Not into the tried and tested

Not into the tried and tested

Telly director

Not into the tried and tested

 One of the most well-written and directed shows till date, it went on for 80 episodes in the first season. And mind you, at that time, we still hadn’t entered the era where decade-long soap operas were a common sight. Such was its popularity that till a few years ago, one could still see the show’s reruns being telecast. It was through this show that Nupur Asthana catapulted to stardom. While actors like Nilanjana Sharma, Rushad Rana, Vishal Malhotra, were key to the success of the show, it was Asthana’s story that was the real hero. The ace scriptwriter is now basking in the glory of her other directorial success — Yash Raj Films’ television show Mahi Way.

“It really feels nice to see people still talking about something that I wrote more than a decade back. More so, because it has been a decade where we have seen so many changes in a youngster’s life. Even today, people write blogs about it and request for reruns!” says Asthana. The writer-director is part of the old brigade who moved to the entertainment industry after a stint in theatre. “During my childhood, I travelled all across the country and studied in different schools. I graduated from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi, wherein I got introduced to theatre — as an actress as well as a director. Before I realised, I was hooked on to stage performances and there was no other career option, but directing that I aspired to take up,” reminisces Asthana.

As a natural step forward, she moved to Mumbai. “I enrolled in a mass communication course at Sophiya College. Once that was done, I started assisting Ketan Mehta for the film Aar Ya Paar.” The newest filmmaker in Bollywood had arrived. Asthana went on to assist Mehta for more than a couple of years and prepared herself to face the battle alone. “Hip Hip Hurray was my debut as an independent director and author and I never expected it to become the cult serial it was. After that I also did Hubahu – another serial for Sony, which became a hit,” explains Asthana.

She admits that she is not the kind who can work on a number of things simultaneously; she does not want to be a part of the rat race. “That’s why you will see me taking up projects once in every three-four years. After Hubahu, I did consider making a film as I had a few scripts ready. But funding it was an issue and the project never materialised,” says Asthana. In fact, for one particular script there was a lot of progress and she was signed up by a big corporate movie house. “At the last moment, things did not work out. I was quite dejected,” says Asthana.

While Yash Raj Films was looking out for a director to handle their new show Mahi Way, Nupur Asthana was looking for work. The two met and the result is one of the most discussed serials of today. “When I got the script, I got so engrossed that I read all the 26 episodes in one sitting. Somewhere I could connect with the storyline. It was as if the writer knew me and was writing about me. But the show it is not just about me or about a few women alone; ask any woman who watches the serial. She will feel that this show is written keeping her life story in mind. That’s the connection the show has established with its viewers. It has been a fascinating experience working with the Yash Raj team for Mahi Way,” says the writer-director.

 Mahi Way talks about the life and story of an overweight woman and has been in the news recently for showcasing the leading lady Mahi in a swimming costume. Considering the fact that Mahi does not have a figure to show off, this was quite a bold move. But Asthana took it in her stride. Rumours are that the show is going off air. Ask Asthana about it and she will respond with a smile. “There are a number of online petitions asking us to extend the serial. God knows what exactly is going to happen, but let me tell you this — Mahi is not going to disappoint her fans!” Nupur’s ultimate dream is to direct a film sometime in future.