Fresher scripts get approved on television channels - but guess who gives the green signal?
A clutch of creative heads from different TV channels are giving green signal to fresher ideas and concepts. We take a look at these creative heads who are largely responsible for giving us all the masala on TV
ASHISH PATIL, VP, PROGRAMMING, MTV:
I can’t believe I get paid to do all this rubbish,” quips Ashish Patil, while I hear his three-and-a-half-year old toddler screaming for his attention. Patil, vice president, programming, MTV, who joined the company 10 years ago, says, “We have a razor sharp focus that comes with thorough research.”
Patil’s innings at MTV has ensured that he is conscious of not just the success but also the mistakes that the channel has committed. “We messed up when we tied up with Ekta Kapoor for a serial targeted at youngsters. The first eight weeks were great and then it was disastrous,” he admits. “Kids today,” he thinks aloud, “can smell shit from far away.”
A pucca Mumbaikar, Patil finished his business studies from Mumbai, joined an advertising agency but switched from marketing to content planning. MTV came along in 1998 and here too he shifted to developing shows for the channel.
Patil also shares a little secret: “I keep a notebook with me before I go to sleep. Trust me to wake up at 3 am and jot down an idea!” It’s thanks to his mind constantly ticking for MTV that programmes like Semi Girebal, that hilarious spoof on a popular talk show, and Roadies, are being watched by thousands of youngsters. Another show, Lost in Translation, where team MTV makes up cheeky subtitles of regional songs, was the result of a Youtube link that Patil had seen. “Roadies happened as a result of a client briefing,” he laughs.
It’s tough to imagine how Patil squeezes so much in a single day, especially because his interests are varied. A self-confessed fan of graphic novels, Patil has a huge collection of Batman comics. Reading the latest Batman that’s set in India — “it has Batman going everywhere, from Pune to Agra’s Taj Mahal” — Patil says that he usually reads three books in one go. Oh, he’s also a self-confessed shopper who begins his day by visiting the neighbourhood temple.
With his son, Patil says he’s rediscovering the joys of painting and sketching, something that he did years ago. Often described as a hopeless optimist and a dreamer by his family and colleagues, Patil’s a “Roadie” too; only, his destination continues to be MTV.
SHAILJA KEJRIWAL, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, CONTENT, NDTV IMAGINE
Born and brought up in Kolkata, Shailja Kejriwal shifted to Mumbai in 1998. With a degree in literature from Jadhavpur University, Kejriwal’s creative bent of mind has always been ticking. “It gives me a high to get viewers’ reactions to our programming,” she says. On an average, NDTV Imagine announces and launches new shows every five-six weeks. “When we feel that a show is dragging, we don’t hesitate to end it,” she ensures.
With a great team and professional interaction with Sameer Nair on a day-to-day basis, Kejriwal jokes that her own life is very boring. Her life in Mumbai begins with a quick breakfast and most of her office schedules get fixed over the phone while she’s busy commuting in Mumbai traffic jams.
The channel’s Ramayana is a big hit — the serial’s on-screen Ram and Sita were even invited to different homes to light lamps for Diwali 2008 — and prompted mythological serials to start on other channels too. For someone who began her career by writing short films for children and making documentaries for Doordarshan, Kejriwal worked in Star Plus for nine long years. A travel enthusiast — her last three vacations have been to Greece, Egypt and Vienna — Kejriwal takes at least 10 days off from work to travel.
ASHVINI YARDI, VICE PRESIDENT, PROGRAMMING, COLORS
Despite its unprecedented success in such a short span of time, experts wonder how long the TRP party will last for Colors. But for now the credit of its “pull factor” goes, if not single-handedly then largely, to Ashvini Yardi, who, with her wealth of experience of 14 years at Zee TV, has tasted failure and success.
As someone who gave the green signal to critically appreciated shows like Tara, Hasratein, Sailaab and Astitva, to name a few, Yardi, whose circle of close friends include soap queen Ekta Kapoor, admits that many such shows, despite critical acclaim, didn’t quite click with the masses. “The definition of a good show is different in metros and bigger cities and completely alag (different) in a smaller towns and villages,” she says.
So she looked at Saat Phere, a story that was inspired by Yardi’s own domestic help who struggled with her dark complexion. That serial put the channel right on top, giving it not just its lustre but also TRPs.
A mother of a four-and-a-half-year-old son, Yardi joined Colors in August 2008 and approved its trump-card show Balika Vadhu two weeks before she joined the organisation. She says that her work life is a “party”, one where she looks forward to going to every single day. But didn’t she think of it as a challenge, joining a brand new channel while leaving an established one, especially after it was at the top? “You cannot give viewers the same thing again and again and again,” she says, adding, “There’s always room for new talent and fresh ideas.”
There’s nothing too great about her life, she says. “I love returning home to my little one and weekends with him are sacrosanct.”
SHALINI SETHI, HEAD OF PROGRAMMING, BINDAAS
You can almost hear the tinkle and the energy in her voice. Shalini Sethi, head of programming, Bindaas, is battling a nasty cold after a break in Switzerland. “I’ve just come on Facebook and my ‘status’ there reads: “Shalini Sethi is missing the travels,” she laughs. Having worked with Deepa Mehta on Earth-1947, Sethi dreams of producing films some day. “I already have pacts with some friends who say that the day they’ll be ready, I’ll produce their films,” she says. Sethi says that her shift to a brand new youth channel was because she found it challenging to keep up with the demands of the younger generation.
“The generation gap is now five years, and not 10-15 years, so you can imagine the trend-spotting we need to do continuously. The channel’s reality game show Dadagiri, which helped Bindaas to reach the number one slot in the youth/children’s channels, has been under the scanner for its harsh lingo but continues to have its fair share of faithful fans. “The concept of the show stems from college ragging,” she says, explaining that the show tests the willingness of the participants to succeed despite all odds.
Having worked on travel and talk shows, Sethi is candid about her other interests. Besides traveling, she admits to reading gossip magazines and getting together with her close bunch of friends for chat sessions. She often takes off on short trips, even if for four-five days. Two months ago, for instance, Sethi took off to Jordon for a four-day trip. “The Dead Sea was amazing.”
For now Sethi’s back in Mumbai following a rigorous routine; leaving at 9 am for work and returning back by 9.30 pm. In the interim, she’s already planning ahead for Bindaas and her next vacation.
7 months ago