Bonded by Maaya

The Asian Age.  | subhash k jha

Entertainment, Bollywood

It’s not as much about BDSM as it’s about the Internet and the anonymity it gives you.

Shama Sikandar in a still from Maaya

Vikram Bhatt is known to give in to the darker side of things and experiment with his content. Currently working on his web series called Maaya, Vikram talks about testing the waters with BDSM and looking towards making the topic a series instead of a movie.

What prompted you to do a series on BDSM?
I was writing a book on this at first. I wrote a couple of chapters as well, but then I realised that it needed a visual medium. It’s not as much about BDSM as it’s about the Internet and the anonymity it gives you. You give yourself a username, and suddenly you’re free of being yourself. You can be who you want and in that you end up becoming more yourself than you ever were. Maaya is about that irony. To be your true self you need to be anonymous.

Do you think sexually deviant behaviour is now an integral part of our social structure?
I don’t really have an answer to that. I know that the millenials have made it more acceptable, but there will always be ones who will judge. I believe that whatever is safe, sane and consensual between two adults in the privacy of their bedrooms is not deviant.

Why did you do a web series on it and not a feature film?
There are many reasons for that. Firstly, Maaya works best in Hinglish. It cannot be tailor-made to any one particular kind of audience like films tend to do now — I mean the single and multiplex division. Also, we would never have gotten past the censors and that’s alright since Maaya is more a private watch than a collective movie-going experience. I also believe that in groups, people are pretentious. In private, they watch everything that appeals to their primordial sense. Once again, it’s a case of all of us being two people.

Is Maaya inspired by 50 Shades of Grey?
No, it’s not. Unfortunately, anything BDSM is considered to be that. I see no point in fighting that perception. It’s like saying Dangal is Sultan, because they’re both about wrestling.

Why did you select Shama Sikandar to play the lead?
I needed someone who was more than willing to surrender to the script and was willing to understand the realm that is BDSM; it’s complex. It’s not just about tying and whipping. It’s about surrender and control. She understood what I was saying. To be someone who had kept her desires to herself, who felt judged, and had a nervous breakdown. It was all tough going, and she did it marvellously.

Have you succeeded in being as sexually candid as you wanted to?
Yes, absolutely.

Who is your target audience for Maaya?
There are two kinds of people who will watch Maaya. One kind that is ready to enjoy a different type of entertainment, and the other that is waiting to ridicule it. Either way, it’s a big piece of the pie.