EXCLUSIVE: Is Television regressive? Balaji’s VP Tanusri on creative difference while working on web and TV

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In a candid chat with Pinkvilla, Tanusri Das Gupta of Balaji Telefilms’ Vice President opens up on resuming shoot post lockdown, the challenges they have faced, the creative difference while working on both the mediums and if television is slightly regressive when it comes to its content.

There is no doubt that Balaji Telefilms have redefined daily soaps trend on Indian Television. With Kumkum Bhagya and Kundali Bhagya leading the pack like no one else, Balaji Telefilms Vice President Tanusri Das Gupta speaks to Pinkvilla exclusively. Tanusri recently recovered after testing COVID 19 positive and is already back to her hectic schedule. Being associated with Balaji for many years now, Tanusri heads the television and the web department. In a candid chat with Pinkvilla, Tanusri opens up on resuming shoot post lockdown, the challenges they have faced, the creative difference while working on both the mediums and if television is slightly regressive when it comes to its content. 

Excerpts from the interview below:

Post lockdown, there are obviously some challenges that you’ll face. Does the pandemic situation continue to be a reason to fear?

The thing is that the show has been going on. We have all resumed with all possible precautions. There is obvious fear which is there globally. It is not just us and there is of course this understanding that if someone doesn’t want to come out and work, then we have to be understanding about it. Because it is everyone’s personal choice right now and we can’t force anybody and we should not force anyone. So we have been taking care of all of that. 

We have shot from home quite a bit actually. Yes, it is difficult to maintain the quality sometimes but at the same time, whatever needs to be done needs to be done. We are following all protocols imperatively. 

Also Read: EXCLUSIVE: Ekta Kapoor on her journey of motherhood: I had a calling for a long time, stored my eggs at 36

What has been the biggest challenge?

Post lockdown, coming back with the shows when a lot of people moved away from the TV, and get the audiences back is a very tough job. It is not just the launch of shows, it is launching of the channel but everybody planned for it. Good thing is that when we got to know we are going on floors, we had time to work on the script, we made the first few episodes really exciting. It is like launching a new show. Everything that goes behind launching a new show, we never took it for granted. We have revamped everything and then we came. 

Also, shooting wise too before we began shooting, once the guidelines came, we had a month in between, so restructuring of sets, if we would shoot 4 shows at one location, we changed it to two, everybody is distanced out. All of these separations we had time to do. Script wise, obviously we have just come in, some shows have done well, some haven’t. Kundali and Kumkum we are blessed with. We are doing what needs to be done. We are now mapping what audiences are liking post-COVID. A lot of people’s tastes have changed, many are looked to Mahabharat, Ramayan they are doing so well. These are learnings for us too. I mean we are mapping what is happening and what is not happening and changing accordingly. It is a process. 

TV has resumed successfully. What about web shows?

Web shows take a little more time because the process is different, we shoot in real locations, outdoors, it is a lot more difficult. We have also gone on floors with two of our web shows, we are taking it slowly but it is in process. In September, we have planned to shoot a couple of web shows. Maybe we will go to a town and stay there and shoot it like that and comeback. And of course, the bigger ones will go on floors a little later because we don’t want to hurry. They need to be a little more planned. It is of course a little tricky than TV. 

On web shows, we work as we do in movies, right? Everything needs to be planned, the budget, everything mapped, storyboarding, planning, because you are shooting on real location with actors who are professional. Planning of web show is different and once we have everything approved at all levels, is only when we go on floors. On TV, there is scope for changes once the show goes on the floors. So that way it is different. 

TV is also very TRP driven. We hear scripts change depending on the Trp… what are the creative difference while working on TV and web?

Not every time. Obviously, if you go on the floors with a conviction, you wait for some time for the drama to work irrespective of the TRP. Sometimes it really pays off. There are many shows which have taken 4-5 weeks to pick up. Like Yeh Hai Mohabbatein but yes, the creative process is different in both mediums. But TV is measured. We know we are catering to a certain audience and we have a mapping of them. Every week we have TRP, we have research work, so obviously there is planning which goes into it. Creatively there are things you can do and can’t do. 

As far as the web is concerned, there is obviously an abundance of freedom. We can push the envelope and as a creative person, it is far more exciting and can break all barriers. On TV, obviously it is family viewing, web the audience is scattered. There is a variety of things you can do on the web, TV is obviously a little more mapped. That is where the difference comes in terms of creativity because we know we cater to a certain audience. On the web, you can put anything in the universe and you know it will find some audience. On ALT, we have a plethora of shows, which caters to all the audience, which is exciting. 

How do you’ll select the script? What happens when there is a disagreement in terms of concepts?

Ekta is very open to all sorts of creative input. She is very supportive. If there is something we don’t agree on, we discuss it all. We take feedback and come back with something else. 

We live in a country where there are double standards in life sometimes. If you make content about it, it doesn’t make you regressive in general.

Tanusri Das Gupta

It is usually said that TV is regressive when it comes to its content… you agree?

A regressive mindset is actually a debatable issue. We live in a country where there are double standards in life sometimes. If you make content about it, it doesn’t make you regressive in general. I don’t think any of the shows are regressive, it is about the portrayal. If you take a regressive subject and you portray the progression of it… how you can emancipate it… I don’t think then it becomes an issue. TV has also managed to break boundaries, there are so many shows, there was Balika Vadhu and then Bade Acche Lagte Ho did so well. One was about child marriage and another about two 40-year-old not finding love, both are extremes yet did well. I think if you hit the balance, I don’t think it is regressive. In treatment, things can differ. I can say in terms of Balaji that we have always tried to do something emancipated. We are women makers and we are careful about not giving any wrong message. We are very inclusive of our content.

Lastly, she assured us that many surprises are going to come our way in the coming weeks. 

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