J.D has not only made a mark in sitcoms like Baa Bahu Aur Baby, Instant Khichdi or Sarabhai VS Sarabhai, but he had also excelled in churning out dramas with Shree, Mera Naam Karegi Roshan, Behenein etc…
And today, he is back again with a new show on Zee TV titled Chhoti Si Zindagi, which has a total different genre in itself. Tellybuzz had an exclusive starry talk with J.D on his new show and on his memorable journey in the industry...
What inspired you to make a show like Chhoti Si Zindagi?
Well, I was in Mauritius when I got a call from Sukesh Motwani asking me to produce a show on those lines for Zee TV. He explained the concept in just one line after which I got charged up to work on the show. He told me about the two sweet small girls who have a vulnerable father, few circumstances that lead their life into an orphanage and their whole journey of life. All these made me to take up this show. I would say that even a film had never made me feel so satisfied. Actually these two girls remind me of my daughters who are of the same age which was again a major reason that inspired me.
What is the basic concept of the show and what do you want to convey to your audience through this show?
As I had said earlier, there will be few circumstances that lead these two girls into an Orphanage, but later on people will see a few more children joining them after which their life eventually starts. The whole journey will teach us that we should be happy in all diversities of life and should always carry a positive attitude. This whole show is about positivity; it's all about how you look at your life. It's always better to see what you have in your life rather than crying on what you don't. And the show will also bring in a few fresh characters that will differentiate it from the others, along with all the needed entertainment for the audience.
How did the casting for the show happen?
Actually I was planning to take up the character of the father and take my daughters in the show. But when I took the auditions, I found great child actors. Coming back to the father, I always wanted to be in that role, but at the end of the day I wanted a better actor than me to essay this role. Then I planned to cast Pawan Malhotra with whom I am very close and have a good rapport. Then we turned to the casting of the kids and they all are just superb, I bet on it. Kids in my shows are always given more importance as we always want the kid to fit in properly to the character sketch given. Coming back to the casting of the other characters of the show like Devaki and Bhola, we really needed great actors and we got Sushmita Mukherjee and Sachal Tyagi. I must say, Sushmita has no replacement in this industry and to complement Devaki, Sanchal Tyagi was the best.
Why this show for Zee TV?
Sukesh Motwani was the prime reason for this show to happen and secondly, I have a good rapport with Zee TV as we have always done something different that has always worked. We started discussing with the channel about the storyline and frankly speaking, this show was made for Zee TV.
What is your personal favorite genre?
My personal favorite genre is comedy plus emotions, or we can say humor with emotion like how we had in Baa Bahu Aur Baby. The shows which have emotions along with few comic elements are more like me. I too like emotional drama, but if you ask me about my favorite, then I would opt comedy.
Do you want your kids to watch this show?
Yes, in fact I would have loved to take them in the show and act with them. We thought we would keep them for the initial five episodes and later on take a leap. But now the show will not see any leap immediately. Initially I was not convinced to do a show with kids as it becomes a family affair, but now I think they are the best. And talking about watching the show, I would ask them to watch the show because their life is quite secured and they have not faced any unfortunate incidents. But I want to tell them that life can surprise you with anything bad and you should be prepared for it.
Do you select channels according to the concept of your shows?
Yes, I do select channels as per the concept because channels have a priority when it comes to the genre. So whenever I come up with a concept, I schedule those on that particular channel.
Now Behenein has shifted to 6:00 PM slot on Star Plus instead of going off air, do you think it will survive long on the channel?
Behenein is presently doing well and at least for the next two months it is not going anywhere. After that, it depends on the channel because IPL does not spare anyone and apart from that Star Plus too has its policy to bring in fresh shows as hardly any shows work for more than a year. But it does not mean that all those shows which went off air were not doing well. The channel always wants potential in a show to work. Rather I would say, if Behenein loses its potential then even I would like to call off the show and would like to produce some other show.
You always produce fiction, why haven't you tried your hand at non fiction?
I am trying… but I didn't find a great concept that appeals me. I am on for it even today, but none of the concepts seem to click.
How far do you look into the casting of your shows? What is your contribution in it?
I contribute a lot in the casting. How much ever big or small the cast be, I have always seen to it that we rope in good actors in the show and it has been a positive aspect of our production house. Acting and casting is something that is taken more care of. If I do casting of a particular actor, I will know all the weaknesses and strengths of that person. And since I am from theater, I have vast reach for the cast. Casting is the strength of our production house and I take special care of it. You will not believe how my four months have been spent in casting for these kids. My new show was supposed to get launched by 14 February, but I was not getting the exact cast. And time and everything is stalled as even now I am in search of my cast. I have given print ads for casting but my search is still on.
We heard you are coming up with a Khichdi sequel?
Yes, the script for Khichdi sequel is on. Once the script is ready, we will work towards our next film.
Is Sarabhai VS Sarabhai in pipeline to be made into a movie?
You are majorly seen doing shows with Gujarati Backdrop? What's the reason?
No, it's not like that. People have a wrong notion that we only do shows with Gujarati background. Take for example our new show on SAB TV, Mrs. Tendulkar and even Remote Control, they are not shows which are from the Gujarati background. But I will agree that Gujarati backdrop comes to us naturally, so casting for those characters at times becomes easy for us. And it helps me to deal with the culture and tradition easily.
What according to you is the soul of any show?
I would say 'The story' of the show is the soul . As far as the show is well written, it definitely has to go high. For example even after having Hrithik Roshan in the movie, Guzaarish didn't work. Instead of that, even if a new comer is cast with a better script, I bet the movie would work. So story comes first.
What are your plans for 2011?
I am working on two of my films which are in a very much initial stage.
Reporter and Author: Tejashree Bhopatkar