Dethroning the 'queen'


Rajan ShahiIt was not easy to dethrone Ekta Kapoor from the position she occupied a year or two back. She was the uncrowned queen of Indian television and anything and everything she touched turned into gold. It was impossible to get even close to the pedestal where she was resting.

 It was foolish, if not suicidal to try anything other than saas bahu soaps on Indian television because nothing else succeeded.  And, it was impossible to have a successful show without having at least one of the K-serial (Kyun Ki, Kaahani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kaahin To Hoga etc) actors. Because, they were equated with high TRPs and successful serials, and new names had to be supplemented by them in a show.

But Rajan Shahi, director-turned-producer, went against all these unwritten laws of Indian television and managed to turn the tides in his favour. Today, not only is he given a lion’s share of the credit for helping the Indian television move beyond the saas-bahu genre, but also applauded for bringing new faces like Parul Chauhan, Sara Khan and Angad Hasija into the limelight. If Ekta Kapoor gave Indian television characters like Mihir, Tulsi, Om and Parvati, Shahi has given them Ragini (Parul Chauhan), Naitik (Karan Mehera), Alekh (Angad Hasija) and Sadhana (Sara Khan).

All of his shows — Bidaai, and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai are amongst the top five in the TRP charts and broadcasters are running after him and his production company — Director’s Kut — to have his shows telecast in their channels.

“I do not believe in the assembly-line concept of serials. If I wanted to, I could have done six serials in parallel. But I am a firm believer in quality and not quantity, thus I want to focus on the two or three shows I am doing and ensure that I give good stuff to my viewers,” says Shahi when asked about why there are only three shows from his production house, while other relatively unsuccessful companies have more than that.

What’s so special?
So what is it that makes him so special and ahead of the rest? “I follow only one rule, which is also the philosophy of Director’s Kut — Do your best, your very best and do it every day,” says Shahi who started his company barely a year and a half back and is already in a domineering position in the Indian television industry. He had started his career as a director and had made shows like Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin and Mamta.

QUEEN OF SOAPS: Ekta Kapoor, seen here with her father Jeetendra, on her own turf.Since all his shows are at the zenith of popularity, will they also run for years like their saas bahu predecessors? Shahi becomes serious while answering this question, “Definitely not. I firmly believe that every show and story has a life span. The moment you overshoot it, your problems start. I don’t want my shows to continue for six or seven years just for the sake of it. They will come to an end when the story demands so.”

The producer who has been credited for bringing the saas bahu genre to an end and giving a fresh lease of life to the television industry, has hit the jackpot again with his new show Maat Pitah Ke Charnon Mein Swarg on Colors. “The whole concept of this show is very different from the other serials. The storyline revolves around the male protagonist and not the female lead. This itself is a big change since most of our television serials revolve around a central female character. In fact, after I announced this show, I got a call from a big producer in the television industry. He wanted to congratulate me for the step I had taken in having a serial’s story revolve around the male protagonist,” says Shahi.

The show is being touted as an adaptation of Ramayan and has known actors like Pracheen Chauhan, Yatin Karekar, Amardeep Jha. Like his earlier shows, Shahi has also launched two new faces in Swarg — Nikhil chaddha and Dheeraj Dhoopar.  “This serial will make all of us sit back and think about how important parents are in our lives. When we grow up, we get so busy with our work that we forget the role that our parents have played and continue to play in our life. Even in my life, I have realised how busy I have become over the last few years, and how little time I have been able to spend with my parents. This show will help us change that and make us realise the true value of parents in our life,” explains Shahi.

“The idea of this show came up during a discussion I was having with Sourabh Tiwari, the creative head of Colors. He thought of the initial concept and together we developed the idea. Swarg is a perfect example of harmony between the broadcaster and the producer,” he adds.

Let’s hope he continues to maintain the balance between quality and quantity and not get drawn into the numbers game as happens with most success stories.

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