Palki Malhotra is a writer, director, producer, creative producer and dance director. She has created and written television shows like Dill Mill Gayye, Dill Dostii Dance, MTV Girls On Top, Yeh Teri Galliyan and more. She ventured into the OTT space with Zee5’s Love Scandal and Doctors. Her newly released show Campus Beats on Amazon miniTV is creating waves with its superb youth connect and is already into season 3. In an exclusive chat, Palki talks about Campus Beats.
From Season 1 to Season 3 – Campus Beats has really built up a strong connect with the audience, how does it feel that the show has picked up so well?
Yes, Campus Beats has connected well with the audience. It feels great to see the hard work paying off and doing so well among the youth. When I made this after 10 years, of course, I was nervous, but I had a sense of confidence that Campus Beats would get a great response. And now, when I see them daily, all the Gen Z kids are running up to the characters, catching them on the streets, and talking in depth with my actors. It feels amazing and overwhelming.
Styling Shantanu Maheshwari for the show and putting together such amazing looks – what was that experience like?
We wanted to show Shantanu in a manner that the audience had not seen before. Shantanu has not played many bad-boy characters. He just did one in Girls on Top that was slightly different. But here, he was a good boy with bad habits. So we knew we had to be different with the styling as well. We were very sure that we wanted to experiment with his styling. We wanted his styling to be gender-neutral, but at the same time, we did not want it to be so out-of-the-box that people could not relate to it. It was tough to style Shantanu because he has upped his fashion game.
When you see him attending these awards and walking on the red carpet, he is choosing the right stylist, designer, and look. With Shantanu’s styling for the show, we wanted to bend the rules. It was kind of easy on him because he has a very athletic body. Not just about Shantanu, styling rich kids in the show was also different. So yeah, we have bent the rules. It is not just about the kind of clothes they are wearing; they are wearing them because they are posh, they are rich, and they are dancers, so dancers are invariably different-looking. So it was great fun experimenting with styling Shantanu’s character.
You have 2 very strong female-oriented characters dominating the show -Netra and Rihana – what went into creating these characters and how important is it for you to keep your female characters central and strong in your shows?
I have always believed in creating female protagonists and strong protagonists. I have always been inclined towards showing the real world and real emotions to young adults. When you show real emotions, they ought to be strong, because today’s girls are not going to take anything lightly. Netra and Rihanna are very different from each other. One similar thing is that both of them are strong. They are very sure of what they want. It is imperative when you are specifically telling the story of today’s generation, you show the real characters. When you sit down to write down characters it’s so much more into the character than just showcasing it as a strong one. When I was writing Netra, she was so much more than just being strong. Other things like righteousness, family virtue, and her morale drive her emotions, all these things pad up her character and mold her. That’s how she is strong but a different kind of strong. Her struggles are different, and her point of view is different. When you see a girl like Netra in real life, she’s coming from that part of society, you will instantly relate to her. Her struggles are so different which shape her life. Similarly, with Rihanna, her struggles are different. She comes from background of money. Her moral compass is slightly flexible. She does not have certain kinds of norms to believe in. It is okay with her to sometimes be in the grey zone. It is okay with her to break the rules sometimes because it makes her vulnerable and it ought to be vulnerable. But, she has her emotional struggle. She has her point of view to look at the world. She is strong in the way she is balancing her friends and her love life. It is imperative that we deep dive into the real scenarios of today and unless we do that, we will never be able to write a real strong character. It has been so much fun to rather write characters who are so much different from each other.
Also, we have created such strong women in the Gen Z show because I feel we need to inspire people. We need to show and make people understand to help them grow in the right manner. I normally make shows with that perspective and when you make a show with that perspective it is important that you create real strong characters who are not always strong and are okay to cry sometimes and it’s okay to be vulnerable. So it is extremely important to showcase the real emotions that go by.
According to you what is the X factor about Campus Beats connecting so well with the youth?
The X factor is the ‘D’ factor. Because the show has got Dil, Dosti, and Dance. I feel it has got the right mixture of raw and glamorous at the same. Once you have the right mix, that remix helps. It should not be like OTT, where the schools or colleges shown, look unreal and unnatural. I feel that one thing that stands apart is the energy on the show. When there is passion and purity in the show there’s the right attitude to do the full justice with what we have. Ultimately, it is our energies aligning it together. The kind of energy the whole cast and crew members of the show bring is unmatchable. So that energy brings magic and that is the magic that people are loving.