Baby doll

Medium is the magic here

Remember the old days when everyone at home would gather in the living room or in the veranda and you all sit down together to listen to a drama on the radio? Well, that’s what actor Jaideep Ahlawat recalled, when he was recording for his latest project, an Audible podcast, Doll. Except he remembered sitting on a farm, listening intently to Vividh Bharati on the radio.

A revenge drama, written and directed by Pravesh Bhardwaj, Doll tells the story of a sex worker (played by Richa Chadha) who decides to avenge the death of her friend, killed by the son of an underworld don (Jaideep Ahlawat).

Bhardwaj wanted to tell the story of a “supposedly gentle woman, who goes up against someone who is apparently the most powerful person there is”. With no support, no power, and no choice, she makes a decision that changes the lives of everyone around her.

Bhardwaj says, “For me, the story started when the protagonist falls victim to something unsavory, an accident, something she didn’t sign up for. From a victim, she becomes a survivor, then an aggressor, and at the end of the story, the brass knuckles that she is, she continues to hunt down the bad guy.

The director laughs that podcasts are the audience’s personal Cannes, because it’s “kaan wala cinema (cinema for the ears)”. Very different from the visual medium, Bhardwaj says that when listening to a podcast, the imagination and the setting are totally in the hands of the audience, it can be how they shape it.

But since there is no visual to grab the audience’s attention, audio storytelling has to use many other ways to do so. And it’s not just other audio mediums that compete for podcasts, but a podcast has to compete with all other forms of entertainment, as well as your surroundings, to become the center of your attention.

Bhardwaj explains that the reason behind this is that people usually listen to podcasts from the comfort of their homes, while traveling or working, to distract themselves from the monotony of it all.