EXCLUSIVE interview of Manoj Bajpayee, Konkona Sensharma, Abhishek Chaubey for Netflix’s ‘Killer Soup’

Manoj Bajpayee and Konkona Sensharma have a collective experience of over five decades in Indian cinema, and yet, it took them the year 2024 to collaborate with each other for the first time. The dynamic duo is coming together for Abhishek Chaubey’s web series called Killer Soup that streams on Netflix from January 11. There’s a lot in the title itself, both the first word and the last one.

Going by the trailer, it’s both about the aspirations of a housewife to open a restaurant and a whodunit about twisted characters and infidelity, and yes, murder too. In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, Bajpayee, Sharma, and Chaubey talk about the atmospheric world they have created and crafted, the year that 2023 was for each of them, and much more.

Edited excerpts from the interview

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Abhishek, what does it take to create that blend of humor and darkness, something you’ve mastered?

Thank you for saying that. As far as directing is concerned, writing itself becomes a preparation. I don’t think it is up for debate, but writing is actually the most important aspect of filmmaking. And while you’re writing, you’re trying to understand what the story is, what the world is, and therein you find the tone. This blends various moods but after a point, you’re not really engaged in that, your thinking becomes about the tone and you follow there story where it’s taking you. When you work on a script for two years, that becomes your preparation to direct because you understand the framework and boundaries.

Konkona, since you’re a director as well, what does it take to create that one killer content?

I’m never looking at it like that because that’s a lot of pressure. As an actor, I’m only trying to gravitate towards the stories, the creators whom I admire, whom I feel an affinity with. While I’m writing, since I’m hardly directing much, then also there’s some initial key points of inspiration, which is mostly a feeling I want to share.

Manoj, why didn’t we see the pair of Manoj Bajpayee and Konkona Sensharma before?

I wasn’t in the position to decide but I always wanted to work with her. Nobody could come with that kind of an offer, it was Abhishek, who could think of casting us together, and that too in a series like Killer Soup that gives so much space, for that much duration, to work with each other. So I would like to thank him.

Abhishek, you have worked with Manoj Bajpayee on Sonchiriya, with Konkona on A Death In The Gunj, and Sayaji Shinde and Manoj are coming together after the classic Shool. Is this a reunion of sorts?

When I mentioned to Manoj about thinking of talking Sayaji, he jumped and clapped, because he was really excited because these two go such a long way; and it was great fun to cast them as brothers. I did not have to work really hard to establish a bond, it was right there.

Konkona, what does it take to play characters that are driven by aspirations and in this case, a tinge of evilness?

Possibly when you’re writing dreams, it’s to motivate your characters because you want them to do something because that determines the plot, it becomes the plot. In Swati’s case, I don’t think she was evil, she was steadfast. She wanted to open a restaurant in episode one and she opened a restaurant in episode eight. And a lot of things happened in between and I could relate somehow.

Manoj, 2023 was a great year for you, from Gulmohar to Bandaa to Joram to shooting for Killer Soup; how did you jump from one world and character to another?

I didn’t jump since there was enough time in between. All these films were planned much before so I was reading the scripts for a very long time. The process becomes a little more intense when it is for only 20 or 25 days. But I feel happy when I get films of such caliber and it’s high time that I don’t complain.

Abhishek, do you feel OTT as a platform allows the viewers to talk about content and not just commerce, which usually happens in case of theatrical releases?

I don’t think Content comes first even on OTT, commercial interests have superseded every other aspect of our lives, not just films. But the overwhelming discourse about opening numbers is not there on streaming, which is fantastic. What is also happening on streaming is that there is a lot of alternative content, and which are not making to the theatres. There are a lot of wonderful films that are heading directly to OTT from festivals, they are not making it to the theatres; but I feel that’s not nice.

Manoj and Konkona, how do you look back at the year 2023 in terms of content?

Konkona: There have been some wonderful shows, I’ve really enjoyed Kohrra particularly, and Trial By Fire. I have been noting down many other names because I watch everything five years later.

Manoj: Kaala Paani was a show I loved, and there are many things that I saw on Amazon I liked. I enjoyed watching some films by the Shetty brothers.

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