we also took shooting to some beautiful scenery for songs, in Haidarabad for example, because of its wonderful natural landscape. We had to take all the technicians and dancers from Bombay to Haidarabad, which was more than 250 people in total.We also shot in Dubai and Sharjah, to make a mix between the Arabic reality and the Indian dream”
Is it a challenge direct Arab stars and a foreign technical cadre?
“There is no doubt that dealing with artists from different countries, as well as a foreign technical team, is difficult. But we managed to produce a creative performance from both. The new locations in India urged the Arab actors and actresses to give us a new style of comedy that I am sure will be a big surprise for Arabic audiences.”