Caught Out is a feature length documentary, from three-time Academy Award winning PASSION Pictures in association with MOW Productions, Directed by Supriya Sobti Gupta, that blows the lid on the biggest match fixing scandal to rock the world of international cricket. It is a pulsating story that looks at the trajectory of cricket in India, brimming with unexpected twists and turns whilst exploring how the cricketing fraternity fought back from one of the biggest corruption scandals.
Director Supriya Sobti Gupta
As my directorial debut on a feature length documentary, it was crucial for me to work with a production company that had the experience both logistically and creatively to deliver a premium film that would have real impact. I wanted to partner with a company that would be willing to approach the subject under a local lens whilst giving it a global feel, with an elevated sense of storytelling. As a former broadcast journalist with the BBC and Al Jazeera English, I had worked on documentaries that were access heavy – on important topics where the subjects involved were of a very high calibre so and so whilst exploring co-production ideas with the development team at PASSION Pictures, there was a sense of comfort from both sides
While I’d helmed several notable productions in the capacity of a producer, Passion, in its quest for diversifying and nurturing a female director talent pool, offered to provide mentorship that would help me traverse the fine line of producer turned director, which in a nutshell explains how I landed a dream directorial debut with this film on cricket!
Cricket is the most revered sport in India and so with our film Caught Out, that throws light on the dark underbelly of the sport, we wanted to ensure that all check and balances were in place. While my company provided a solid on-ground team to execute the production of the film, I knew we needed the safest pairs of hands possible to support the legal and editorial side of our film and PASSION Documentaries provided that.
PASSION is known to tell stories with a balanced approach and has a reputation for award-winning films whether they be biopics, scandals, big events in history; they tell compelling stories from a very human perspective and in the best manner possible with great panache.
As this was an access driven film with sensitives around the subject, it was vital for us to secure the right contributors who could provide us first-hand visceral details of how the match-fixing scandal unfolded. Whilst it does boil down to having the 1-1 relationships with the contributor and earning their trust in telling the story, it does help hugely to be working with a company with strong credentials.
I was not claiming to be a cricket aficionado, I approached the contributors with an element of transparency of what I was looking to understand. I was sincere in the fact that I was trying to unravel their journey and not approach the story with preconceived notions.
I’m not certain if women leading the project on the ground made a difference but it may have.
PASSION were in every sense the right partner for this project not only in terms of securing a commission with Netflix, providing the practical production infrastructure and creative storytelling partnership, but also at a far more personal level when I discovered while shooting the film in India during Covid that I was expecting twins!
Amy Foster, Head of Factual, PASSION PICTURES
Supriya is not a stranger to hard hitting stories or stories of human interest. A broadcast journalist by training, she has credits that include; Mumbai Mafia: Police vs The Underworld, Bad Boy Billionaires: India, Street Food Asia, Home Game and Chef’s Table to mention a few.
My background is working in the premium factual documentary space on everything from sport to true crime to science, so our combination of sensibilities just felt like a good fit all round. Supriya’s local knowledge was vital too. The documentary is about the match fixing scandal that shook the world of cricket the late 1990s – no one could understand the notion of how cricket was (and still is!) practically a religion in India in the ‘90s more than someone who lived and breathed that experience. Supriya was looking at this subject from the inside, rather than us coming at it as outsiders. I think this model is important for the future of documentary, and personally, I find it really satisfying. There are hundreds of amazing untold stories in India and as the documentary talent pool there grows, I’m sure we’re going tostart seeing more and more fantastic films coming out of that market.
Caught Out is set in the cricketing world.Having sport as the background to any film is always a great start as drama is built into it – there are winners and losers, twists and turns and almost always surprises. This film then adds a layer of crime, some corruption and even politics which takes the drama to the next level.
As a female director taking on two very male-dominated worlds – those of cricket and crime – I think Supriya benefited to a certain amount by being underestimated by them. She didn’t pose a threat or provoke any sort of bravado around sports statistics or tactical know-how. I think this allowed her to get brilliantly warm and insightful testimony from otherwise very guarded contributors. It also allowed her to tell a much wider story for a much wider audience. This is not just a cricket film. It is a film about corruption, fame, greed, and crime. They are very universal themes that appeal to a far larger demographic and having a storyteller who could understand the context of cricket as a national passion, while looking beyond the construct of the sport to the bigger picture and what it means for all of us has been very important. Ultimately, this is an Indian story but it’s being launched globally on Netflix which demonstrates its international appeal.
In terms of the practical production partnership, we were filming during Covid, so Supriya and her team in India ran the day to day and we were able to support them by working between London and India using Zoom and remote edits. This was the only way for us to do it then, but now this way of working has become the norm. The only major factor was the time-difference between London and India but other that it was seamless, even with the edits thanks to Splice’s incredibly smooth remote editing system.
This project really had everything that we look for at PASSION; a compelling story with global appeal, but told by exactly the right people to tell it. Within two minutes of talking to Supriya, it was evident that she was exactly the right person to helm this project and we were fully committed in supporting her and are immensely grateful and pleased that Netflix shared that commitment.
Director: Supriya Sobti Gupta (MOW Productions)
Producer: Megha Mathur (MOW Productions)
Production House: PASSION Pictures and MOW Productions
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