My shows are bold in thought, says 'Reporters' producer Shristi Arya
Monday, 13 April 2015 - 6:40am IST | Agency: dna | From the print edition
shristi Arya started her TV journey producing the bold show Lipstick that created a sensation 13 years ago. The fiesty producer followed it up with edgy shows like the youth-oriented Remix that was popular among teenagers, Jhalli Anjali about a girl coming into her own a la Queen and Jee Le Zara which had a younger man falling in love with an older woman. Except for Dekha Ek Khwaab that had a Disney-like feel to it, all her shows have been off the beaten track. Tell that to Srishti and she laughs. "I don't do anything off beat, it's just that I don't do X (saas-bahu) kind of programming. So, what I do is considered off-beat." Her upcoming show Reporters, she says, is a big step forward. Over to Srishti...
Your first show Lipstick was really bold, but your subsequent shows haven't been that daring...
That's because such a subject hasn't come up. Lipstick was based on the periphery of film business and a society where there was a lot of sexual boldness. Even Remix was very edgy - there was premarital sex, kissing and abusing. It's just that Lipstick was more dark. Actually, I think most of my shows are bold in thought. Kehta Hai Dil Jee Le Jara was bold because it was about a younger man falling in love with an older woman. For that matter, even Reporters I would say is bold in the sense that it deals with the ethics of news reporting. The problem here is, the minute I say bold, people expect the actors to take off their clothes!
What prompted you to make a show revolving around journalists?
In the current climate, news has become extremely prevalent. So much so, that we think of anchors as heroes. There are debates on the ethics of how to present news. Earlier there was a show on Doordarshan that revolved around journalists from the print media, but this is the first time we are focusing on the electronic media. Also, me being from the film and TV industry, I get to meet and interact with a lot of journalists. I remember once I was on a set and a reporter had come to interview this actress who rudely kept her waiting. When I asked the the reason, the actress said she had slept at two in the morning and was having a bad day. That's when I started thinking about the journalist, what is happening in her life, does she like the actress or was forced by her editor to do the interview. Journalists are considered pesky by actors, but I wanted to know the world to which scribes belong. That's where the idea germinated. Of course, I can't make a serial on my whim, TV is also ready to explore different themes. Also, the newsroom makes a perfect backdrop for a love story. Usually, love stories are about people who have a different upbringing, rich and poor, diverse religions etc. In Reporters it's the clash in ideologies that sparks a romance.
How did you get Rajeev Khandelwal who had steadfastly stayed away from TV to do the show?
When we were doing the casting, I was clear that I wanted an actor who would bring certain equity to the character of an editor. He cannot be a rank newcomer. There had to be an integrity to his personality and that's when Rajeev came to mind. I knew he was not doing any TV but I decided to approach him thinking the worst thing would be he will say no. But when I called him, he agreed to come across and meet me the same day. I narrated the story to him after which he asked a few questions about how it will be, whether it will change, etc. When he was satisfied I asked him if he could think of any actor better than him to do the role, he said, 'no, I am the best'. It's a joy working with him.
What was the idea behind casting Kritika Kamra?
She is my kind of heroine. If you have seen the girls in my shows, whether it was Neeru Bajwa (Guns and Roses), Shweta Gulati (Remix), Priyal Gor (Dekha Ek Khwaab), they are not like the conventional heroines. Kritika has a certain innocence to her that is required for the role of a junior reporter. As an actress, she can take a scene to another level.
Is the show based on real incidents?
A lot of incidents have their origins in reality. But I want you to watch and guess. Of course, it has been fictionalised to some extent. There is drama, romance and a strong element of thriller with a reflection of reality.
Of the shows you have made so far, which has been the most challenging?
It has to be Reporters, it is techncially challenging. Since it's a newsroom, we have to shoot with two sets of equipments. We need one camera to shoot the coverage and another camera to shoot the cameraman! Plus the TV running with content in the background has to be shot. There is devil in the details.
Will it be a finite series?
Yes, it's a pre-planned seasonal format.