|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, June 1, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
Making TV serials on professional lives
Making TV serials on professional lives
THE maker of highly acclaimed TV serials "Udaan" and "Your Honour" Kavita Choudhry has expressed shock and anger over the alarming rise in female foeticide in Punjab and Haryana.
During her day-long visit to meet her parents in Amritsar recently, the actress told this correspondent that she felt ashamed when she learnt that a large number of female foetuses were being destroyed in Punjab. She pointed out that women had the right to live to their fullest potential and nobody had the right to change the nature’s course.
Talking about herself, Kavita said both she and her sister were brought up by her parents without any gender bias. While she took to TV direction, her sister rose to become an Inspector General of Police, presently posted in Mumbai, and their cousin, Dr Kiran Bedi, became the first IPS woman officer in the country. She felt that like their physically strong male counterparts, they did not lack in any thing to reach to the top in their professions and excel in every field.
Proud of her Punjabi heritage, Kavita said she was keen to do a special TV serial on the revered Sikh Gurus.
Talking about her experience during the making of her gripping TV serial "Udaan" based on the life of a woman police officer in the Mafia belt of up, Kavita said after completing 32 parts of the serial she was in dead surprised to be invited by the IAS academy at Mussorrie to address young probationers on various aspects of public life, especially police officers dealing with criminals and other segments of the society. The most difficult part of making the serial was to do an indepth research about the lifestyle, functioning and idiosyncrasies about those working in police stations.
The current TV serial "Your Honour" being shown on Sony channel has brought into focus the working of our judiciary. Kavita pointed out that Indian film makers and TV producers had not been able to make serials based on the judicial system as had been done by other countries. Although she had been able to do justice to a script, but to show a real life drama in the courts was quite a difficult proposition. She had beamed about five parts and about another 50 were yet to come.
It had been our ardent desire to produce meaningful serials with a clear message on the professionals lives of a particular vocation so that people could appreciate the efforts which had gone into show the reality.
Kavita, who had made a debut as ad film maker with the character "Lalitaji" in the Surf detergent powder ad, has produced a few more commercial advertisement films for Honda Motors, Gujrat Ambuja cement etc. She has also written a number of film scripts, including the one directed by Satish Kaushik Bhadai Ho Bhadai Ho" with the Anil Kapoor and Shilpa Shetty, in the star cast.
Talking about an interesting episode
in her life, she said after the successful telecast of "Udaan"
she was visiting friends in Delhi. A young girl spotted her and said
her role as Kalyani in the serial had changed her parents’ attitude
and they allowed her to join the profession of her choice. Kavita said
she could never imagine that her portrayal as police officer Kalyani
could change the mindset of parents towards their young aspiring
AT one time, when only DD was around, this column had commented that one could not see the men for the women in Akashvani Bhavan. In fact, All India Radio was one of the great emancipators of women, because parents who were against their daughters entering films did not object when their daughters entered the portals of Broadcasting House which was "sarkari" and, therefore, respectable. With the advent of satellite TV, the doors seem to have opened even wider and there seems no field where women have not plunged in with gusto - war, sports, science, serial production, just name it and there they are, women who can specialise with the best of men and even beat them at their own game.
One of the comparatively new and more difficult fields is that of foreign affairs and, indeed the foreign service, where the first woman in the service, Ms Muthiah had to go to court to assert the rights of women officers and such outstanding women as Mira Sinha, the China expert, had to resign because married women were taboo. And now we have a woman foreign secretary and I can hardly name a national daily, at least in English, which does not have a woman writing on foreign affairs. And from the print media, we now have women shining on radio and TV, covering from abroad with the rest of the press when one of our leaders goes visiting, interviewing foreign leaders in various fields and acting with the highest professional standards.
The latest very new recruit in this field, and she came from print journalism, is Swati Chaturvedi of Zee News, who beat the rest of the media to it by landing up quietly in Bangkok with a cameraman, to cover Indian negotiator Padmanadhiah’s talks with Naga rebel leader T.H. Muivah. Ordinary Indians as well as some of our so-called political experts know far less about the North-East than they do about Kashmir, which hogs the limelight although the North-East, in some ways, is even more inflammable. Swati had known Mr Padmanadhiah from her print days and had also met the Naga leader briefly. She cashed in on this advantage, lined up her questions for Muviah with insight and courage, resulting in a first-rate interview, an exclusive which, in legal language, turned out to be the rarest of the rare, because Mr Muviah did not mince words, spoke with well-reasoned arguments as well as passion and in some ways left one shattered when one heard the other point of view. I hope our foreign office will see it and that Zee will repeat the telecast which is an eye-opener in many ways. Shabash, Swati!
There has been a lot of hype about the two-hour documentary on Pearl Harbour, Disney’s latest, shown by National Geographic and one cannot deny that it is a painstaking job put together with skill. All sorts of sources have been tapped, actuality footage from American as well as Japanese archives showing the awesome dimensions as well as the element of surprise in the Japanese attack, interviews with veterans who saw their comrades being killed but survived, moving accounts with some of them in tears, in short, a programme well worth watching for its historical as well as human values. However, reports from the USA have indicated that it did not create the anticipated box-office records and from Japan that it has left the Japanese cold as well as been largely ignored both at cinemas and in the media. This is understandable because, naturally this is very much the American point of view and humiliating for the Japanese and there can be more than one opinion on some of the points it makes. But still, very much worth watching for its technical and production values.
CNN’s Style South Asia (one of its
answers to the BBC) has largely remained Style West India and
occasionally Delhi. And notwithstanding Mallika Sarabhai’s
delectable anchoring, not quite setting the TV screen on fire.
However, last week’s item on the Kuchipudi dancers Radha and Raja
Reddy proved to be fascinating, because Raja Reddy, who has two wives,
sisters to boot, gave us a cheerful and wonderfully frank insight into
what can be called wife-management in this literal menage-a-trois.
"If I dance with one wife, the other gets jealous, so when that
happens, all three of us dance together." And the two wives take
turns at dancing and stage management. No mean feat and I am sure they
will live happily ever after.
AT the age of five to have a clear mind as to what one would enjoy doing most is surprising indeed. But then a star-to-be does carry this distinguishing streak of dedication and articulation even when he might not know how to spell them correctly! A man of sincerity, focus towards his art and a Shravan Kumar to his parents is how one chooses to introduce the talented Abhinav Chaturvedi. His claim to fame being the memorable character of ‘Nanhe’ in the Doordarshan serial Hum Log. A theatre enthusiast with a passion for "gaayiki", Abhinav remains in the hearts of many as the adorable charmer and new kid-on-the-block of the television era of the 1980s. A role that he got accidentally after having failed the audition test.
With utmost modesty and a flair for talking, Abhinav shares some of his experiences as an actor who believes in the motto of "live it up"!
How were you lured into dramatics and performing arts?
"As a child I used to park myself across the street in a house where NSD artistes conducted theatre workshops. My first encounter was when late Om Shivpuri’s theatre troupe, Dishantar, picked me up for one of their productions. I guess my experiments with mimicry at home and also being a good listener paid off really well because this was the beginning of a tremendous roller coaster ride in terms of a career in acting."
Did the actor in you begin to surface during your school years or later?
"To be honest I was not much of a theatre buff at Modern School, but I certainly held sway over an audience of 2000 with my mimicry skills. Being the only child of my parents and coming from an academic background (parents were in school teaching curriculum), I never consciously entertained the idea of choosing a profession in acting. On the contrary, I was deeply involved with playing cricket and thought very seriously of making that a career."
How did Nanhe of "Hum Log" happen?
"It was my father’s persuasion to apply again after I had been rejected by Doordarshan in 1982-83. Coupled with this was the fact that Manohar Shyam Joshi’s kids had witnessed one of my mimicry shows in school and told their father (who was at that time on the lookout for an artiste to play the character of Nanhe) about a ‘clown they had in their school! In April, 1984 the scheduled rehearsals began and the rest of the cliche goes is history."
What followed the post ‘Hum Log’ phase?
"In 1985, after having basked, with the Almighty’s grace, enough in the phenomenal glory of what might now be seen as Doordarshan’s mega success story, ‘Hum Log’, I had taken admission in St Stephen’s College to do majors in history. It was during my college years that expected offers from Bollywood began, so Kochh to karna hi thaa! At 21 I got the opportunity of working with Ramesh Sippy Sahib who wanted me in ‘Buniyaad’, the next blockbuster for the small screen.
How was this different from ‘Hum Log’?
"Well, for one the ‘big time’ game in Bollywood has its own set of norms that are widely different from those one experiences in the Delhi. Personally, it was a brilliant opportunity for me to have been able to work with a director par excellence as Ramesh Sahib. Here, I equipped myself with the technical side of acting. He was superb with giving subtle tips on laws of acting, a smooth and thoroughly relaxed person to work with. Yes, Bombay taught me a lot."
What compelled the shift from acting to a career in documentaries and corporate film-making which your own production house is currently doing?
"Vivek Vaswani’s ‘Nai Dishayen’ and Raman’s film (my first feature film in a lead role) ‘Parbat Ke Us Paar’ can be termed as my initiations into the mainstream acting graph. What followed were movies like ‘Yodha’ with Sanjay Dutt, ‘Jeevan Ek Sangharsh’ with Rahul Rawail, and, of course ‘Saudagar’ with Ghai Sahib. Right at this juncture my turning point came as I had to rush back home because my father had been taken seriously ill and I never returned to Bombay after that. My luck that in 1992 Zee TV happened, so while in Delhi I began work again in the field, I settled down in ‘grihasth’ ashram in 1993. My wife Nandini and I have two wonderful children, with whom I spend all my time once I am at home in the evenings."
Do you regret not enhancing your chances at Bollywood and opting out for advertising in spite of everything than any aspiring star could ask for ?
"I am a very clear person when it comes to priorities and basic responsibility that an Indian child has towards his parents. They do so much unconditionally, the least I can do as their only support and hope is to be there when they need me the most and make them happy. Life for me comes in a package of ‘khushaal parivar’! Yes, one happy family is the image of Abhinav the anchor, actor and chief production executive."
PANAH (Magnasound): When American Black music is mixed with a Sufi feel, a strange amalgam develops. This album has that in good measure. In fact, it has a bit of everything from rock to pop to R&B, country, rap, gypsy, trance and Indian film music.
The singer is Nandini Srikar, who is basically a musician and has started her vocal career only recently. She is India’s first woman sessions guitar player having played the 12-string guitar on albums like Hariharan’s "Kaash" and Shaan’s "Tanha Dil". She has collaborated with Trilok Gurtu and Aally Badarou of Level 42 on a world music album.
Music is by Mahmood Khan who has spent 15 years working in the music studios of Los Angeles. His album, "Only One" featuring the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had become an instant hit and was played by over 250 radio stations across the USA.
The album is titled "Panah", which means sanctuary or refuge, but most of the songs reflect the concept of search and struggle. Mahmood is the writer, sound engineer and producer. The simple lyrics have the pretensions of being philosophical. Mahmood speaks of the emotions of a mother trying to fill in the spaces that a father’s absence causes in a child’s life (Is pyaar mein …) or of God’s existence.
What matters most is that both music and the vocals are so very different from the run-of-the-mill stuff.
MUJHE KUCCH KEHNA HAI (Tips): The launch of a new big star generally requires giving the break to a new singer also. For the debut film of Tusshar Kapoor (the second "s" in the name is for luck), Jeetendra’s handsome son, the man with the mike is KK, who gets to sing the title song and one more number, Pyar re, dil mange pyar re …. Both are exceptionally long songs, running into over seven minutes each.
The music of Jabse dekha hai tere haath ka chand… is similar to an earlier hit, O jaane jaana, dhoonde tujhe deewana…. You can never change Anu Malik, it seems. It has been sung first by Alka Yagnik and Babul Supriyo and then by Alka solo. Similarly Mera mann dole mera tann dole … by Anuradha Sriram seems "inspired" by songs like Mujhe mast mahaul mein jeene de ….
Babul also sings Maine koi jaadu nahin kiya … with Preeti and Pinky.
Sonu Nigam is low-key in Guncha hai gul hai …, which is rather a variation of the title song. But he is in his element in Rabba mere Rabba ….
Lyrics are by Sameer.
PAAGALPAN (Tips): This film introduces the pair Karan and Aarti. Small wonder that there are several fresh singers. Even music director Raju Singh is rather a newcomer.
Raju gets the best work out of unestablished voices like Raymond George and Shradha Pandit, who do a good job in the title song. Harvard, Javed Ali and Vicky pair up with Udit Narayan and Sunidhi Chauhan in A ding-dang-do .… while Swastika gives a good account of herself in Loota ….
Established singers like Alka Yagnik
and Kumar Sanu confine themselves to the expected style. Sameer talks
of college canteen and teenage love in most of the songs.