‘The Test Case’ speaks about gender equality in a very mature way ~ Vinay Waikul
In a day and age where people are talking about gender equality, a web series like ‘The Test Case’ which traces the journey of the first woman officer to be inducted into the combat is widely appreciated. The series is now streaming on the digital platform ALTBalaji. With this series, Vinay Waikul makes his directorial debut. Vinay Waikul’s started as an Asst. Director in the film Swades, he later worked as a Chief Asst. Director for the movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. He has also worked on various projects with Aamir Khan, some of which include Dangal and Satyamev Jayate.
The Test Case has drawn a lot of attention and one of the reasons for this is the impressive cast. The lead character Captain Shikha Sharma is portrayed by Nimrat Kaur. The cast also includes names like Juhi Chawla, Akshay Oberoi, Atul Kulkarni, Rahul Dev, Samir Kochhar and many more. As the web series streams on ALTBalaji, we had a quick interaction with the director Vinay Waikul, who shared some insights on the making of the series. He spoke about his experience as a first-time director, the challenges and working with a huge cast, among other things.
This is your first directorial venture, so why go for a digital platform?
It wasn’t really a conscious choice, we spoke about it being part of a feature or digital platform, so I just went ahead with what came in my way. Also, what is happening in today’s day and age is that with web series, much more can be explored. There are different kinds of stories which we won’t be able to make in a feature film format because of certain budgetary imposition on you. There are certain things producers what to do or don’t want to do, things like these can restrict a movie. But in a web series format, you can take those chances, you can be creative, you can be adventurous, you can try different things and that is an exciting scenario. The digital platform is becoming as big as films, I don’t think there will any difference in the coming days between the two.
What about the script convinced you to be part of ‘The Test Case’ series?
It is based on army and everybody has a special respect for the army and that was part of the attraction. The series speaks about gender equality more than anything so, that was a point that hugely appealed to me. ‘The Test Case’ speaks about gender equality in a very mature way. Gender equality is not just about feminism, it is about women and the fact that they have an equal right to do and choose everything that men can, it is as simple as that. It is how the protagonist says that you don’t need to protect her. Protecting is a very tricky term because protecting someone can be your job, but you can’t put restrictions on someone. I think this is a very exciting concept to explore.
As opposed to feature-length films, while working on the digital format were there aspects that you had to be careful about?
You think a little differently because you are not restricted by the length when you are working on the web series, but apart from that the other dynamics and aspects of making something visual are actually similar to a feature film. Here, the only advantage is that you are not restricted by length. You can invest in more than one character and put in the time to develop the characters. In films, there is little chance of exploring other characters.
The series has an impressive cast, were you looking for anything specific?
Most of the cast wasn’t chosen by me it was first being directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, so most of it was chosen by him and Ekta Kapoor. I came from the second episode, but I am really happy with the cast. All of them are fabulous actors. When I got to know about the exciting script and the cast, I was sold.
As a first-time director, what kind of challenges did you have to encounter?
I wouldn’t call it challenging, but I would call it the normal part and parcel of the job. For a first-time director obviously, there were doubts and difficulties while working with such seasoned actors, but everybody was great. They made me feel very nice and not like a first-time director. They were ready to do whatever was needed and whatever I said was needed. That itself is great, it is an ensemble cast. There were of course challenges, but we pulled it off.
With various gender equality movement going on around the world, the series has come out at a relevant time?
Of course, it is a relevant time but again this is a timeless subject. Anytime would be relevant for this kind story. I am happy that it is coming out now and I got a chance to be a part of it. This is a kind of series that can be discussed for a long time.
You have worked with some of the most renowned personalities in the Hindi film industry, how has that experience helped you in your first directorial venture?
When you are working with directors who are passionate and true to their craft then sub-consciously you start to take in those qualities. When the schooling is correct, you start following the correct way of working and that teaching is hopefully being seen in your work. One of the things that I admire is that all of these directors, while making their film, they give their best and there are no agendas. When you are directing the film and your focus is correct everything else falls into place. Your personality comes into your work and that is what stands out hopefully. That I really learnt from the people I worked with and that there is no subsite for hard work.