You have just completed a dazzling episode of a series on Shakespeare for the TNT channel. How was the experience?
It’s called Will. I am producing the entire series. It’s a 75-million dollar show. We’ve to create 9 more episodes of Series 1. If it’s successful, it goes to Series 2.
You directed all the episodes?
It’s not possible for one director to do the entire show. But, I’ll definitely be directing some of the episodes. Since I am the producing-director, I’ve to make sure that the entire series has the same qualities that you saw in the pilot which I directed. So, I’ll definitely get in there and direct some episodes. We start shooting on 1st September and on 1st January 2017, it starts telecast all over the world.
I hope it comes to India?
Of course, it will.
The young actor Laurie Davidson, who plays Shakespeare, is an amazing talent…
You know where I found him? In acting school! I must tell you the search for Shakespeare was no less arduous than my search for Elizabeth.
How different was it shooting for television?
Well, I am a feature-film director. But, luckily for me, as you saw in the trailer, everything had to be done on the scale of a feature film. But, television doesn’t have the same budget as a feature film. So, I found means to get the same scale into the medium. I promise you when you see the series, you won’t think it inferior to a feature film. Will looks like a 100-million dollar film. The pilot alone was shot in eighteen days.
You have an amazing team with you on this project?
Yes. One day, we were sitting down together and I realized we had 18 Oscar winners with us. And, everybody was firing all cylinders. That’s how it was possible to shoot a one-hour pilot-episode of television that looks like a feature film. I had the best skills in the world and we prepped for four months. I can’t do the same in India.
When I mention a huge scale here, everybody starts talking about the huge number of shooting days.
You’ve taken the ultimate colonial revenge. Attenborough came to India and made Gandhi. You went to Britain and made Shakespeare?
I did that earlier with Elizabeth. If you talk to filmmakers in the UK and the US, they will tell you, ‘Shekhar is at it again. He has reinvented British history.’
Aditya Chopra is a very, very successful filmmaker. He wants to stay within his zone of success, whereas, I am a bit of an adventurer. He is a much more practical person than me. Everything that I’ve succeeded in doing in my career has come from not being practical. Everyone in Bollywood is playing money games…200 crore kiya, 300 crore kiya.. It’s all about numbers. I am still very hopeful, I will make Paani. If not with Aditya Chopra, then, someone else.