An upward journey

Ashutosh Gowariker, who has directed films like Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar, is debuting as a producer with the show Everest on Star Plus.

 It will be déjà vu for the director who started his career with a television show called Kachchi Dhoop along with Bhagyashree. Apparently, Everest is the result of a 3-year-long research for Ashutosh.

A television show for Gowariker in a way means a full cycle. So, what was it that attracted him back to the small screen? A candid Gowariker explains the reasons for ending up producing the show, despite wanting to direct it. “As a film director, I have spoiled myself. I wrote the story of Everest and while finishing that I realised I needed experts who can direct the show.”

So, what is this story all about? “This is the story of a dream — conquering Mount Everest. It takes viewers through the entire path of that dream — the different camps at various levels, the first frostbite, the high blood pressure and the entry to the death zone.”

For such a serial, it’s natural that the process of selecting the cast and crew would also be difficult. “The first thing I looked into was the age of the actors and their physical fitness levels. All of them had to go through an altitude test. Because, physically you might be fit, but mentally you may not be that strong in higher altitudes.” Apart from Milind Gunaji and Rajat Kapoor, it is largely a new cast.During the show’s making, the entire cast had to be accompanied by a team of doctors specially trained for mountaineering. The team had to shoot in the difficult terrains of Nepal, Uttarkashi, Pokhran and Jaipur.

The show also has a girl climbing Mount Everest. “We take it for granted that a male will conquer Everest. But through this show I am also trying to create awareness on how determination can help.” 

Mighty challenge

Interestingly, the biggest challenge for Ashutosh Gowariker was not shooting the serial. It was writing the show. Typically, serials get written bit by bit. Feedback from the audience is taken after every episode and TRPs analysed. Only after that is the next twist and turn in the show written. However, for Everest, the entire show was written at one go!

So, what are the shows Ashutosh Gowariker watches? “I love to watch almost anything that goes on in television. I don’t mind the saas-bahu shows at all. But my favourite is Big Boss! I stay glued to my seat during the show. I really love watching the contestants change their personality every now and then.” So, will he participate in the show given an offer? “I would not like to lock myself up.” 

What next for the famed filmmaker? He is set to start work on his next film — Mahenjo Daro, starring Hrithik Roshan and newcomer Pooja Hegde. Gowariker waited three years for Hrithik to say yes.

 “Without Aamir Khan, Lagaan would not have happened. Mohan Bhargav wouldn’t have come alive without Shah Rukh Khan. Without Hrithik, there would be no Jodhaa Akbar. Thus I waited for him.” A R Rahman has composed the title track for the show. Everest will go on air from November on Star Plus. 

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