Acclaimed creative visionary Aniruddh Pathak has had years of experience behind him wherein he has brought to life various concepts as Writer!!
His tenure as Producer kick-started with the visual extravaganza on Sony TV, Prithvi Vallabh and there’s been no looking behind for him and his team, as they have gone on to create interesting and critically acclaimed concepts like Chandrashekar and the upcoming historical love story, Dastaan-E-Mohabbat: Salim Anarkali.
We at IWMBuzz.com got into a hearty conversation with the man who gave us an insight on his thought process as a Writer, his creative challenges, his inhibitions, his success and failure.
You have always given viewers concepts and shows which are very differently made. Tell us about that.
Yes, I always put in my effort to give something different via the concepts I offer. I have handled various profiles in my career – I have been a Writer, been in a Channel and have been a Producer too. The common thread in all these phases for me, has been story telling. The only motto and purpose of my creative career is to deliver a difference with respect to storytelling. Till recently, I was known for writing concepts related to God. This is the first time I have attempted to go beyond the mythological genre to give the love story of Salim and Anarkali, which will be completely different in terms of genre. I always believe in experiments. I also consider myself very lucky that broadcasters have invested their trust and faith in me to deliver huge concepts for them in spite of shows not showing up on numbers.
As a Writer, how do you start working on a concept?
See, there is a perception in Indian TV that the mythological stories that people are aware of should be targeted and brought on screen. But my effort has always been to tell the same story in a very different way. The process of going about it is always a huge demand coming from the broadcaster. There are three main things to be taken into account – firstly, there should be a huge requirement or need for a particular story to be conveyed and told to the masses. Secondly, it should fulfil the channel’s requirement and thirdly, it should be a concept which can appeal to the masses. There are many concepts that can be tapped upon, but when it gets its own shape, these three factors are to be taken into account.
How was the transition phase for you from being a Writer to turning a Producer?
It was a very difficult phase. When a Writer turns into a Producer, the Producer needs to have an immaculate expertise to make shows on television. As a Producer, you need to think about only the margin. But for a Writer, he needs to create a space for himself even outside of the margin. I am a bit different in terms of thinking. But I feel that I am a happier person when I think of my creative journey rather than my journey as Producer. I feel being a Producer adds more responsibilities on me. I don’t see it as a source to make money. In fact, I feel that I have lost a bit of the knack to think creatively as Producer. If I was not a Producer, I would have been involved in bigger shows, is what I get to understand. As a Broadcaster or Writer, I could have written and delivered better. This is my personal thought.
You have been doing very well even as Producer?
(laughs). God is kind. And the people in channels respect my work and motivate me to do better.
Experiments seldom run and give good ratings on TV. What do you think is the reason for this.. Even Prithvi Vallabh for the matter of fact was visually brilliant, but you might have wanted better ratings..
Content on TV is usually visualized as the matter you need to fill up between two commercial ads. Ad is the revenue which needs to reach to the concerned people. A show is the content that is needed to gather junta to create this revenue. I am not saying that saas bahu sagas are bad, and whatever I am giving is good. What I am trying to say is that the stuff which appeals to masses and gets popular can never be critically acclaimed. Whatever appeals to the masses has less of substance. This is seen in the fictionalized world, in politics, in the field of theatre and art. Ekta Kapoor is so very successful because she has gathered the needs of people very well. There is a cute bond between demand and supply which is required for a target group of audience. This is where Ekta scores over others as she understands things well.
Having said this, I have always tried as Writer to maintain the right balance between richness in concept and ability to gather numbers whether it was Mahadev, Mahakumbh, Siya Ke Ram. In the case of Prithvi Vallabh, I believe that the network was very weak. We got hit because of the weekend slot. Audience was not focussed enough over the weekend to see such a concept. The show made was definitely class apart, but we lost out in the placement and strategies adapted to promote the show. Rather than calling Prithvi Vallabh a failure in terms of ratings, I would call it as a failure with regards to positioning.
Moving on, what are your expectations over Dastaan-E-Mohabbat: Salim Anarkali?
This is huge for us. I hope and pray that we strike a great balance with respect to numbers as well as the soulful story telling that we intend showing. I can see it happening as I see the episodes that are ready to go on air. We have worked a lot on our research with respect to the tale of Salim and Anarkali. This is a never-seen-before show as we have not seen this concept after Mughal-E-Azam was made. I have a strong inkling that I will be able to set right the ‘broken bridge with viewers’ with Salim Anarkali.
What is the USP of the show according to you?
There are 3 USPs of this show. Firstly, this is a classic cult love story with intensified elements of love and revolt. Secondly, I feel we have got the best cast for the show. Every actor chosen is a class apart. Thirdly, we have excelled in dialogues and you will see all this coming alive on screen. Overall, Salim Anarkali is a complete package, which will appeal to viewers of all ages and mentalities.
Have you experienced something called ‘Writer’s Block? How do you keep yourself motivated while writing?
See, there is always an intoxicated feel while writing a story. But block is very much related to success. If the show is not successful, feelings get transformed into a block. If you are successful, you always find a way to progress and do better. I had worked very sincerely on the script of Prithvi Vallabh. But when the result did not come, we wondered where we faltered. You cannot afford to have a writer’s block when you are working for TV. You need to be churning episodes after episodes; it’s not easy at all.
Will there be a day when you will work on a differentiated daily soap drama?
No, I feel I have become old to even go near that. It will be very difficult for me to write a daily. My mind is now focussed more towards the web platform. We are working on a few of them. I want to give viewers a different perception with my mythological concepts. I see myself working more for web and more on the classy projects.
What is your take on the digital market?
After Sacred Games, I feel India will do really well with respect to the web platform. We are capable of creating game-changers on the web space. Few players feel they can do well by bringing sensual and sex-related content. Few feel they can thrive on crime, thrillers and suspense. Few feel youth shows will sell. I feel that we need to tap into the great stories given to us in mythology. The turnaround that Sacred Games has created is amazing and incredible. We have been telling stories of the popular mytho stories. But the real stories in our mythology are the ones which are more complex. Such content can never be said on television. I will want to work on such stories. There is a lot to explore and tell on the digital space!!
All the best for your new ventures!!