The newly-launched channel, Zindagi, by Zee Network is like a breath of fresh air. The subjects chosen by the makers are bold, characters credible and actors natural, particularly the women who seem to belong to our planet.
In comparison, mainstream Indian entertainment channels have been churning out a series of unbelievable soaps, with heavily decked-up and agedefying women. The stories of some of the series begin well but later drift from the issues they had taken up initially.
Glamour-struck creative teams
Indian TV serial producers are so glamour-struck that no one wants to touch anything close to reality. Recently, I was asked why I was not making something like ‘Neem Ka Ped’ that I had made in the ‘90s? I asked him to first get it approved by any channel. Having no clue about the system of working in the Indian entertainment industry, he was a bit disappointed.
Normally, a group called creative team is let loose on the writer and director and they drive them to a point where they would either surrender to the creative team’s wishes or go crazy and quit.
Most girls appearing on Zindagi channel would not pass the “look test” (a futile and farce exercise) on most Indian channels, simply because they look just like girls next door. A belief deeply embedded in the minds of our channel’s creative teams is that only glamour and clothes make a character.
We must have been crazy when Pankaj Kapur was made to wear a sleeveless jacket in ‘Neem Ka Ped’ and was given a worn-out look by scrubbing the floor. Was that jacket the character or the actor’s perfect understanding of the character? The jacket added to the character’s appearance. Nowadays, even a poor man must wear ironed and sparkling costumes. So much so that goddess Parvati must also appear as though she has just walked out of a beauty parlour. I think the makers need to learn a lesson or two from Pakistani serial makers.
Restore DD’s glory
Let us come to stateowned Doordarshan (DD) that actually laid the foundation of Indian TV entertainment with exceptional software and later lost everything to the corporate world. Why did this happen? This question needs to be answered by the government. I had written to former information minister Manish Tiwari saying that if DD wanted it could give all private channels a run for their money. I also hinted about unfair practices prevalent in the approval of proposals.
He was quick to acknowledge the mail, but did not take any step towards cleansing the system. No creative and self respecting filmmaker would like to work for DD under the prevailing conditions, where political connections and unethical means decide approvals. No producer dares to say this in the open for the fear of being blacklisted. Is the new government listening and willing to cleanse DD and bring it back to its old glory?
(The writer is a Patiala based film and TV producer/director. The views expressed are personal.)