Filmmaker Ashwini Dhir is making a comeback on television with Star Plus’ latest show, a comic satire on politics, Har Shaakh Pe Ullu Baithaa Hai. The show created, produced and directed by Ashwini, goes on air today.
Har Shaakh... shows a chief minister dealing with common man’s issues such as education, infrastructure, corruption etc while also focusing on rigged elections, MLAs and the foundation of random committees that misuse public money.
The filmmaker known for directing films like Guest Iin London, Son of Sardaar, Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? and One Two Three says that the incidents which have been happening around us for the last 60 years, have inspired him to write Har Shaakh Pe Ullu Baithaa Hai (laughs). “Each and every day we get some new content but earlier we were not able to write about it. Finally a channel has taken the initiative to come forward, so it’s good for me and the writers involved who wanted to put forward their observations,” says Ashwini while promoting the show. He says that the entire political and social system was an inspiration for him.
Talking about the mess that we are in, he says, “We are also at fault because we choose these politicians.”
There isn’t any particular controversy or politician that he has focused on, Ashwini clarifies. “Around 80 to 90 per cent politicians are corrupt. I believe that there are two Constitutions in India, one for the common man and another for the politicians. It feels like the Constitution for the politicians tells them that they can spend the public money because it’s their right. That’s what they do. We feel sad about it but we have become immune. Our tax money is being misused. Having said that, there are a few honest politicians too,” he says, adding that their intention is not to offend anyone.
When it comes to comedy as a genre, Indian television has situational comedy and stand-up shows. Satirical or black comedy is still an untouched genre. Is it because we do not have quality writers or is it because our audiences do not have the sensibilities to understand such genres? “We had Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, which is black comedy in 1983. Even though the film did not work back then, today it’s considered a cult film. There’s no one to write such genres or perhaps people don’t want to write them. Sensibility and sensitivity are both needed while writing,” he says. He adds that the excuse is put out that the audience is not being sensible enough but that’s not the case.
“The films made in 1950s were so good. Today despite people being so educated, we do not have the sensibilities to write. Even romance is restricted to WhatsApp. Sometimes when we want to make such shows (satire), we do not get the support of the channels,”
The filmmaker says that the scene is better on the big screen where we get to watch satires like Jolly LLB or Toilet Ek Prem Katha.
Ask him who plays the biggest role in a comedy show and he says, “No matter which genre it is, the writer is the most important factor. The creativity comes from the writer. Rest is secondary.”
Today, in the age of TRP-driven content on television, Ashwini, who has been associated with television for more than 20 years, says, “It sometimes hurts when we have to compromise on the content for the sake of TRPs. I have done limited work on television and I have focused on doing good work. Sometimes I have also done mistakes when I had kept the channel’s point of view in mind. Whenever I have kept the content as primary, my shows have worked. If your content is strong, you will get the numbers. If high content shows have failed, that’s because it’s not touched the audience’s hearts.”
And is television content becoming regressive? Ashwini admits and says it’s because “most of the writers had come to the industry to become actors but due to lack of work, they became writers. Also they don’t read. Some of the makers and channels want to play safe as the stakes are high. Some have become contractors because they don’t use their brains,” the filmmaker says, hoping that Har Shaakh Pe Ullu Baithaa Hai will be liked by the audience because the content is different.
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Catch Har Shaakh Pe Ullu Baithaa Hai from February 26 at 8 pm from Monday to Friday on Star Plus