'Fiction shows are here to stay'
He and his brother, Niret Alva have produced some of Indian telly's popular shows. Fame Gurukul, Sara Akaash, Living On The Edge to name some. Nandan Kini chats up Miditech CEO Nikhil Alva on reality TV, documentaries and his politician mom.
First of all, this documentary on the Mega Floods, how did it come about?
Well, National Geographic has had this show on mega disasters on for quite a while now. And we felt that the story of the Mumbai floods needed to be told, especially since it happened just a month before Hurricane Katrina.
Speaking of July 26, where were you on that day?
What's next in the pipeline?
There are several documentaries in the production stage right now. They are based on cyclones, earthquakes, HIV in India and leopards.
Miditech is also into fiction, right?
Yes, one of our shows, Parrivar is currently airing on Zee TV. We're also developing a primetime drama for Star One.
Do you think at some point, reality TV will take over fictional shows? No, I don't see that happening. Every format of television has its space. As long as there are stories to be told, soaps will have takers.
Every time a reality show goes on air, there are accusations that everything is staged and nothing is for real. What do you have to say about that?
It is as real as it gets, it isn't scripted. What we do create is the environment. If someone takes two diametrically opposite people and locks them in a room together, sparks will fly.
Basically, a good reality TV producer puts together the right sort of environment to let the drama unfold by itself.
What do you think will be the next big thing in the reality genre?
Well, makeover shows seem to be the hot thing in the West right now, while talent shows are big here.
We're working on a makeover show ourselves, so that might be the next big thing. Miditech hasn't been a part of the MTV Roadies series for a while now.
Why did that happen?
There were internal reasons. We did the first three seasons of Roadies, while MTV handled the recent season themselves. Internal compulsions meant that we had to move on to doing other things.
You and your brothers live in different cities.. how do you manage to coordinate and work together?
Yeah.. that's true, my elder brother and I live in Delhi while our younger brother is in Bangalore.
In any case, we've been working together for a really long time now, so our creative processes work in tandem regardless of whether we're in the same city or not.
Lastly, your mother, Margaret Alva, is a popular figure in the political setup. Does she ever advise you on your work?
No, not really. She's got her own life to lead, and her own work to look after. She does reflect on our work as a viewer and we do appreciate that; but creatively, we're quite independent of her.