Kamlesh Pandey doesn’t need any introduction. Many of us would remember him as the scriptwriter of films like Tezaab and popular Doordarshan serials like Karamchand. Younger viewers probably know him better as the scriptwriter of Rang De Basanti, Delhi 6 and the recent Aarakshan.
Now, Pandey is making a comeback to the small screen after a hiatus of nearly sixteen years (he headed Zee TV from 1992-95) with an adaptation of one of the most popular and romantic Pakistani serials of the ’80s Dhoop Kinare (the serial is called Kuch To Log Kahenge and it's for Sony). We caught up with Kamlesh Pandey on a recent visit to the capital.
You are finally coming back to the small screen after several years. What took you so long and what do you feel about TV today?
TV is a great medium, in fact, if I may say so; it is a much bigger medium than cinema. The kind of impact that TV has, cinema can never have. However, I am not too keen on the kind of shows that are being shown on various channels today. The saas-bahu serials as well as the reality shows are not my cup of tea at all. If I may say so, the golden age of TV went away with Doordarshan. People still talk about serials like Hum Log, Buniyaad, Tamas and several others. Reality TV on the other hand has definitely helped in discovering new talent but my only problem is that what happens to all those people after they have had their fifteen minutes of fame. I love TV yet I hate it for what it couldn’t be.You are making a comeback with a serial that is an adaptation of perhaps one of the best romantic stories of all times. Will it work?
I feel that due to the saas-bahu genre, romance has completely disappeared from TV. Every serial seems to be like a remake of something else on another channel. And then I saw Bade Achche Lagte Hain and I realised how it was such a different serial. So real and believable. And the TRPs are showing what everybody feels about it. Both Ram and Sakshi are doing a brilliant job. And I’m hopeful that people will really like Kuch To Log Kahenge.
Is the story of Kuch To… a complete lift of Dhoop Kinare or have you made changes? Did you need to take permission from Pakistan TV?
Kuch To. is an adaptation of Dhoop Kinare where I have tried to recreate the same magic by taking a similar storyline and the same characters. Since it will be a daily soap, I have added more characters. As far as permissions were concerned, Haseena Moin, the writer of Dhoop Kinare really made an exception this time and even spoke to Pakistan TV about giving us permission. And I am hoping that just like Dhoop Kinare in the ’80s, Kuch To… will also help to create better ties between India and Pakistan.
What about the lead pair, do you think they can recreate the magic of Dr Ahmer Ansari and Dr Zoya Khan?
From the day that I started to write this serial, I always had Mohnish Bahl in my mind. I really like him as an actor and he is the perfect choice for this role. I would have loved to pick Sakshi for the female lead as I really admire her work also. Unfortunately, we needed a younger girl for this. But I have no regret in picking up Kritika Kamra. I did workshops with both of them to check out their chemistry and comfort levels and Kritika actually surprised me. She delivered the magic and got into the skin of the character without trying to emulate Marina (Zoya) in any way. It will be a treat to watch them together.
Given that TRPs rule over everything else, what are your expectations from the serial and will you be willing to make changes for the sake of TRPs?
Truly, TRPs are everything for channels these days. In fact, I have my own little joke about it that more than any other god or goddess, all channels pray the maximum to TRP Mata to keep them in her good books. Like any other writer who is passionate about his work, I also would want the serial to get maximum TRPs and a big following not just in India but in Pakistan too. Hopefully love will conquer all.