Mumbai-based Gemplex to launch new Malayalam series
Titled Shepherds from Hell, the mystery thriller is an eight-episode series which was shot mostly in Ernakulam
The web series game in Malayalam may not be as strong as that in Hindi or Tamil, but a few filmmakers are taking the effort to correct that.
Following the recent streaming release of Manorama Max’s Menaka, and Mridul Nair’s Instagraamam already in the pipeline, a newbie filmmaker Aseef Ameen is coming out with an eight-episode series titled Shepherds from Hell.
Starring Vivek Anirudh, Devaki Rajendran (Sleeplessly Yours), Gilu Joseph (Ranam), Arjun Sashi, Jeevan Jos and others, Shepherds from Hell is backed by Mumbai-based producers Prakash Tiwari and Rohan Tiwari. It is set to be launched on their digital platform Gemplex, which currently streams Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi, and Persian-language content. The platform was launched towards the end of last year. On collaborating with the company, Aseef reveals that it was a short film of his that put him on their radar.
The post-production of the series has been completed and the final cut-related processes were going on when the lockdown happened. These will resume once the studio is opened.
Shepherds from Hell is a thriller with cybercrime being the central narrative device. A mysterious hacker holds Ernakulam city hostage by broadcasting a visual of a kidnapped child. In exchange for the child’s release, the individual demands the death of two people — a doctor and a school principal — in 18 hours.
“It’s essentially about questioning the morality of the public by turning every single person into a potential criminal. Of course, there is also the question of why these two particular people were singled out,” says Aseef, who is a fan of director David Fincher. “I’ve used Fincher's films as a reference for building tension and staging certain sequences.”
The overall duration of the series, he says, more or less equals that of a feature film. Each episode is 22 minutes long.
Aseef, who co-wrote the series with Sameep Sudhakaran, adds that writing every episode was extremely challenging because, unlike in a film, every episode relied on a cliffhanger.
“Writing a series takes twice the effort,” he says. “The process is completely different because it’s not the same as the film screenplay format. While the latter has an interval hook, a series episode has to end on a note that gets the viewer looking forward to the next episode, which is tricky.”
Shepherds from Hell was mostly shot in Ernakulam, with Thrissur and Mumbai as additional locations. Anand P Mohandas served as the cinematographer while Yadhu Sreeni handled the editing and VFX duties.
Singer Sharanya Gopinath, who was part of the Tamil hit Kaithi, worked on the lyrics and songs. Vysakh Bejoy is behind the music and background score.