The success of Apharan Sabka Katega has made me a relieved man! The feeling is unexplainable. The huge response that we’ve got will give me the confidence to write more stuff like this in future and to make it too.
You must be wondering why I am saying so…. Well, there is a reason for that! And after giving my 20 years to the television industry, I never ever imagined that my work on TV would be seen as stigma. All of a sudden, there comes a phase wherein you are not considered because of your TV expertise. I would say the main reason for me to do a web-series is to survive.
I think it is unfair to get confused between media and judge people accordingly.
People should understand that the media of radio, TV, films and web-series differ. There is a different kind of demand for every medium and the supply is also different. I think it is unfair to get confused between media and judge people accordingly. TV scripts need a different take and the telling is not easy at all. Whoever looks down upon TV, I will want to ask them to write 100 episodes of a story. Trust me, it is very difficult to chapterize a story into 100 episodes. It is sheer talent that drives people to do this and succeed in it. So when I was working on Apharan, the very fear of being put into the bracket of being a TV person weighed me down. Rather than being nervous about the script, I was nervous of this fact. I am extremely grateful for the work I have got on TV. But to go through this was tough. As I said, I am now relieved and I thank Ekta Kapoor for it. The same happens to actors. I see people categorising actors as TV actors. How can an actor be called a TV actor? He is an actor, period. I hope people understand the differences in media and trust talent.
Coming to Apharan, I am thankful to the audience for giving it all the love. The moment Mohinder Pratap Singh narrated the concept to me, I knew there was brilliance in it. And at that very moment, I knew I wanted to do it. The journey of making this web-series for ALTBalaji has been amazing. We first sat on the screenplay and that was when I involved the brilliant Varun Badola for dialogues in it. For the last four episodes, I involved the super talented Umesh Padalkar, creator and director of Kagaar and Dhadkan, for screenplay. The writing took more than six months. We all spent maximum time together on the script.
The idea of fusing comedy with hardcore thriller was certainly a huge risk but the credit goes to Ekta Kapoor for supporting it as she was very clear that she wanted just that and was ready to take the risk.
The USP of the series, in my opinion, lies in its hard-core masala. I thought of all the movies I have seen from my childhood days while making it. I have always been fascinated with the twists that movies provide. With all this in mind, I experimented a lot with the genre crossover. The idea of fusing comedy with hardcore thriller was certainly a huge risk but the credit goes to Ekta Kapoor for supporting it as she was very clear that she wanted just that and was ready to take the risk. It could have fallen flat. But then that’s Ekta for you. And again, I am thankful to the audience for appreciating the concept and execution.
Also, I would like to thank each and every member of the cast and crew. Shooting for the series in the trying conditions of Haridwar and Hrishikesh was no easy task. We actually shot in the wrong month out there. It was extremely hot. But passion drove us and none of us felt the heat. My actors, starting from Arunodhay Singh, Nidhi Singh, Varun Badola, Monica Choudhary, Mahie Gill, Sanjay Batra and others, were so very co-operative that directing them was sheer fun.
The biggest challenge and achievement was to shoot amidst the huge crowd, that too with actors who are very popular.
We shot at fabulous live locations which made for great viewing. Personally, I don’t like sets even after doing so much of TV. I have a problem with sets. Earlier, the plan was to shoot at Lucknow and Ujjain. But the moment I landed in Hrishikesh, I fell in love with the place. I had been to Hrishikesh earlier, but never with an eye for filming. And we came back with such great memories!
Talking about memories, the biggest challenge and achievement was to shoot amidst the huge crowd, that too with actors who are very popular. I would say temperature and handling the crowded live locations were the biggest ordeals we had to face. And it was not easy to hide a huge man like Arunoday Singh. Come on, he’s huge! I like shooting candid but with Arunoday, it was really tough. The best scene shot candid was the one where Varun chases Nidhi. Monica had one memorable scene wherein she had to get inside the cold Ganges. Alas, she did not know swimming, but she managed to pull it off. Arunoday made the fight scenes look so realistic. He never uses duplicates and does his own stunts. And he used to get bruised every now and then, but never complained. He is a pleasure to work with!
Talking of the dialect used in the dialogues, full credit for that goes to Varun Badola. He has been amazing in his job. He has been one of my greatest pillars.
Another aspect where we experimented was in the music. In addition to adding the old music, I also used my son, who studies in Berkeley College of Music, to give the background music. My son Shivam Sengupta and his partner Anuj Danait did not follow the conventional norm of background music and what a fab job they did! I’m too too proud of them.
Above all, Ekta Kapoor took the promotions of Apharan to a greater level. While making a show, there are three departments that need to be handled – content, marketing and production. Ekta Kapoor knows the art of handling all three departments. She is a phenomenon on her own.
Last but not the least, this show would not have been even close to possible without the support of my partner Jyoti Sagar. I was pushing my boundaries and he was silently supporting my belief and vision. Hence, we both have yet another product that we are proud of.
So yes, we are now at the stage of looking at a Season 2 for Apharan. I have a few things in mind and am working towards cracking the story.
As told to Srividya Rajesh