‘I am just going back to my first love’
Director and art designer Omung Kumar talks about judging and mentoring on India’s Best Dramebaaz and designing the set of IIFA
Omung Kumar has made a comeback on television after a decade and half. The director is one of the judges and mentors on Zee TV’s reality show India’s Best Dramebaaz, along with Vivek Oberoi and Huma Qureshi. Not many would remember that Omung had started his television career with the same channel as a host of the popular show Ek Minute, which aired 25 years back. So how much has the content on television changed over the years, we ask and he says that he hasn’t noticed much change. “Twentyfive years ago, no one knew about multi camera set up but we started it with Ek Minute. We had a colourful and funky set up. Having said that, today, the reality TV bit has come in while serials are there since a long time. So it’s a full circle for the industry.
Every channel has gone to every nook and corner of the country. In the past, people used to write us letters sharing their wish to participate and now technology has come in, so there is lot more awareness.”
He adds that because of reality shows, one can enter the houses of the common people. “We get to see the back story of the contestants who have performed well. We kind of relive their dreams, which is good,” he says.
The Mary Kom director sounds excited to be back on Zee TV and says that he has been associated with the channel for 25 years. “Ek Minute ran for 12 years. When I was offered a reality show which is not music or dance but acting, which I am passionate about, I agreed to do it. I am just going back to my first love,” he says while promoting the show.
The filmmaker is highly impressed with the talent on the show and says, “The kids are so brilliant. I have watched the previous seasons, and noticed the sincerity of the show. Kids are becoming so mature because of the media and internet. They are learning things from a very young age. A four-year-old remembers a four page act and dialogues. They are not scared; they are confident. We couldn’t do the same thing when we were of their age.”
There is a constant debate on how children are losing their innocence because of reality shows. Either the children or parents want a chance to appear on television and in the process, ignore their studies and childhood. Many believe that there should be a certain age after which kids will appear on television. “I agree with that, so does the channel and production. If the kids want to come and the parents are not pushing them, that’s when we select them. We get to know if the child is interested or not in participating in the show. In case they are forced, we straightaway tell the parents, ‘Let them grow and then come back but don’t push your dreams on them’. But when we see a child perform with enthusiasm, we select the child,” says the director who himself started off acting at the age of four. “We keep their studies in mind and also ensure that we do not burden them so much that they break down,” he adds.
Omung, who is also a well-known art director, has designed the set of International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA 2018) for the 10th year. He says that it’s a different kind of set design compared to other award ceremonies. “While designing the set, we dedicate the set to the country where we are hosting the show. I have to see how I can take inspiration from that country and put it in my design. While designing the set in Bangkok, we have taken a few cultural elements of that country in my designs. I have to take care of the background detailing in the presentation area,” he adds before signing off.