TV producer Nivedita Basu talks about motherhood, Pune and emergence of online content
Nivedita Basu is currently enjoying motherhood. The TV producer-director is a proud mother of a two-month-old baby girl. Nivedita, who has worked with Ekta Kapoor on shows like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kasauti Zindagi Kay to name a few, launched her own production house, The House of Originals in 2015. She has since produced a couple of TV shows including Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai and Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi.
We caught up with the lady prior to Symbiosis Sanskrutik Mahotsav where she was felicitated. Excerpts:
How’s motherhood treating you?
(Smiling) I think it’s the most enjoyable phase of my life. Just like I gave my work 100 per cent, I think I should give motherhood 100 per cent too. I know a lot of people, who start working one and a half months after delivery and I don’t disrespect that. But I think this is the formative period for the baby and I will not get to enjoy this again. I’m taking a break and it is also helping me as I’m getting to watch a lot of digital content. I kind of have an idea of what I want to make next. I hope I can balance motherhood and work.
Any projects you have in mind?
Right now, I am working on the project Mommy (laughs). I left Ekta (Kapoor) after 15 years to start my own production. I did a show called Meri Awaz Hi Pehchaan Hai which was Lataji and Ashaji’s story. Film actors like Amrita Rao, Deepti Naval worked with me, making their TV debut with the show. The second one I did was a daily soap called Ek Vivaah... Aisa Bhi. I am going to spend these four-five months with the baby, post that I will be looking at going digital. I’ve done TV for 17 years. Now digital is what I have set my eyes on.
How do you look at the emergence of the digital platform?
See, what happens with TV is, you need a broadcast — you have a concept, then you go to a channel and see if they like it. Digital, for me, is something where I don’t have to be at the mercy of anyone. It can be done on a small scale. You can also create digital content on your mobile phone. Today you put up stuff on YouTube, it goes viral and you’re the next most-talked-about person.
But the problem with digital right now is that nobody knows how to make money out of it. With TV, you go to Star Network, Sony or Zee Network and you tell them about the content you have. They decide the budget to pay you. So there’s some security for the channel as well as you. Today, if I make digital content and put it out, probably you’ll give me money if I’m promoting your products. But how will you make money? There’s always that skepticism.
So when I make online content for my YouTube channel, I always try to keep it very cost-effective. Firstly, because I can only spend how much I have in my pocket and secondly, I don’t know if somebody else is going to put money because they liked the content.
Today, not many would watch an 8 o’clock show on television. But the young generation watches what is viral in the digital space any time — they get a link, they click and start watching. Everything is in their power.
According to me however, online content should become a little more active. In America, people put more money on Netflix than they put on feature films. The trend is shifting to India, but slowly. We’re 5-10 years behind. But we’ll get there.
It’s said that your show Ek Vivaah... Aisa Bhi had to go off air due to low TRPs. It must be quite demotivating for independent actors and producers?
Yes, it is very demotivating for the whole cast and crew — a lot of money is invested and the actors are totally blocked for a year. So when a show suddenly goes off air, they don’t know where to go.
Sadly, the times when shows went on for years, are long gone. I did shows like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi which went on for ten years. Maybe because during that time, there was lack of content and competition. Today, the channels are competing with each other. Also, earlier, channels would support you; people had patience then. Nowadays, the advertisers say, if the channel has less TRPs, they won’t put up their money there. The channel then pressurises the producer. I don’t think it’s a good trend because in the course, the content gets affected.
As for Ek Vivaah... Aisa Bhi, it had a good run, I would say. For today’s time, having a show for nine months on air is a very big deal, because shows get pulled off in two months. Competition is increasing day by day and I don’t think the scene will change anytime soon. As against this, in digital sphere, there’s no pulling of the plug.
Would you share some of your memorable experiences of Pune?
I love Pune. My father was born in Pune and also studied here in his initial years. I too did my PG from Symbiosis here. I remember when I got through the All India Entrance Exam, he said that I must go back to Pune. Pune was one of the best years of my education life. It is a very safe city for women. I come from Delhi which is one of the most unsafe cities.
Back then, Pune had an old world charm. I still want to cherish those good, old memories of Pune. Now, it has become very modern. Today, when I came here, I didn’t even recognise this place.
Symbiosis Society had organised their 24th Sanskrutik Mahotsav which was inaugurated on January 23 at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Museum, Pune. The programme began with Nivedita Basu, an alumni of the college, being awarded the ‘Symbiosis Sanskrutik Puraskar’.
This was followed by Union Minister Ramdas Athawale’s speech. The event struck a chord with Sharmila Tagore, the veteran actress, who remarked, “So far it’s been really lovely because I love Pune. I’ve been here many times. And what I really like about Pune is these lovely trees. I’m glad that they didn’t cut off all of these.”
She then talked about her childhood, her family relations with the great Indian author, Rabindranath Tagore, and her choice of career.