Interactivity helps break the fourth wall, engage viewers: Actor Sushant Singh

True Stories of Women Criminals from India” with Kulpreet Yadav, decodes more crime cases in bite-sized episodes on the platform while playing an interesting character with a dark past.
Sushant Singh

New Delhi, May 22 : Television actor and presenter Sushant Singh is popularly known for hosting a Hindi crime show based on real crimes. He now features in an interactive crime thriller titled ‘Kaun? Who Did It?’, and believes that audience interactivity in any show can be challenging, but it helps breaks the fourth wall and engage the audience, as is said in theatre.

Earlier this year, award-winning producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment partnered with Flipkart Video to develop a one-of-a-kind, interactive crime-thriller series — ‘Kaun? Who Did it?’. The innovative show hinged on India’s love for crime fiction and introduced viewers to the world of crime and suspense, while also allowing them to play detective and win exciting prizes. After a successful first season that left audiences at the edge of their seats with a nail-biting cliffhanger, the series is set to return with season 2, featuring Singh as retired detective Adi Bhagat and film and theatre actress Samvedna Suwalka as his protege, Assistant police inspector Malini Bidre.

Singh, who has also co-authored the book “Queens of Crime: True Stories of Women Criminals from India” with Kulpreet Yadav, decodes more crime cases in bite-sized episodes on the platform while playing an interesting character with a dark past.

The show is now in its second season and will be live on the Flipkart App starting May 22. There are a lot of unexpected twists in store for the viewer, that are sure to keep everyone on the edge of their seats, says Sushant Singh as he speaks to IANSlife about the show and more:

Q: You have worked with crime fiction before, but this is an interactive series. What do you like about it?

A: What I like about it is the interactive part is you get to break the fourth wall, which we say in theatre is the audience. You have to break the fourth wall and speak to the audience without making it obvious. Interactivity is also the challenging part of the show. The cases have to be difficult, but they can’t be so difficult that nobody can crack. You have to keep giving hints so they solve the crime along with Adi and Malini (the show’s characters). At times you have to be very aware that it shouldn’t be like spoon-feeding or too easy. The story and cases have to be fool-proof and yet we have to give enough hints. It is a different genre to crack. But the show is a first of its kind in Hindi. You have to keep the ‘how’ behind the crime interesting as well after revealing the ‘who’.

Q: How do you think the crime fiction genre has changed over the decades?

A: Crime fiction is one of the oldest genres. It has always engaged and fascinated people in different genres like novels, novellas, games, TV shows, movies. It keeps evolving because society keeps evolving, technology keeps coming in. Criminals are always one step ahead of the detectives or police. Usually police has to keep up with the changing times because criminals adapt quicker. The basic format remains the same. It’s a whodunit, whether you go back to Agatha Christie or to Sherlock Holmes.

The other thing is: for a crime fiction story to succeed, the reader/viewer should feel as if she or he is the detective herself or himself. With every clue unravelled in the story, the viewer should go: ‘Oh, I thought so!’ That’s what keeps one hooked.

Q: Three things the audience can’t miss in ‘Kaun’ season two?

Singh: One, the first episode which shows the backstory. Two, a new kind of chemistry between Aadi and Malini. Third, at the end of the season, we again delve into Aadi’s backstory which has by now become a great hook-point for the viewed.

Q: How was your experience working for Guneet Monga ?

A: The experience was as good as it was in Season 1. Guneet is a very easy producer. Once she trusts a team with the work, she stops interfering, unless something is going very very wrong. Of course, there were hiccups because of the pandemic and the lockdowns. Still waiting for lockdowns to be lifted, since there is still some shooting left.

What has kept you busy during the lockdown? What are the projects you are working onMy lockdown has mostly been at home like everyone else. When the lockdown lifts, we
esume with our shoots. There’s second season of ‘Kaun’, then there’s third season of ‘Four More Shots Please’, ‘Good Luck Jerry’ and more.

Q: How has your journey been from movies to TV to now streaming platforms? What do you prefer the most as a medium?

A: What I like about it is the interactive part is you get to break the fourth wall, which we say in theatre is the audience. You have to break the fourth wall and speak to the audience without making it obvious. Interactivity is also the challenging part of the show. The cases have to be difficult, but they can’t be so difficult that nobody can crack. You have to keep giving hints so they solve the crime along with Adi and Malini (the show’s characters). At times you have to be very aware that it shouldn’t be like spoon-feeding or too easy. The story and cases have to be fool-proof and yet we have to give enough hints. It is a different genre to crack. But the show is a first of its kind in Hindi. You have to keep the ‘how’ behind the crime interesting as well after revealing the ‘who’.

How do you think the crime fiction genre has changed over the decades?

Singh: Crime fiction is one of the oldest genres. It has always engaged and fascinated people in different genres like novels, novellas, games, TV shows, movies. It keeps evolving because society keeps evolving, technology keeps coming in. Criminals are always one step ahead of the detectives or police. Usually police has to keep up with the changing times because criminals adapt quicker. The basic format remains the same. It’s a whodunit, whether you go back to Agatha Christie or to Sherlock Holmes.

The other thing is: for a crime fiction story to succeed, the reader/viewer should feel as if she or he is the detective herself or himself. With every clue unravelled in the story, the viewer should go: ‘Oh, I thought so!’ That’s what keep one hooked.

Three things the audience can’t miss in ‘Kaun’ season two?

Singh: One, the first episode which shows the backstory. Two, a new kind of chemistry between Aadi and Malini. Third, at the end of the season, we again delve into Aadi’s backstory which has by now become a great hook-point for the viewed.

How was your experience working for Guneet Monga?

Singh: The experience was as good as it was in Season 1. Guneet is a very easy producer. Once she trusts a team with the work, she stops interfering, unless something is going very very wrong. Of course, there were hiccups because of the pandemic and the lockdowns. Still waiting for lockdowns to be lifted, since there is still some shooting left.

What has kept you busy during the lockdown? What are the projects you are working on?

Singh: My lockdown has mostly been at home like everyone else. When the lockdown lifts, we resume with our shoots. There’s second season of ‘Kaun’, then there’s third season of ‘Four More Shots Please’, ‘Good Luck Jerry’ and more.

How has your journey been from movies to TV to now streaming platforms? What do you prefer the most as a medium?

Singh: Frankly, I used to prefer movies. Television is okay but now my favourites are the OTT platforms. In a web series, there’s so much time and space that every character can be developed beautifully. There are layers to the story, there are subplots. I think the creative people enjoy the OTT and web medium the most. I’ve done quite a few myself. As an actor, this is the best phase. I’m getting a variety of roles, and also getting a change to work with creative people which is helping me mature as an actor.

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