Joined: 08 October 2009
|Natasha Coutinho/Hill Road Media|
Television stars meet a lot of star struck fans on a daily basis. We turn the tables by getting them to reveal about instances when they were star struck while meeting their favorite actors.
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|Ashita Dhavan aka Malti Bhabhi – Ashita has been a die-hard fan of Shahrukh Khan since childhood. The actress got to meet SRK on the sets of Nach Baliye. "I am a hardcore fan of his, and when I got to know that he will be gracing the Finale of Nach Baliye, I went there just to meet him. This was the fourth time I was meeting him, but I just could not stop looking at him . I was in for a shock when he recognized me and wished me. We even clicked a picture together", says Ashita. Ashita recollects, "I met him for the first time in Kamlistan Studios where I was shooting for Bidaai. Later, I met him during his shoot for a Pepsi ad and I was there at 3am in the morning, went up to his van to meet him. After that, as all know I met him at the sets of Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hai where I had accompanied my Bidaai team when Sara and Parul participated. I was really embarrassed when he told me to kiss me on his cheek "she says.|
Joined: 20 January 2005
Writer-director Rajan Shahi, who helmed popular shows like Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin and Kareena Kareena, took a major risk two years ago when he turned producer. But the effort paid off and today he is known as the man behind Sapna Babul Ka... Bidaai and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hain which are rocking the charts.
He is a maker with possibly the highest strike rate in recent times. His first two shows Sapna Babul Ka... Bidaai and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, as a producer were instant hits and have been maintaining their top positions on Star Plus for over two years. His latest Chand Chhupa Badal Mein pitted against the popular Balika Vadhu may not be rocking the charts but it is still early days. His Swarg Mata Pita Ke Charnon Mein on Colors had an average run and lasted a year. But Rajan Shahi, the director-turned-producer says, "I don't expect all my shows to be hits or garner high TRPs but I am proud of them."
Rajan knows what he is talking about. Having been a part of the TV industry for 16 years, Rajan has had his share of ups and downs. He has seen great highs and even greater lows. If the success of Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin, which he directed brought him laurels, his reluctance to do dailies put him out of business.
A Delhi boy, Rajan, like scores of aspirants landed in Mumbai to try his luck in the industry without a clue of what he wanted to do. It was his maternal grandfather and Dadasaheb Phalke award winner P. Jairaj who inspired him to be a part of the film industry. But he was unable to make any headway and a disheartened Rajan consulted an astrologer who further disillusioned him. Heartbroken, he packed his bags and went back to Delhi to join his family business. His father, however, would hear nothing of it. The very next day he was given marching orders and Rajan was back to square one. This time though he had a plan in mind. He approached Ravi Rai, then a much-sought-after producer-director, and requested to keep him on as his assistant. Ravi brushed him off with the standard line "Will get back". Undaunted, Rajan kept going back with the same request for six months. "Then I got a job at Ulka Advertising, but before taking it up I wanted to meet Ravi," informs Rajan. It was on the sets of Imtihan, a serial Ravi was directing, that Rajan confronted Ravi and vented out his feelings. "I told him I was taking up the job only because he wasn't giving me a chance," recalls Rajan. What transpired later could be a scene straight out of a movie.
Rajan was waiting for a bus when he felt thirsty. Since the set was nearby he went back to have a glass of water. Ravi , who was directing a shot, spotted him and immediately called out to him. "He told me he wanted me to join him as his assistant pronto," smiles Rajan. Out went his advertising job and Rajan ended up assisting Ravi for a good six years. Since Ravi was a writer-director-producer all rolled into one, Rajan learnt the ropes of every department. "I even did errands as a runner boy and a production boy," laughs Rajan, giving the entire credit for his schooling to his mentor Ravi.
However, just when Rajan got ready to branch out on his own ("I am probably the only one to have remained as an assistant for so long"), the TV industry was undergoing a transition and weeklies were slowly being phased out. But Rajan did direct some weekly serials like Hamare Tumhare, episodes of Rishtey on Zee and Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin on Sony. His big break came with the path-breaking Sony serial Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin."Dailies became the order of the day but I was used to sitting on the script, editing and music and then delivering the final product, which is why I was reluctant to do daily soaps, that resembled a factory set-up," recalls Rajan, who for a brief time left TV to concentrate on film projects. However, after a year-and-a-half during which the films he was working on didn't take off, he decided to embrace dailies. "I had to earn my bread and butter and could not overlook this changing medium," philosophises Rajan, who returned to the genre with full vengeance. Shooting 30 days a month, Rajan adapted himself to the environment. He directed the popular sitcom Kareena Kareena and the channel-driver for Zee, Saat Phere, among others. The phase of series-director had came in and Rajan was sought-after for setting up shows that had failed to generate interest. Ghar Ki Laxmi Betiyaan and Maayka were some of the shows that got the Rajan touch. "I always went beyond the script, a trait that I carried over from my weekly shows days, which impressed the producers, " says Rajan.
During this period he had many one-to-one interactions with the broadcasters and Vivek Behl, the then Creative Head of Star Plus, gave him an opportunity to produce a show. It was also the time when Rajan had started thinking along those lines because "there used to a huge disparity between the production and the creatives." It was a turning- point in Rajan's life as he had to give up a good income he earned as a director and turn producer. "I didn't even have a huge bank-balance but I decided to take the plunge," says Rajan, whose first show under his banner Director's Kut was Bidaai. This serial came in at a time when over-the-top, loud saas-bahu soaps had outlived itself and viewers were looking for a change. Bidaai with its simple presentation and story was welcomed open-heartedly and within a year, Star Plus got Rajan to do another show Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. Even this show clicked, racing to the numero uno slot replacing his own Bidaai. "The story is the USP of the serial. It has no negative characters, the costumes are authentic and the sets have a grandeur," explains Rajan.
The success of these two shows brought Rajan laurels and comparisions with TV doyen Ekta Kapoor. "There can be no comparision. The kind of vision, command and control Ekta has over the medium is something which nobody had or will be able to get. She is an institution and I have a lot to learn from her," says the producer-director. What about allegations that he borrows heavily from Rajshri films? "I am very clear that I want to make clean entertainers that propogate positivity in terms of values, relationships etc. It is important in today's world where language has become crass and people are abusing each other. The Rajshri films are an inspiration for their feel-good entertainers and I am a big fan of Soorajji, (Barjatya)," admits Rajan, unabashedly
Joined: 20 January 2005
Sakshi aka Sulagna Panigrahi
I would definitely choose to play Phoebe from Friends. She is goofy and fun and I would love to play a dumb blonde. There are just 2 kinds of roles on Indian TV you either play the protagonist who keeps crying all the time or the wicked vamp. So there is no role on Indian TV that I aspire to play.
Joined: 20 January 2005
Alekh aka Angad Hasija: I do not watch a lot of movies but one movie that inspired me is 3 Idiots. According to me it is great direction wise, story wise as well as performance wise. Most of the songs of 3 Idiots too were very inspirational.
Joined: 08 October 2009
|Ragini of Bidaai |
"For Ganpati I would to go to Angad's house for the darshan. I will also be celebrating Eid and and I am hoping I would get an holiday on both days. I just want to tell my fans enjoy both the festivals without harming other."
|Alekh of Bidaai |
"This year too I will be keeping Ganeshji at my place for one and half days. Relatives and friends are invited for this small celebration. I am always eager for this festival as it brings a lot of happiness and peace within ourselves."
Joined: 20 January 2005
There is some truth to what Shankar says. It's easy to knock TV down because the medium itself is so unabashedly lowbrow. Even in countries with evolved television industries such as the USA, the idiot box is the target of much derision.
"It's the nature of the beast," laughs scriptwriter Venita Coelho, who worked in the television industry for several years before abandoning everything and escaping to Goa. "You need large volumes for TV and for large audiences; that's what gives it a mass-produced, assembly-line air." In an industry where 24 hours of airtime have to be filled with 'entertaining' programming, where the competition between channels is so intense and bitter, it would make Kane and Abel look like best friends. The inevitable casualty is The Idea.
Soaps begin but don't end
At the heart of the 'where-are-the-ideas' lament lies the Indian soap, the staple of all entertainment channels. "It is our daal-roti," says Rajesh Kamat, CEO of Colors, currently the No 2 channel in the country. It's tough to create new ideas within the genre, as soaps come with inbuilt limitations: they have a beginning but no end; instead they just have an endless middle. They are geared to creating emotional melodrama, not to plot or character development. Characters exist primarily for viewers to identify with and sympathise with as they go through their onscreen trials and tribulations.
"But soaps are another genre of story-telling altogether," says Uday Shankar impatiently. "A soap is not a film where a three-hour story begins and ends. Plot lines come and go but characters last."
He adds, "If you have consumers willing to give three or four years to watch a story day in and day out, why shouldn't you carry that story? Look at it in perspective. In India, viewership has a certain pattern. Outdoor life is restricted. There is a huge commitment to long-running stories. There's a need that exists in the marketplace and soaps fill that need."
Today there are about 135 million TV households in India (up from 25 million in 1992), out of which 80 per cent have a cable and satellite connection. The penetration into small towns and rural areas has been significant. To give just a small example: the share of DTH in rural markets has almost doubled in rural India in the last two years.
This new mass audience is what TV soaps primarily cater to. As Uday Shankar explains, "When you create content that is monetised through advertising revenue, you perforce have to create content that the largest number of people will watch."
Identify and crucify
Within this large audience, the most committed viewers are women. Enter the soap staple, the traditional family drama. Exit everything else. Says Rajesh Kamat, "Women viewers almost start living the life of the protagonists. It could be her story or her daughter's story." Admits Rajan Shahi, producer of two of Star Plus's biggest hits, Bidaai and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, "Soaps become an addiction. The characters enter your home every night for months. They become part of your family."
But all these facts ' the inbuilt limitations of the genre, the need to cater to mass small-town audiences, the importance of women viewers ' ensure that there is minimal room for experimentation or for the creation and execution of bold new ideas. For the moment, the industry is stuck in an eternal loop of emotional family dramas followed by more emotional family dramas.
All that the maker of a soap can aspire to do is shuffle about within the standard format. Says Rajan Shahi, "I try and be different within the framework of my social subjects. In Yeh Rishtaa', for instance, you will notice that there is not a single negative character. Therefore the serial stands out in a sea of loud, crass, negative shows."
Or to backtrack a little, Balika Vadhu (Colors) was a differentiator because it was a story around a social issue which wasn't set in a big city. It was a breakthrough idea for soaps and spawned dozens of me-too shows.
The predominance of soaps means there's very little chance to experiment with other formats ' such as series and seasons, as the USA does. Whether it's The Wire or Sopranos, a particular story is told to the finish. Then the show takes a break and the writers roll up their sleeves and get down to the task of writing the next season. This allows them to create plot and character-driven stories. There is scope for intriguing, trend-setting new ideas ' witness the latest series to seduce America, Mad Men, about a 1960s adman in New York.
But most television professionals believe that in India, seasons are a distant dream. Indian viewers want ' no, need ' their daily fix every night. Says Purnendu Shekhar, writer of the hit show, Balika Vadhu, "Over time, shows become brands. Even if a show is dragging on, channels are reluctant to take it off the air, because where's the guarantee that a new show will do well?" What makes matters worse is the sameness in approach. Soaps unfold in a cookie-cutter manner: identical reaction shots, trademark background music and effects. The comfort zone is so high, you can imagine directors literally dozing through the shooting, so similar do most of them appear in look and feel.
But some baby steps have been taken. Recently Sony introduced a primetime band dedicated to a clutch of very different shows, with not a single mother-in-law in sight. But the ratings were disappointing. Viewers couldn't relate to shows such as Powder, a gritty take on the underworld. Perhaps the sudden introduction of a hot chilli in a diet of syrupy rasogollas was too much for viewers to swallow. But there was also Mahi Way, a very urban and contemporary story about an overweight girl who worked in a fashion magazine in Delhi, which got a fan base but didn't get the ratings. (This is less surprising than it seems: stories abound in all TV industries all over the world of critically acclaimed shows with impressive fan followings which inexplicably get stuck with low ratings).
Good writing works
The encouraging part is that Sony does plans to bring another season of Mahi Way. "We didn't want to needlessly extend the story," says Ajit Thakur, Executive Vice-President, Sony. "Now the writers are working on the next season. And I'd like to believe that eventually such shows will work."
The fountainhead of new fiction ideas is of course the writer. If film is a director's medium, television is a writer's medium. But it's a strange paradox ' on the one hand, there is a general lament that that there is a dearth of good writers, yet writers are treated with scant respect and there are few attempt by anyone ' TV channels, production houses ' to invest in writers workshops, talent spotting or to create entry points for new writers. Star Plus is trying to set things right in this direction: it has started sending out teams of people to college campuses in UP, Bihar, MP etc to hire budding, talented writers.
"We need to create a pipeline of talent," says Uday Shankar. "We've created a new unit in our company which is only dedicated to coming up with new ideas and developing them." Ekta Kapoor too scouts small town campuses for writers ' but probably only to create and write the kind of shows she would like to do/the kind of shows channels would like to run, than to think out of the box.
Pressure of ratings
Currently, soap writers have the most unenviable job ' not only do they have to write five episodes every week, they're also constantly under the pressure of ratings. Purnendu Shekhar confesses that when he was writing Saat Phere for Zee, towards the end of the serial's life, there was a great deal of interference from the channel to change the story. "Mostly I have been very lucky," he clarifies. "I have been allowed to work with freedom. The challenge is in trying to introduce new strands into the soap and yet merging them as part of the overall story."
It is true, as Uday Shankar points out, that content consumption changes very slowly. But it is equally true that, as in other fields, only if you zig when everyone else is zagging, will you bring new ideas into play. And that's tough to do in an industry as risk-averse as the TV industry. The stakes are too high, is the universal chorus.
Fear of failure is a powerful driving force, but often it will ensure that you do fail. Star Plus stuck with its mega successful shows (Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki) for far too long. Result: New entrant Colors took advantage of the fatigue factor nudged it out of the No 1 slot for several weeks last year.
Perhaps the TV industry should make a new entry to its book of rules: If it's already on air, don't do it. Think of a new idea.
Joined: 26 August 2006
|Angad escapes a car accident|
|Written by Mamta Patel|
|Saturday, 11 September 2010 20:25 Read : 57 times|
Angad Hasija, who plays the character of Alekh in Rajan Shahi's 'Sapna Babul Ka... Bidaai', had a near death experience last weekend when he got involved in a nasty car accident. Angad was traveling down the highway in his black Endeavor at a steady speed, when suddenly the car in front of him screeched to a halt without a signal.
The Toyota Innova traveling right in front of angad's car braked without proper warning and before the actor's driver could react, they crashed right into the back of the Innova.
The good news is that the actor escaped from the pile-up unharmed because he was wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident. Later, it was revealed that the Toyota Innova had stopped abruptly in order to save a biker. Angad is very fond of his car and tries to keep it in good condition; the actor was heartbroken to see his car getting smashed up.
The Endeavor was a complete wreck after the accident and now the actor has to avail public transport to reach the studios. The shooting schedule for 'Sapna Babul ka... Bidaai' is very hectic and Angad is required to be present in almost every scene of the show, so the good looking actor is having a rough time commuting from his home.
All we can say is, Angad, your life is worth a lot more than a bit of trouble for a few days. Jaan bachi laakhon paaye...
Joined: 08 October 2009
|Stars on their favourite place in Mumbai|
|There's something about the bustling city of Mumbai that despite its chaos and congestion, it still remains one of the most loved cities in the country. We caught up with some of the television stars to find out which is their favourite place to hangout in Mumbai.|
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One thing which I like in Mumbai is Versova beach. The beach is less crowded at night which is when I go. We usually sit with the local tea vendor. Similarly, I go to the pan wala at Juhu. I also enjoy hanging out at Marine Drive.
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