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The feeling of heading the #1 show in India at the age of 19 was something special - Vikas Gupta


Vikas Gupta

Vikas Gupta is a name we would love to associate with some of the romantic runaway hits on television coming from the stables of Balaji Telefilms like Kis Desh Main Hai Meraa Dil,Kitani Mohabbat Hai amongst others. The man made the impossible possible when he became the youngest Creative Director in television at the early age of 19. After having a vast and competitive journey in television, Vikas Gupta has now turned producer under the banner A Lost Boy Productions, and is enthralling the viewers with a one-of-its kind juvenile crime based show on Channel V and Star Plus, Gumrah.

Here is Vikas Gupta in an exclusive conversation with Tellychakkar.com wherein he talks about his journey, ups and down in life and more…

Talk us through your journey in the television industry…
I was 17 when I dropped out of college as I was keen on going abroad and studying. My parents were dead against it, so I had an argument with them and had come down to meet an ex girl friend in Mumbai. She was then working with a film director Mr Bhimsen who directed Gharonda and he instantly hired me to write for him. Since I was in desperate search of a job, I grabbed it with both hands. I had a great learning experience for two months under him after which my long journey began. I then worked at two call centers, had a five day stint in Balaji Telefilms after which I got fired, moved to DJ's A Creative Unit, worked for Boogie Woogie and then got back to Balaji again. And this time I got trained under Nivedita Basu, who was just plain fantastic and is the most secure woman I have met till date. Hard work is something I have learnt from her and within two months she promoted me to the Creative Head's position for Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. This was something unheard of, but I guess there was lot of luck involved as well along with hard work.

Continue…

From there onwards, a list of shows happened wherein I was the creative including Kasamh Se, Kasauti Zindagi Kay etc. Then came Kahaani Mahaabharat Ki; although the show did not do well, it came as a learning curve. Kitani Mohabbat Hai happened just a few months after Mahabharat, but by then I had decided to take a break as I had decided to explore opportunities outside as well. I got a chance to work with some fantastic people. I was writing plays, developing stories, doing full time theatre, directing short films and travelling after which I joined BBC. I worked there for over a year and learnt value system and innovation. I think it's the mix of Balaji and BBC which gave me an interesting insight into the kind of content I now wish to make and how I would like to make it. After quitting BBC, no one gave me the kind of work I wanted, so I decided to pitch shows myself as I needed work. So Prithvi Theater became my office and I started working on a couple of ideas and the tried meeting up with younger channels like Channel V and Bindaas. The team at Channel V was very welcoming and we made a fiction pilot for them which got tested in research. The fiction pilot got rejected and that is when we pitched a teen crime show which is now known as Gumrah. And this is how I turned producer.

You have been the youngest creative at Balaji Telefilms. Comments…

Yes, that was interesting because I did not realize the furor it caused as I had just come to Balaji Telefilms and became a Creative Director in two months. Having said this, I am sure I would have done something right and that included not sleeping for 48 hours at a stretch (smiles). Whatever sleep we got was in the bunkers in Balaji. It was a superb time of my life, as I was heading the #1 show of India when I was 19 and that feeling will always be special. After Nivedita and Gayatri guided me, it was Ekta Kapoor who taught me the importance of having a good vision. I have to mention here, that while doing all this at the young age of 19, I missed out on personal life with friends. Instead I was in edit rooms, attending meetings etc. Trust me that was not so good a feeling.

What else have you done?

Well, l headed news media division for Balaji Telefilms for a year and had the most amazing time learning and understanding that market. I strongly feel it is going to be one of the most interesting markets in coming times.

You went on to launch successful romantic shows like Kis Desh Main Hai Meta Dil, Kitani Mohabbat Hai etc. How was that phase of life?

That was a fantastic time as the team I was working with was just superb; a show becomes successful because of the team and it's the team which actually puts vision into reality. The experience of doing young romantic shows was superb as there was so much energy on the sets. Most importantly I got to work in close quarters with some of the most talented people out of which Garry Binder is a name I would always remember. He passed away the following year but his dedication to work is something that inspired all of us.

The most successful phase in your long career will be…

Success is very subjective; thankfully for me every time something nice happened I have had people congratulating me. As of now, my production house has been set and I have a really young team working day and night to make content which we truly believe in and people are welcoming it, and this is something I will call success.

Did you go through something called the "struggling" phase?

Yes, when I took a year's break and tried my hands in theatre, travelling and other things and when I wanted to come back no one was giving me work, not even Balaji and that was a phase when I really needed work. Even after being a Creative Head at 19 and launching successful shows, I was back to having Rs. 2000 in my bank account. That was when I realized that I was starting all over again at the age of 23. But if I had not seen this low phase, I wouldn't have started A Lost Boy Productions.

Where else have you worked apart from Balaji Telefilms?

Fox Studios, BBC India, R&N Entertainment, DJ's A Creative Unit are some of the other companies I have got to learn from.

How did your production house A Lost Boy Productions happen?

When there was no work, I had to make work for myself and also wanted to do the kind of work I was very keen on. I was developing a play for someone and when I started pitching and ended up with a show in 6 months, I realized that I need a production house. That is when A Lost Boy Productions happened.

You are now producing a unique show Gumrah on Channel V. Can you tell us about the ground work you had to do before launching the project?

The show is a researched based show; understanding human emotions and lives is the key to this show. From juvenile homes of Dongri to meeting families who went through tragedies, we have met all. Channel V is an exceptional channel which is so beautifully involved in the whole process. When I met Prem Kamat, Head of Channel V, he had told me, 'I do not care about GRP, I can do with less GRP but what I want is that you make this show with right sensibilities'. I have never heard that from a channel head and we are today glad that we have made the show the way we wanted it to be.

Your take on the youth oriented shows that are on air currently on Channel V?

Youth in India is highly neglected when it comes to content suitable for them on TV. There is not one teen channel in this country. Hopefully with people realizing the potential with the success of Channel V, we will have more content being made for the youth. Hip Hip Hurray was a fantastic show that I felt was not only inspirational but also real. We have a lot of superb shows abroad that have been doing well over the years. Hopefully we will also be graduating with the kind of content we will be making for the youth.

Which are the shows you like on TV apart from Gumrah?

Game of Thrones, Shameless, Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hain, Bade Acche Lagte Hain amongst others.

Coming back to Gumrah, why did you chose Karan Kundra as the host?

Everyone had asked me the same question when I had proposed this. Even Karan was surprised, but his fan following among teenagers is mind-blowing, and most importantly he believed in the concept and the team.

Now Gumrah is aired on Star Plus too. Is this satisfying to you as producer?

Yes, it is always nice to see that the content you created is being watched by more people. We were literally jumping when we got the rating of our repeat episodes on Star as even they have fetched fantastic numbers on the given slot. It touched 1.6 which was double than some of the original programming on weekend on GEC channels.

How different is it to don the creative and the producer's chair?

Very different, because there is more responsibility on you, not just of the show but also of the people associated with it. But I am a creative first and producer after that so that the balance gets made.

Which phase was easier for Vikas Gupta?

As a creative director it was easier, but again easy things are not the best ones.

Tell us something about Vikas, the person…

I live in fantasy, and I love it.

There were talks of you becoming an actor with Balaji's Pyaar Ki Yeh Ek Kahaani. Why did it not materialize?

When I had taken a break, I was doing a lot of theatre and one of my plays was watched by the concerned persons and I was offered Pyaar Kii Yeh Ek Kahaani. It was quite exciting when the role was narrated to me, but I have worked long enough to realize it doesn't stay the same. When I started shooting I did not enjoy the process at all. Acting for TV is a really tough process not physically but emotionally. I realized I was happy acting for theatre, and working behind the camera for television.

Are there any plans of becoming an actor?

I am still an actor but off stage. I enjoy and totally love doing plays, acting for TV is not an option. It just does nit excite me that much.

Have you been part of any of the movies produced by Balaji Telefilms?

Yes, Ragini MMS was one hell of an experience; I learnt a lot from that project.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I don't see myself that far.

Any other projects you plan to start off as a producer?

Yes, we are developing two other shows and hoping they will be loved as well.

How about a love story?

I am waiting to do a love story. We have developed something interesting and completely mad, and hope that it would be liked by a GEC.

What do you do when you have free time?

I watch movies and hang out with friends.

Future of television, your take on it…

I am too young to know or probably understand what it will be, but it better be good because we are in it (smiles).

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Posted: 18 August 2012 at 7:00am | IP Logged
tfs..i'm glad he wz the creative of KMH and now producing Gumrah :D

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Posted: 18 August 2012 at 8:09am | IP Logged
doesnt he look like MSD????Confused

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Posted: 18 August 2012 at 8:13am | IP Logged
who is MSD?

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Posted: 18 August 2012 at 8:16am | IP Logged
mujhe pata tha tum ye zarur puchogiLOL
 
Mahendra singh dhoniSmile

shibz

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Posted: 18 August 2012 at 8:20am | IP Logged
hehehehe fir bhi likha tumneLOL oh ok i think VG looks better :)

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Posted: 18 August 2012 at 8:23am | IP Logged
mera like button wrk nahi kr raha haiAngry

shibz

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Posted: 18 August 2012 at 8:26am | IP Logged
some error that is..it is not working for anybodyLOL

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