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Mayank Sharma interview Amazon Stories

‘Once you have piqued their interest, you get a devout, binge watching audience’

In a candid Q&A, director of Breathe, Mayank Sharma tells Amazon Stories why the digital medium interested him, how he roped in stars for this series, taking forward the cause of organ donation and lots more. Read on to know more about how Breathe was born.

Why did you choose this medium (in this case Prime Video) to release Breathe? Is it more creative control, a niche but loyal audience or just the newness of the medium here in India? If you have any other reasons please do share.

I would say Breathe chose its medium… I am a firm believer that stories justifies the medium and once breathe was conceptualized and we started writing the screenplay, we realized that this story & journey of the characters needs to be told to the audience through a long story telling format…I would have not justified the story in a run time of 2 hours.

The digital medium demands very strong content without which the audience will not come back for the next episode. It is very easy to lose your audience but once you have piqued their interest and earned their loyalty, you get an extremely devout, binge watching audience.

This medium definitely gives you the independence to think radical and not restrict yourself…specially with no pressure of running time on screen or box office collection on a weekend….it allows you to go deep inside the story, to go deep inside the minds of the characters…allows you to explore the narrative from different point of views.

But all this happens as long as you have a compelling story to tell.

Amazon Stories: Interview with Breathe director Mayank Sharma

"The digital medium definitely gives you the independence to think radical and not restrict yourself…specially with no pressure of running time on screen or box office collection on a weekend….it allows you to go deep inside the story, to go deep inside the minds of the characters…allows you to explore the narrative from different point of views."

First the cinema halls were as close as people could get with stars, now it’s even closer – laptops, phones, or streaming in living rooms – Is this level of “digital immersion” is it here to stay and will it make audiences to fall in love with scripts once again? Will content be king again?

Content has always been king…good content will always get an audience, be it on any medium….the catch is to be aware of that which script is suitable for which medium . Some scripts can be made only as feature films, some as soaps and some as finite series. The whole immersive experience that this medium offers is definitely one of its USP. The proximity levels between the story and audience are far less. This ensures makers to create stories, characters which are compelling…on this medium the audience will be purely hooked to your show on basis of the narrative of the story & characters.

With regard to scripts – as opposed to silver screen – this form of filmmaking gives you a variety of formats in which you can tell your story and also experiment. What experimentation have you done in Breathe, if any?

Yes the treatment which we have given to Breathe is surely a bit different & experimental.
Since the story idea itself is quite unique and you don’t get to hear or see something like this in your real life…my biggest challenge was to make it real and believable… it started from scripting to execution….the power of this medium is that if it is told well then it can reach to a very large audience all over the world…the story of breathe has the potential to connect well with the global audience - for which we were very sure that the performances of the actors had to be very real, locations and production design, background music ,sound design, all were executed in a way that they suck you in the world of Danny and Kabir and doesn’t let you get disconnected at any moment.

Amazon Stories: Interview with Breathe director Mayank Sharma

"Yes I always wanted to create a psychological thriller backed with a great emotional reason, an emotional connect….organ donation is a very integral part of the story and was always there as part of the script."

At the face of it, the topic of this TV series is based on organ donation, but adding an element of crime and emotion of a parent – it’s become a psych thriller of sorts. Was it always meant to be like this? Or did you make any changes to the script?

Yes I always wanted to create a psychological thriller backed with a great emotional reason, an emotional connect….organ donation is a very integral part of the story and was always there as part of the script.

Disparity of organ donors and recipients is a hard fact which exists not only in India but in many other countries too…for me that’s the beauty of the script where by the end of the series along with the thrill and great cliffhanger moments you realize the importance of this cause and reason.

Finally, you have a superb array of stars in your film – how tough/easy was it to convince them to be part of Breathe.

I would say that it was not tough to convince them to be part of breathe…Madhavan and Amit Sadh said yes to breathe immediately after the 1st narration and I am grateful to everyone from the cast for believing in me and the script.

Along with me, Abundantia Entertainment (Vikram Malhotra) too believed that this story should be told in a long story format. They had their belief in this medium and once they liked the script, they totally owned it and we all together embarked on this amazing journey.