Danish Aslam with Deepika Padukone
Danish Aslma InterviewInstagram

Director Danish Aslam, who made his Bollywood debut with Deepika Padukone-Imran Khan starrer Break Ke Baad, is back with an original web-series exclusive on Voot.  The series features Taher Raj Bhasin as Rahul, best known for his antagonist role in Mardaani, and Sarah Jane Dias, a Former Femina Miss India 2007, as Radha.

International Business Times, India spoke to Danish about his upcoming venture and Deepika Padukone's growth in the recent years.

What made you think of a web-series?

Well, I'd already done a web series with Voot last year (It's Not That Simple), so the medium wasn't new to me. The story lent itself to serialised telling, and the advantages that the digital medium offers in terms of lack of censorship & more latitude in content make it a no-brainer.

What was your thought behind this series?

There's a tendency in India to treat issues related to the mind as less weighty when compared to "real" problems. If you're fairly comfortable financially & have someone in your life who isn't actively trying to kill you then you shouldn't be complaining. Wanting to hit pause on your life to re-evaluate your decisions or figure out whether these were the decisions that you wanted to take in the first place is a first-world problem. But I think that an increasing number of people are dealing with issues that we may be conditioned to disregard as not worth discussing. And that's something that I think needs to change. Hence this story about a man who has a life that, by these standards, he should be happy with but he isn't.

Why Tahir and Sarah? Did you have any other preference for their characters?

Like I said, the digital medium gives you the latitude to do things that even movies don't, one of which is casting people purely on the basis of how suited they are to the role. In this case, they both just fit the characters I had in my head to a T. With Tahir, there was also the added benefit of casting against type, since he'd mainly been recognised for his negative roles till then. That's always fun to play around with.

And no, i didn't consider anyone else for his role. For Sarah's character, we auditioned a couple of people but she was simply too good in her test for me to consider looking further.

How was it shooting with Tahir and Sarah? -- did they give you tough time at all?

I think the vibe of a shooting set translates directly onto screen. If you have a blast while shooting, it shows in the product. And this entire cast & crew, Tahir & Sarah included, was (young and b) certifiably insane. Which made the long night shifts a lot more fun than I thought they'd be and, hopefully, that energy has translated on screen as well.

#TimeOut - the official poster. Streaming on November 28th. Only on @voot! #HitPause

A post shared by Danish Aslam (@dontpanic79) on

Where do you think our culture is headed when it comes to marriage?

I'd say that the concept of marriage as this infallible institution is a crumbling edifice. People are getting married - and getting out of marriages - at increasingly varied times. It's not so sacrosanct anymore, which is great. Because I would rather be in a honest, non-socially-sanctioned relationship than live a lie because it's what you're supposed to do.

You made your debut movie with Deepika Padukone and now you see her doing Padmavati, do you see any difference in her as an actress?

The mark of a truly great actor is the way they evolve through the years. I'd say that I worked with Deepika when she was establishing herself as a serious performer (post- Love Aaj Kal, pre-Cocktail) and I'd like to think that her performance in Break Ke Baad was one of the noticeable ones (for those that noticed it). Having said that, she has only improved, and in leaps and bounds.

Break ke baad
Deepika Padukone and Imran KhanInstagram

When do you plan to direct your next film?

As soon as I can get someone to produce it! I have been involved in 3 projects over the last few years - 1 with UTV & 2 with Balaji and in the case of the latter, we had started prep as well but unfortunately, they all got canned due to a variety of reasons. I've signed one more now; here's hoping it pans out!

Talking about the concept of the series, a film starring Kalki called Ribbon was also based on the same subject. Do you think people will make comparisons?

I haven't seen Ribbon, but based on the trailer it seems like a movie specifically about pregnancy & its impact on a marriage, the woman's workplace, etc. Time Out is about a relationship where everything has gone according to plan, until one of them realises that the plan wasn't his, this is not the life he wanted and then proceeds to have an early mid-life crisis. Having a child is one of the aspects of that crisis. There are several others, like his relationship with his dad, his job, their financial condition, etc.

Do you think this subject will be accepted by the audience?

I don't think there's any subject, if told well enough, that an audience will not accept. Audiences have accepted subjects as diverse as 'Angamalay Diaries' (one of my favourite movies of last year) & 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' (which i can proudly say was made by one of my best friends). And they were asked the same question multiple times before making these movies, I'm sure. So, so much for that!

Quick Rapid Fire --

One thing you like and dislike about Tahir?

Tahir has a deliciously wicked sense of humour. Which is not for everyone & very politically incorrect at times, but is fairly similar to mine. So that's the like. Dislike: hmmm, "nothing comes to mind right now" would be a copout, so I'll go with his appetite for coffee, which i had to personally feed on set every day.

One thing annoying about Sarah and one thing you love about her?

Sarah is a director's actor. Which is great when you're a director She's also amazingly hardworking & puts in the homework. Dislikes: the constant vacationing in her life, coupled with Instagram posts (one of which happened in the middle of the shoot) showing the rest of us how life in Madh Island is not quite the same as life in Koh Sa Mui.