‘Every six months there is a new star on TV’

Debarati Palit Singh
Friday, 11 May 2018

Writer-producer Saurabh Tewari gets candid about how stories on television only revolve around weddings and families and how it’s becoming difficult to create content for TV while promoting his new show — Krishna Chali London

Saurabh Tiwari is known for creating hit content on television. His shows are not only out-of-the-box but they also connect with the masses. The producer-writer is back on Star Plus with a story of a 21-year-old boy who dreams of getting married. The show titled Krishna Chali London, starring Gaurav Sareen, will go on air on May 21. 

Saurabh says that the idea was conceived seven years back and is inspired by a real character from his family. “The tonality of the show is very real and rooted, hence hoping that viewers can relate to the story. While the show has a high entertainment quotient and freshness in terms of its narrative, it has a subtle message in its core thought which will make it more relatable for the audience,” he says. He tells us more about it: 

Most of Indian television shows revolve around female protagonists. Was it a challenge to push a story revolving around a male protagonist?
It was definitely a challenge. When the audience gets a variety of 50-60 shows, it becomes a challenge for us, as makers, to think what new we can offer. That’s why we focus on creating innovative content, something that the audience hasn’t watched before. Coming to Krishna Chali London, we thought that whenever we talk about weddings, it always revolves around a girl. We decided to present the story from a boy’s perspective and it looked fresh to us. 

Stories on television mostly revolve around weddings and families? Can’t we think beyond it?
Why just television, last year, we saw so many films like Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and so on revolving around marriage. That said, every medium has its strengths and limitations. Television, by and large, is a family medium. It isn’t a digital space for which you can just pick up your mobile phone, go to your room and start watching content. Even today most Indian homes have either one or two television sets which means the entire family is watching the content together. So we cannot show anything that will embarrass or make them uncomfortable. While watching films, you have the liberty to watch it alone or with people you are comfortable with, so the makers can experiment. That’s why doing television is the toughest thing today — you have to create innovative content within the given circle.  

In a recent interview you had said, ‘Desi stars don’t make a TV show, the writer is the real hero’. But on television, there is a dearth of good writing. 
I strongly believe that it’s writers who make a TV show. We have lots of writers but the problem is on three levels. Every six months, there is a new star on TV but that’s not the case with films. Salman Khan was and is still a star. Sometimes the script of a Salman film may not be up to the mark, but his film still makes Rs 100 crore. The shelf life of TV stars is limited and no one can be blamed for that. Coming to writers, first there is the issue of demand and supply. How do we create good writers as we cannot create them overnight?

Secondly, for films, a writer gets six to eights months to write a three-hour film but writers here write five episodes in a week. They write for a year after which they automatically get burnt out. Finally, we cannot crack the model of finite shows. Fox example, my show Mahek is on for two years and I am not ashamed to accept the fact that its original story got over a year back. How much can we keep pushing the story? However, because of the demand, good TRPs and the show offering jobs to 100 families, we cannot shut it. If we are creating 10 writers, there is a demand for 30. When people come to Mumbai to join the film industry, 70 per cent have the aim of becoming an actor. How many want to be writers?  

Isn’t it time the makers realised that not all shows are made for television, that they should also concentrate on making content for web? 
Many of us are getting into it but what is happening is that the commercial aspect of the web is not working for us. It takes us months to work on web content but the returns aren’t great. I did a web series last year for Voot and as the market will grow, we will get into it. Everyone will get into every medium. 

With the audience becoming so unpredictable, how difficult has it become to make content for TV?  
It’s very difficult because earlier, TV shows ran for years. We used to get time to set up the story and work on the story and characters. Today, by the end of fourth or seventh week, if a show will work or not is declared. After 15th week, it’s decided if it will go off air or not. I was reading somewhere that after IPL gets over, 12 shows will go off air and some of them haven’t completed a year. This is a concerning issue because when a show goes off air, it’s a financial loss to the producer and broadcaster. The  level of patience of audience has gone down and we can’t do anything about it.  

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