In Conversation with Director Deepak Pandey: On EORTV, (the OTT platform aimed at the LGBTQ community) and more

Deepak Pandey is a renowned industry veteran and has been helming EORTV (the Premier Video on Demand, OTT media service platform with a differentiated philosophy to focus on the LGBTQ audiences and other communities) right from inception. He started his career as a cinematographer in the Indian television industry. He made his directorial debut with ‘I love US’ which was released on Footloose Youtube channel. He has also directed ‘Shaurya’ which aired on Sony LIV, The Bull of Dalal street, Halala, Paanchali, Singardaan, #metoo, Dance Bar, Tadap and many more for Ullu channel. He was awarded the best director award for the series, Halala. He plays a vital role in establishing the series and is known to experiment in his craft while exploring new technologies in the market.

We at MAM spoke to Deepak recently & given below is an excerpt from the conversation-

How does it feel to straddle multiple areas, television, OTT and cinema? How challenging is it?
It gets difficult sometimes if I’ll be very honest. To understand the psyche of the viewer is not easy. Writing stories around the LGBTQ community is more challenging. I always try to create emotional magic in my content. Currently my focus is to manage content for EORTV only and tell stories which will be loved by the audiences.

What do you enjoy more, cinematography or direction? Why?
I like this one and it’s difficult to pick. Cinematography was my first love and will always be. When I was into cinematography I was flowing through every frame of my life and told stories through my visuals. Now I tell the story through audio visual and this is my new found love. So I am having a good time and enjoying the process. Cinematography is like my strong base. It helps me in creating magic in my direction. Photography always deals with the technical aspects and direction always deals with human emotions. So it’s a perfect balance that I am trying to maintain and apply in the content I create. At the end of the day, I’m a storyteller, have always been one. I have done that through my lenses, by using best of my knowledge and creating the magical world as needed in the script. This journey through lenses further pushed me to become a director. To envisage the entire story and sharing it with my audience is what I feel made the transition. My years in cinematography helped me understand the medium better for the stories to unfold better. I cherish the great grounding that I have had.

Does your long experience as a cinematographer help you when you are directing a project? Could you elaborate on it?
Of Course yes, the journey begins when I go for the recce to finalise the location or have to communicate with the art director or deal with the dop. When I am building a set or a frame, two things come to my mind, how my cinematographer is going to create magic through the light and how is he going to create a source for it. In the meanwhile my other side of the brain thinks how my art director is going to pop up the set so I can create movement and direct my actors. These two battles always happen in my mind and because I have experience of being on sets for years now, it’s easier to support my team and make quick decisions.

How was the experience of working on Shaurya?
I
t was a great experience. I always wanted to tell the story about people who lived for others and died for the nation. It was an emotional journey while writing because I got into the depth of it while viewing the journey of these real heroes. This series has created a value of life towards the nation.

Tell us about the inception of EORTV, what led you & the team to come up with it, challenges faced etc.
I
 wanted to be a voice of reason in this second phase of my life. I have always wanted to do something to bring about some significant changes in society, and whenever I met people from the LGBTQ community,  I felt sorry for them. I always thought, why are they not studying, why can’t they become pilots ,why are they not doing larger than life things ,why are they not happy? And mainly why are they not getting accepted in society? That’s how I thought I would tell the stories and aim to create an awareness in the society.  The people in our community are one of us and are with us. We have to accept them. Talking about challenges, challenges are huge. Being a director, being a storyteller I have pitched the stories to all GECC and OTT platforms and nobody accepted them. That’s what led me to start our own independent OTT platform EORTV. EORTV is the first LGBTQ focused platform in our country.

What do you think about the present Indian OTT space & how do you visualize the same in the near future?
I feel the present Indian OTT platform has a huge market where they can gain a big audience if they tell good stories for the future. Whoever will say good and engaging stories will sustain.  The current streaming business is experiencing the golden era, due to the pandemic, people have become more informed about various streaming platforms and are happy to use it. Due to this directly or indirectly people’s views are broadening and they are accepting unusual content, even out of their comfort zone and have started liking and supporting the same. Social media is a big influence in this, as word of mouth through social media is playing a crucial part.

Could you share some of the future plans of EORTV?
EORTV will create a couple of franchises in the country. So we will meet with new talent and technicians. We want to expand our brain, get more hands and legs and minds to work together.  Through this journey we are going to motivate the youth and provide a platform to them.

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