Rajan Shahi is the man of the moment with two of his channel-driving shows — Bidaai and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai on Star Plus— ruling the TRP
But he refuses to become a machine and churn out one show after the other. "For me it's quality over quantity any day. Creative satisfaction is of utmost importance to me," says the producer-director, who is one of the biggest success stories of television in the last two years.
But he has seen it all, right from the time, as a youngster, when he assisted Ravi Rai and was involved in all aspects of the serials. Today Rajan's turned producer, but he remains totally involved in every department. Here's what he has to say about the changing face of TV, how things have become bigger and better for the small medium and why it would be wrong for anyone to consider television any less than films...
"In the past we had a system where if a channel approved of a concept, they'd ask us to make a pilot episode. Those were the days when a director would be involved in every aspect of the show. He was the commander. Likewise, a writer got enough time to create tracks. There was a lot of respect for creativity, broadcasters had a lot of faith in the producer and his creative team. Overall, it was less chaotic. There was a 'live and let live' kind of an atmosphere. Even the luxury of time was there, a show was given ample time to evolve and grow.
The present scenario is very different. The 'live and let live' dictum no longer applies, there are a lot of strategies and counter attacks in trying to push a show. That's also because today the competition is extremely fierce. Television is huge today. Nobody expected it to grow so rapidly in such a short span of time. The money involved is very big. Presentation is like never before right from costumes to sets to the number of people involved. In many ways, they are far superior as compared to their filmi counterparts.
The last few years saw a transition from weeklies to dailies and a lot of people lost out here unable to cope up with the fast pace. When dailies started, it was four times a week. But then it became five times and today, a popular serial is expected to have hour-long special episodes on a regular basis. Today it is survival of the fittest. Everything is instant.. instant acceptance, instant success, instant fame. Also instant rejection and instant dejection! The pressures one is working under are immense, be it producers, directors, technicians or actors. But that's the nature of the business. The positives of the current telly scenario are so many that they outnumber the negatives.
I love this medium, it is my bread and butter. I made a conscious choice when I got into television. Of course, I would love to make films in the future, but not at the cost of my TV shows. I hate people who use TV as a stepping stone to films or those who say if my films don't do well I will get into TV. The money TV generates for the country is far more compared to films. The kind of employment it has generated is tremendous. So many people have got stability in their lives because of television. So also, the kind of power a Jassi, a Tulsi or a Sadhana creates is immense. You watch them everyday, but can you watch a Hrithik Roshan every day for half an hour for three years? There is more discipline in the telly industry too. In fact, TV has taught Bollywood
how to give the best product in the most cost-effective manner. I technically churn out two to three films every week! At times, the quality is even better than a film that's taken two years to make.
No doubt, TV borrows heavily from films. It's basically a two-way process. Today both films and TV support each other equally and that's a healthy trend. Filmstars are happily doing TV. They are hosting shows and making appearances to promote their movies. Big B, SRK, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar
today are both film and TV stars, aren't they?"
We surely agree with you Rajan...