Joined: 25 July 2005
Rajan Shahi entered the world of entertainment as an assistant to producer Ravi Rai. He was actively involved in the creative process of famous serials like Sailaab and Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zaroorat Hai. He moved on and wore the director's hat in the year 1999 with Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi. After directing path-breaking shows like Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi, Hamare Tumhare, Rishtey, Kareena Kareena, Reth, Saat Phere, Mamtaa, Millee, Virasaat and Saathi Re he went on to launch his own production house Director's Kut in 2007. His first production Bidaai not only gained the numbers but also impressed the critics. Now he is making news for his two new interesting shows Havan and Kuch Toh Log Kahenge.
In an exclusive tte--tte with Tellychakkar, Rajan talks about his journey, his latest shows and future plans. Excerpts from the interview…
What brought you to the world of entertainment?
My grandfather P. Jairaj was a veteran film-maker. So from the childhood I liked the entire atmosphere of films, shoots, etc. I hail from Delhi and after completing my graduation from Hindu College I shifted to Mumbai in 1993. I was supposed to join an ad agency but then I opted to work with producer Ravi Rai. It was an enlightening experience to work with him. He was not only a producer but also took active interest in writing and directing. Then one thing led to another and I took up directing with Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi in 1999. After directing a few shows I finally launched my production house in 2007.
How much has the scenario changed in the TV industry over the years?
A lot actually. Changes have happened socially, economically and creatively. And today changes are happening rapidly. Over the years shows have transformed from weeklies to dailies. I was not comfortable with the change initially and stayed at home for one and a half years. I thought it was a passing phase. But when I realised that it was developing into a trend I adapted to it but added my own elements. The scenario has changed drastically and it will keep changing in the future. Only worrying factor is the rising lack of stability in the industry. A show can be taken off air within two months of its launch. There is increased pressure and competition has become really high. But if one follows his or her creative instincts then there is nothing to worry about.
What is the process of making a daily soap?
We hit on a concept and work on it in collaboration with the channel. Then a team of writers is brought in. Once the story is in place the next and the most important step is to cast the right actors. Then there is production and post-production.
How did Director's Kut happen?
I must state that I have never planned anything in life. I have done things instinctively. I had a reputation in the industry as a director. I was successful, financially secure and had credibility in the market. Then came a point in life when I had two choices. I either could have directed a film or produce a TV show. I chose to produce a TV show which was Bidaai under Director's Kut. I took a calculated risk and it worked. However, I owe a lot to Uday Shankar and Vivek Bahl. They inspired and supported me to produce a show. As a producer I have a lot of creative control and I don't have to compromise on ideas or plans.
You are a producer but you have also directed shows. How do you balance both the roles?
Now I don't go on the sets and direct a show. I have a team of directors whom I trust and have complete faith in. Yes I do supervise and remain actively involved in the creative process but I give my team a free hand. When I was a director I had to make a lot of compromises and I don't want that to happen in my production house. I provide my team with the necessary infrastructure. I am very accessible and anyone can come up to me and talk. I aim to create an environment which helps an individual to grow professionally and personally.
What are the most important milestones of your TV career?
First would be my association with Ravi Rai. I have learnt a lot under him. Second big milestone would be when I launched Director's Kut. I am proud of all the shows that I have done till now.
How much importance do you give to TRPs?
I agree that TRPs define our destinies. But my job is to come up with a concept which is creative and unique. I don't know if a show that I am making will gain TRPs or not. If I knew the secret then all my shows would have been amazingly successful. All I can do is to work hard and be sincere towards my vocation.
Do you think people can connect to your new shows Havan and Kuch Toh Log Kahenge?
Absolutely. The best part about Havan's promotion was that we did not reveal the story. People think it is a religious show but it is all about trust, belief and faith. I give all credit to Ashvini Yardi of Colors for coming up with such a unique show. The show has a fresh texture and has an amazing cast.
Kuch Toh Log Kahenge is an adaptation of famous Pakistani show Dhoop Kinare. The show is fresh and has a different template. I cajoled Kamlesh Pandey to write the script of it. Both the shows will symbolise creativity and brilliance.
Which shows are you watching on television currently?
You keep too busy. How do you unwind?
It gets difficult to balance professional and personal life at times. I do tend to crib about the extra work load but I love it at the end of the day. I am in this profession because of choice. However, it's important to give time to one's family. I have a 9-year old daughter Ishika with whom I love to spend time. I read a lot and also like to travel.
Professionally there is no insecurity as the medium is big enough to accommodate everyone. I have seen lots of ups and downs in my life. There have been times when you are given first seat in a function and there are times when you are not given a seat at all. So it's a part and parcel of the industry I am in. I have learnt to take rejection as much as relish appreciation. Personally, there are always insecurities but they are too personal to disclose.
Who do you consider as your competitors in the industry?
As I mentioned the industry has enough space for everyone. There has always been competition and there will always be competition but it's a healthy competition. I don't see it a negative manner as everyone is trying to work creatively and churn out good shows.
What are your future plans?
I have never planned things in life. I believe that today's hard work will take care of tomorrow. In the future I want to make more and more TV shows and also do meaningful cinema.
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