The second season of Hindistani, a popular Saudi comedy series that includes a Bollywood-style song-and-dance sequence is being shown on OSN Yahala as part of the channels Ramadan programming. We go behind the scenes with the Al-Sharqi brothers of production house Yara Media The second season of Hindistani the award-winning home production from pay […]
The second season of Hindistani, a popular Saudi comedy series that includes a Bollywood-style song-and-dance sequence is being shown on OSN Yahala as part of the channels Ramadan programming. We go behind the scenes with the Al-Sharqi brothers of production house Yara Media
The second season of Hindistani the award-winning home production from pay TV network OSN is being broadcast during Ramadan on OSN Yahala, which was launched last October and has quickly become one of the most watched channels on the networks bouquet. With double the budget, only 30 episodes to film as opposed to 40 last year and a longer time frame to plan and shoot, Hindistani Season 2 is said to be a massive improvement from Season 1. The entire project was undertaken by Dubai-based production house Yara Media, which is run by brothers Usama K. Al-Sharqi and Aws Al-Sharqi.
Hindistani stood out from other Arabic drama series in the region owing to the addition of a Bollywood-style musical element to this comedy series that is set in Saudi Arabia and looks at some of the issues in Arab society. The new series, which was scripted by Usama K. Al-Sharqi, executive manager of Yara Media Services, looks primarily at issues faced by the Arab youth.
Owing to the strong Bollywood element in the series, Hindistani was primarily shot in India.
There is so much energy with Indian productions. We are not used to that in our Arabic productions, which are usually fairly slow-paced. Here, with comedy, fast cuts and a song-and-dance sequence, we have a very energised production. You rarely find so much colour and vigour in the Arab world. We learnt that from India, explains director Aws Al-Sharqi.
Of the 400-strong crew and artists that worked on the production, at least 90% were hired from India. The main characters in the drama and a few technical experts from the Arab world alone flew down for the production. However, the logistics of transporting the crew from Mumbai to Hyderabad was a significant challenge.
Most of the people travelled by train while some came by plane, explains Aws brother and executive producer Usama Al-Sharqi.
We also had the budget this year to get a more popular Arab actor like Asaad Al-Zahrani to act alongside Malayeen, who was the female lead in the previous series as well. This series has seen significant collaboration between both Arab and Indian artists and the use of some fairly new technology as well.
We used the Sony PMW F3 cameras for this shoot and were perhaps the first in Mumbai to use the Super 35mm XDCAM EX technology, chips in director Aws Al-Sharqi.
Initially, I asked the Director of Photography (DoP) Manoj Soni, who is well known in Bollywood, to use this camera for just one day to shoot a number of different sequences before we began to shoot the episodes. But the HD results were so amazing that we decided to shoot the entire series with these cameras.
Four Sony PMW F3 cameras with cinematic lenses were used for the shoot although the team employed RED cameras for the shows and songs.
Each song-and-dance sequence required 30 to 50 dancers while the introductory sequence included a whopping 400 dancers.
Executive producer Usama Al-Sharqi adds that besides trying to control such a large number of dancers and technicians in summer, every element of the shoot had to be carefully planned to ensure we did not exceed our budget.
Locations, interior design, stars, cast, and such a vast number of dancers already put huge pressure on budget. We had more than 300 technicians participate in this production with 90% of them being Indian and the rest, Arabs. If we did not pay attention to every element to ensure there was minimal error, we would have suffered significant losses in terms of budget, explains Al-Sharqi.
A great deal of effort went especially into the musical element, explains director Al-Sharqi.
Each song required great effort and travelling between countries just to produce the vocals. The music was composed in India, the lyrics in Dubai and the vocals were done in Saudi Arabia by the famous singer Adel Khamees. In Damascus or Beirut, the vocals were done by another famous singer Hadiyah. This was a long and exhausting exercise but luckily, Yara Media has an office in each of these countries making coordination easier.
Even choreographing the dances was a slight challenge and the moves needed to be simplified to ensure the Arab actors could also participate. In addition, the director had to translate the meaning of the lyrics to the dance designer to ensure the dance was performed meaningfully.
Once the shoot was completed, the footage was then brought back to Yara Media, where the post production team primarily used Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 for editing. In addition, Adobe After Effects CS6 was used for special effects in the songs and in the introduction.
Shooting in Bollywood was very exciting because you are working with a very professional team, explains director Al-Sharqi.
When I began shooting in India three years ago, I faced some difficulties especially with the language, but over time, we have established a common understanding and they are very skilled in their work. Of course, dealing with artists from different countries and having a mix of a foreign and Indian technical team is quite tough. Despite that, we have managed to elicit a very creative performance from both. We shot in new locations this year and the characters have lent themselves to a different style of comedy that I am sure will truly appeal to the Arab audience.