'An OTT release is the best thing that could have happened to Cargo'
...says director Arati Kadav, as she and actors Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi discuss breaking new ground with their recent Netflix film, Cargo
It is an interesting time for sci-fi fans in India. After years of looking westward for their regular dose of this genre, they are finally getting regular homegrown content, thanks to the lockdown. Arati Kadav's sci-fi film, Cargo, which released recently on Netflix, got quite a bit of attention for its wacky premise. Given that the sci-fi genre is still in its nascent stages here, you understand why Cargo has quite a few familiar Indian mythology elements in the narrative. "From childhood, I have been attracted to Indian folklore. Every generation tells future generations about its folklores, and I always wondered what urban folklore we were telling. That's how these layers got added to the world I built for Cargo," says techie-turned-filmmaker, Arati.
The world of Cargo is new to the Indian milieu and might have stumped actors Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi. The actors credit Arati for "her knowledge and proper homework" that they say helped them familiarise themselves with this world. "The emotions are going to be same irrespective of the location, and once an actor can figure out the pulse, then it becomes easier," says Shweta, emphasising the importance of feeding off the writer and director's energy to deliver the best possible output for a script. Agreeing, Vikrant says, "When we were young, the only abstract land I saw was in Amar Chitra Katha fables. When there is clarity in the script and the director, half our job in imagining the new world gets sorted."
The mutual admiration continues with Arati interjecting to say that her vision of Cargo was fulfilled by the conviction of her actors. "To make a film believable, it is important that the actors have a nuanced understanding of the subject. Both Vikrant and Shweta understand layers. They had to surrender to a world where 50 per cent of the shooting involves a green screen. Their sincerity makes everything more believable," says Arati.
This film, involving a carefully-constructed world, has been released on a digital platform, and so, I ask if this was a dampener. "It is a match made in heaven, in fact. For the film we have made, and the kind of audience we want to reach, Netflix is a godsend," says Vikrant. The same emotion is reflected in the sprightly responses from both Arati and Shweta. "We are going through a pandemic. It is a responsible thing to release on OTT, and the content on Netflix is all about quality," says Arati, going on to add how it is a matter of great pride that Cargo is included in the sci-fi pool of Netflix that includes content like Dark and Stranger Things. "Also, Cargo has enjoyed a good festival run outside India. Shweta and Vikrant have won awards at the Miami sci-fi film festival, for instance. We are reaching every corner of the world and it is the best thing that could have happened to a film like Cargo," explains Arati.
Vikrant and Shweta are actors who have benefitted from the reach secured from digital platforms, and can be thought of as those who had the advantage of being prime movers in this space. "See, this is a maidaan, and more the competition, better the content. Why shouldn't everybody get a chance?" asks Shweta, quickly adding with a smile, "As long as we are in the kind of projects we want to do, and are paid the kind of money we are happy with, anything is okay." The Masaan actor feels there is no need for any actors already present in the fold or the ones entering it now to feel insecure about their place. "India is a country with enough stories to tell, and the audience is waiting for good content. Everyone should get work. Everyone should get money, and we should all share the love," says Shweta, and Vikrant, who feels the same, signs off saying, "There's enough space under the sky for everyone to shine."