Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who is entering the cluttured TV medium with "Saraswatichandra", a show replete with "never-seen-before grandeur", says he feels intimidated with the competition on small screen. Nevertheless, he admits he is now keen to expand his presence on the medium.
"To begin with, I didn't understand the medium. The whole thing about TRPs (television rating points) ruling the content was a little troubling. And the competition on the medium is just so intimidating," said the 49-year-old.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. What made you go into television production with "Saraswatichandra"?
A. Look at the reach of the medium! Today soaps and serials go into every home. In terms of numbers, TV has a far bigger reach than cinema. The demograph of the home-viewing audience fascinated me. Every home doesn't have audiences going to the cinema. But every home has a TV. I wanted to explore the medium, but not with the usual kind of soaps.
Q. But for you, who thinks larger-than-life epic cinema, this step into the living room would appear to cramp your style?
A. It wasn't easy, I can tell you that. To begin with, I didn't understand the medium. The whole thing about TRPs (television rating points) ruling the content was a little troubling. And the competition on the medium is just so intimidating. One has to sustain the viewers' interests over a long period of time.
Q. Any regrets about taking the plunge?
A. Are you joking? Of course not! I've learnt so much from the experience. Now we're looking forward to seeing the serial on air. I hope it gets the kind of attention and love that we've given it. When I decided to do a serial based on Govardhanram Madhavram Tripathi's Gujarati novel 'Saraswatichandra', I knew exactly what I was getting into. The book is a massive achievement running into several volumes.
Q. You are no stranger to literature, are you?
A. 'Devdas', of course was based on Saratchandra Chattopadhyay's novel. 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' was also adapted from a Bengali literary work, and of course 'Saawariya', which I am the proudest of, is adapted from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's short story. I love putting literature to film. 'Saraswatichandra' is considered the mother of all Gujarati fiction. I wanted to make a film out of it.
Q. Then what happened?
A. The film didn't work out. The novel running into several volumes, was too voluminous. Somehow it rendered itself far better to a TV adaptation. It has all the ingredients - the drama, twists and turns to hold audiences' attention for a period of time. While I could telescope the nuances of 'Devdas' and 'Hum Dil...' into one feature film, condensing the sprawling epic narration of 'Saraswatichandra' into that format was impossible.
Q. Which would you say your serial 'Saraswatichandra' is closer to 'Devdas' or 'Hum Dil...', in terms of look and flavour?
A. I'd say both. If I may say so, the kind of grandeur in 'Saraswatichandra' has never been seen on Indian television before. But more than that, I think it is the idealism and progressive ideas of the protagonist that I wanted to bring to the home medium. The novel was written 1887. But the ideas are relevant today.
Q. There was a highly-acclaimed 1968 film based on the same novel.
A. I am big fan of Govind Saraiya's film. His interpretation of the novel was masterly. If we could capture even an iota of the film's drama and emotions, I think we've done our job. However, let me add that our serial is very different from the film. Our serial is far more contemporary. We've relocated it in a urban setting. And the ideas have been somewhat contemporised. But the basic values of the novel have been retained.
Q. What are these values?
A. It shows us a reformist hero who puts social progress above self. I think we need more such heroes. It is also a great love story. Most importantly, it tells the youth they need to give back to society some of what they get.
Q. How deep would your involvement on television be?
A. As deep as it can get. I've been very fortunate with this project. Star Plus have been extremely co-operative. There has been no interference from them, and yet they are there on the project hands-on. In spite of television being a new medium for me, it has been a deeply enriching experience for me. I hope to do more on television that hasn't been done before.
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woow...m a biggg fan of Sanjay Sir's work...:)) & m sooo glad to hear that SC is gonna be a mix of 2 of my most fav...evergreen movies of all times...Devdas & HDDCS...whooaaa...m so excited to watch this show...the promos r sooo FAB !!!!!!!!!! Just wishing all the good luck to the entire team of SC..:))
Sanjay is a superb director jenifer looks beautifull & please dont compare this show with IPKKND its not a stupid cheap romance drama big insult of Sanjay its a good story line drama with great actors best of luck Sanjay
after my beloved IPKKND, i think dis hs to be d next show for whom i m xcited based on promos...
But i didnt like d time slot i mean 7.30pm...n dat kaali is in prime time slot..
Anyways, all the best n pls SP dont do wat u did wid IPK...pls
The best think about SLB is his "amar" devdaas, hum dil, black n saawariya typo films...
Edited on:14 February 2013 at 10:47pm
I am super excited to watch this show! This is a show I am actually looking forward to watching and planning on doing so, not just "falling into" watching as I did most of the Indian TV shows I have seen! My first being "Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon"!
But I actually happen to be a fan of Sanjay Leela Bhansali! I have seen all his movies. So from that track record, I expect nothing but amazing work from him, be it Cinema or TV!
I think him stepping into TV, has given the medium a vote of confidence and glamorised it further! This proves once and for all that Indian TV had come of age!
This show will not be like some "kitchen politics ", "Saas Bahu" drag, full of scheming vamps, that insult the intelligence of an audience! It will be a story for thinking people to watch! One that even overseas audiences can identify with and enjoy! I happen to belong to that category, as I am not ethnically Indian. The reason I hardly watch any Indian TV shows is the regressive content shown! Ipkknd broke that mould for me, being a love story! Currently I watch "ARJUN" and EHMMBH and Qubool Hain, which each have unique elements in the stories!
So I for one, am really looking forward to SLB's offering!
Edited on:14 February 2013 at 9:19pm
I hope SLB can triumph the TRP system and still bring about an excellent production, creating a revolution in Indian TV industry wherein you don't need saas-bahu rhona-dhona drama to succeed ahead.
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