Homi Adajania Opens Up About His OTT Debut, 'Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo'
Homi Adajania Opens Up About His OTT Debut, ‘Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo’

Clever, morbid, and often weirdly funny, Homi Adajania’s limited filmography includes movies as diverse as Being Cyrus, Cocktail, and Angrezi Medium. But with his OTT debut, Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo, the edgy and clutter-breaking filmmaker seems to have gone back to his most comfortable space and chosen violence

The sprawling saga unfolds in Hastipur, a forgotten village in Rajasthan. The matriarch Savitri runs a drug cartel with her daughters-in-law, Bijli and Kajal, and her daughter, Shanta, while the men in the family are clueless about the goings on. The women form a sisterhood to take on the world. Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo is Homi Adajania’s very own gangsta take on the saas-bahu genre, where he replaces melodrama with ultraviolence.   


Although he has a 17-year-long career, his directorial credits include just five films, including a short. His last outing was Angrezi Medium, the last-shot film of the late Irrfan Khan that was released right before the implementation of the first Covid lockdown and the shuttering down of the cinemas. With Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo, the man of the macabre and the ‘wizard of the odd’ is back in the comfort of his brand of humor-laced violence. For Adajania, who made his debut as a director with the 2006 genre-bending, cult-classic, Being Cyrus, delving into the murky recesses of the human mind seems to come naturally. Both movies are set in remote houses cut off from the mainland and are peopled with eccentric characters. But while Being Cyrus, was disturbing with its portrayal of twisted minds, Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo stuns with its vivid visuals of blood and gore. Excerpts: 



Saas, Bahu Aur Flamingo is quite a turn on the idea of a Saas-Bahu series. You even use the iconic song in the trailer. It is interesting that earlier we were ushered into Anurag Kashyap’s world of gang war and violence in Gangs of Wasseypur with the same song. Is this a mere coincidence or a hat-tip to that landmark movie?  


No, not at all! It is just pure coincidence. We used it because it is such an iconic track and stood for a kind of genre that we intended to flip on its head.  This web series is about saas and bahus, and also, the daughter.  Savitri, played by Dimple, is the saas and she grooms the women for the business unbeknownst to the men in the family.  


How did Ekta Kapoor react to it and how did you convince her to let you use the song? 


I have no idea. You have to ask her that! Star had the copyright of the song. I think every creative person will appreciate the tongue-in-cheek humour behind it.  


You built a world with almost all the things that you see in a gangster movie. It is traditionally considered a ‘man’s world. But you populate it with a gang of feisty women. How exciting or challenging was that? 


It is just how open-minded you are and how you see the world. I’ve never seen the world through a lens of gender inequality, to begin with. So, I didn’t consider it as something different… until people started bringing it up that the women in the series are so strong and empowered. I was not looking to make something drastically different or make a point by creating these characters.  Also, I don’t really consume much content. I read a book rather than watch the TV or a movie. So, in that sense, I didn’t know how clutter-breaking it was till I started being told about it.  



While Being Cyrus was a twisted psychological drama, this is all about ultraviolence. It is visually disturbing while Being Cyrus would emotionally take you to a dark place. Which is your personal favourite?  


I find psychological darkness way darker than physical darkness. There is a lot of psychological darkness as you go through the series. It’s incredible how Savitri’s character is five steps ahead of everyone. Her master plan is something that no one can fully understand. And the way she navigates through it and the way she manipulates and uses the family, break them apart, puts them together, it is as if she is doing some massive human experiment in order to fulfill a much higher aim that she has. It’s all quite mad and twisted and convoluted. 


How exciting is it not to have a censor board breathing down your neck? Do you think as an artiste self-censoring is even an option? How much violence is too much violence according to you, especially when it comes to OTT content as it is accessible to audiences of all age groups? 


I feel it’s very important to give a certain kind of rating on the OTT so that kids are not watching the show. It’s not conducive for children to watch. Also, certain sections of the audience might not want to watch certain kinds of content. So, you need to definitely inform them on what the content is about, and what exists within the content, and let them make their choices.  


Also, as filmmakers, I feel that we do have a responsibility not to just go haywire and abuse the freedom the medium is giving us. You don’t just chuck in stuff for shock value or overexpose or get into that space just because there are no restrictions. That’s stupid. You do it in an aesthetic way; you do it when it is necessary for the narrative to show maybe the brutality of a character, or to show the unpredictability of a character. But you definitely need to respect that freedom. I feel, somewhere along the way, if it gets out of hand, then this freedom will be taken away from us, which should not happen. 



This is your web-series debut. What are the challenges for this kind of long-format storytelling? 


I loved the whole experience. Going in, I had no clue how I’d handle it. But it was an absolute joy. It was too much fun. The format gives you the luxury — something you don’t get in feature films — of living the story. Also, you can reference and recall certain improvised scenes in a different episode. The format allows a certain kind of sophistication in the narrative, which you can’t include, at least I haven’t been able to include, in feature-length movies.  


You have done movies like Being Cyrus and Finding Fanny. How do you see OTTs opening up the space for unconventional filmmakers and storytellers like you? 


Absolutely. OTT is a blessing for people like me. It allows you to explore storytelling with more purity. You don’t have the pressure of a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. I understand where a producer will say, nahi, yeh gaana to daalna hi padega, or we have to do this promo thing for publicity, and you have to stuff things in the narrative that you would otherwise not do. Also, it is an actor’s medium so you are not going crazy that you must have big names to headline the project. You can instead have a more honest and pure casting where you take the actors who suit the characters the best. 


It’s been 17 years since Being Cyrus 


Is it? Shit, you are making me feel damn old yaar  (chuckles). 



How do you see yourself evolving as a filmmaker? Also, just five directorials in all these years. 


I feel, now you’ll see much more of this and much more of me.  I wasn’t making films that frequently purely because I was doing a lot of other stuff in my life. And I always felt that as I grow older and when it’s time to retire, I will start making movies. That is exactly what I am doing now. I’ve just wrapped up a feature film, Murder Mubarak, and have produced a film on Siachen; both should be out this year. And then, let’s see where we go from there. 

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