After decades of showing the Mumbai underworld, Hindi cinema still finds ways to retell their stories. The new web series from Prime Video – Bambai Meri Jaan – is yet another story about organised crime in India’s financial capital. In an exclusive interview, head of Indian Originals at Prime Video, Aparna Purohit, talks about the new show and dissects why crime dramas have always found an audience. Farhan Akhtar has produced the show under Excel Entertainment banner.
Talking about the genre, Purohit says, “Crime is a genre that always works. It cuts across regions, languages, and if the drama has really layered and well-etched out characters, it certainly helps. This one (Bambai Meri Jaan) has a very strong emotional core. We were quite sure that this will resonate with people all. We believe this show is going to cut across borders and that is the reasons this will release in more than 200 countries.”
However, she also adds, “Having said that, I believe, more than the genre, it is the stories (that matter). How they are told – in whose hands they are in. A great story in the hands of a great creator can become magic while a not so great story in the hands of not so great creator will just not work.”
Asked about the preparation for the new show, Purohit says that a lot of investment went into the writers’ room. “We spent a long time in the writers’ room. We had a very inclusive writers’ room. To authentically create that particular era – the lifestyle, the haristyle, their jewelry, their fashion, the dialect, their music. All of it. It takes a lot of time and I am glad (they spent that time on it). Kudos to the creators who decided to give that kind of time to the show.” The set of the show was destroyed twice and had to be reconstructed from scratch. Akhtar also thanked Prime Video for staying with the makers throughout the process.
Directed by Shujaat Saudagar, Bambai Meri Jaan credits the story to journalist and author Hussain Zaidi. Zaidi has written several books on Mumbai’s dreaded gangsters such as Dawood Ibrahim and Haji Mastan. The show has clear hints of the men who inspired the lead characters in Bambai Meri Jaan but the producers insisted that it is a fictional show.
A crime drama that also tells the tale of the tussle between an honest cop and his criminally-minded son, Bambai Meri Jaan is set in India’s Mumbai. Kay Kay Menon plays the cop Ibrahim while Avinash Tiwary (of Khakee The Bihar Chapter fame) plays the son Dara. Kritika Kamra plays the role of Habiba, the cop’s daughter in the show. Despite the claims of the show being completely fictitious, Dara’s role can be likened with Dawood while his sister Haseena Parkar can be seen in Habiba. Despite stark resemblance to various real life gangsters, the makers insist Bambai Meri Jaan is completly fictitious.
(This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.)