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Danish Aslam Says There Should Be No Censorship Regardless of Medium: ‘Choice Must Belong to Audience’

Filmmaker Danish Aslam’s Aslam’s recent web show The Reunion: Chal Chalein Apne Ghar was released on the YouTube Channel of Zoom Studios. The show tells the story of a dysfunctional family coming back under one roof. Talking about the new show Aslam says, “The idea was presented to me by Zoom and Shiny Shetty (writer). I really loved the idea and worked on it. Shiny and I developed the screenplay and dialogues.”

Featuring Lillete Dubey, Kashmira Irani, Prabal Panjabi, KK Raina among others, Aslam feels that the definition of a family has changed in recent years, “A Dysfunctional family is the new normal. The emotional dynamics between parents and their children have changed drastically due to jobs and other factors. These things exist in reality and for me, as a filmmaker that is the exciting part. Dysfunctional families and dysfunctional relationships are something that I particularly enjoy a lot. It’s something I’ve explored in a couple of my previous shows as well.”

The show was shot in an unconventional location of Odisha which according to the filmmaker was also a blessing in disguise, “It was tough to shoot as we had to follow all the necessary protocols due to the ongoing pandemic. We had a start to finish schedule in Odisha. We also got lucky that the cases in Odisha were low, unlike Mumbai where everything was locked up. We shot in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, and Puri. We also shot in a house at Dalijoda in the middle of nowhere. Once we created that bubble everything was sorted.”

Aslam made his first web series ‘It’s Not That Simple’ with Swara Bhasker in 2016 when the concept of OTT was still at a nascent stage. Since then he has successfully made a web series like Flesh and more recently his short film was part of the anthology Feels Like Ishq which received a lot of appreciation. The director feels that streaming platforms have given opportunities to many new talents, “One of the biggest positives to come out of OTT as a medium is that actors are now recognised for their talent and not just this ephemeral thing called star power. The streaming platform has allowed a lot of writers, directors, and filmmakers to tell the stories in a particular way. It is no longer about superstars or box office collections. If you have a good story people will appreciate that.”

As a director, Aslam made his debut in 2010 with Break Ke Baad featuring Imran Khan and Deepika Padukone. Since then he has dabbled with all mediums including televisions and web series. “Personally I have grown a lot. Professionally, it has been a great learning experience,” he says adding, “I like the fact that I can now tell stories in different mediums. I can tell stories in 90 minutes or make it into a full-length feature film. And I can also tell stories in an episodic format. I didn’t use to write when I started my first movie, I just had the outline and the rest was done by Renuka Kunzru. With this series, I’ve worked on the story. I co-wrote the screenplay, and I co-wrote the dialogue as well. So I think that’s another evolution that happened.”

In the last few months, one of the debates that has picked up in the industry is whether OTT platforms should be subjected to censorship. Aslam says he is against the idea of censorship and feels that the audience is mature enough to select what they want to watch, “If you don’t want to see something because it offends you, please don’t watch it. I am totally against the idea of censorship. I believe there should be no censorship regardless of the medium. Films and series can be age certified and classified but a free and democratic country should let its adult citizens decide what they would like to watch or not watch in a theatre, or on their phones and computers. The choice must belong to the audience.”​

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