Ready to dream bigger

Telly Director

Ready to dream bigger

 Ambitious: Randeep Mahadik“I wanted to take the UPSC entrance test but failed my final year graduation exams,” says Randeep Mahadik without a tinge of regret. Over the last decade, Randeep has been an assistant to television directors and landed the big gig himself, three years ago. He has directed, among other shows, Mano ya na Mano, Kahaniya Vikram Aur Betal Ki and the recently concluded Colors’ hit Bairi Piya. 

Mahadik hails from a Defense Services background and after his initial professional hopes were dashed, he called on maternal uncle, director Rajesh Ranashinge (CID, Aahat and the upcoming thriller movie Rokk) for inspiration and support. “I was interested in direction and thankfully, my uncle took me on as an assistant,” he says.

But did his army officer father, often perceived as strict disciplinarians, approve? “As an assistant, my schedule was chaotic. I would reach home at 3 am every morning, you can just imagine my family’s reaction,” he chuckles. Eventually, an emotional appeal to his mother, won Randeep their unstinted support. “I told her, ‘If my parents don’t believe in what I do, nobody else will’.” he says.

Rajesh Ranashinge is regarded as a director of mainly thriller and mystery shows. And as his assistant, most of Randeep’s work falls in that category. He was even actively involved in remaking his uncle’s cult 90s show, Vikram aur Betal. As an Ekta Kapoor project, it was renamed Kahaniya Vikram aur Betal Ki, but despite the pre-telecast buzz, the show didn’t burn up the TRP charts. As an episodic, the show was directed by several directors and Randeep says in defense, “For shows with a lot of initial audience interest, producers choose experienced directors and later slash the budget and assign not-so-well-known directors the job. The quality is not the same.” 

Although Randeep has been part of shows that, on Indian television, are regarded as the best in the thriller genre — CID, Aahat and Mano Ya Na Mano — he is a sucker for romance. “Personally, I prefer working on romance but I don’t regret the work I have done so far. In fact, working on thrillers has helped my technical knowledge,” says Mahadik . Don’t blame the director for the tacky special effects we see on Indian shows, he says. “We have such meager budgets, we try and do the best with whatever we get,” and adds sardonically, “It sharpens your ‘creative’ skills.” 

Randeep’s last show Bairi Piya had an unusual storyline — a corrupt landlord lusts after poor farmers’ daughters and gets obsessed with one of them. The show had a huge fan following and was unexpectedly taken off-air this August, a decision by the Colors team, news reports said. “In television, you have to give a host of characters importance to sustain the audience interest but as time went by, the focus was entirely on the two lead characters,” he says and adds, “Now-a-days, there’s too much interference by channels”
Randeep is married to actress Sheetal Dabholkar, whom he met on the sets of Kittu Sab Janti Hai. Mahadik proposed to Sheetal at the Taj Mahal, when they took a break from a shoot in North India. A die-hard romantic, he’s currently directing a love story on Star Plus, Tere Liye. You’d think he must be pretty content but Randeep wants more. He dreams of the big screen, according to him, the ultimate dream for any television director. “It is a great time to do something interesting,” he says enthusiastically. “Everybody’s open to new ideas and newcomers,” says the director who has already met stars like Priyanka Chopra and Imran Khan with his script. 

After nearly a decade, Randeep is willing to forgo the security of television to realise his dream of directing films. “You have to take a risk to make it big,” are his parting words.

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