It is no mean task to run a show for ten long years!! Well, meet Malav Rajda, Director of cult sitcom Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah on SAB TV. This son of well-known theatre director Suresh Rajda has been associated with this Neela Telefilms productions show from its very early days.
Says the Director, “I think what works are our simple relatable stories as opposed to the general drama abound on other shows. Also having the same cast for years helps, for they understand what I want and vice versa. There is great camaraderie here unlike most other sets which are often plagued by ego hassles.”
When asked to compare film with TV direction, he says, “Long running TV is essentially a writer’s medium as opposed to three hours celluloid format which is more a film maker’s domain. Our job is to translate the vision of the writer into visual medium and also add our bit.”
“The biggest downside of the medium is that it is very time intensive; you have to daily deliver 22 minutes of content, no matter what given daily telecast deadlines. Recently I had suffered an accident. Had I been a film director, shooting would have been pushed back. But here I am back on set with braces on my knees understanding my responsibility towards my Producer Asit Modi.”
So how much difficult it to get work done on a daily basis? “Tough, but we manage better than many; others have a bank of 7-10 episodes and never shoot for the next day’s telecast. Also we buck the general industry trend by getting our scripts a day in advance giving me and my artists time to offer better output.”
When asked to comment on the common industry funda about TV directors normally falling into 2 categories i.e. one who sets up shows and second who just keeps the flow going. Malav quips, ““Ideally set- up guys in conjunction with writers have time to create, mould and tweak characters.Once the story and characters get established, you have to follow the set line.”
“But unlike other directors I just don’t sacrifice quality at the alter of speed knowing that if output dips, my reputation too will be smeared for ever as today everything can be retrieved on the internet.”
Even after 10 years Malav is quite happy with his job and does not want to move on. “I have great tuning with Asitji. Whenever I go to work I think I am going to my home production and not someone else’s set.”
Taarak has not only given him long time career but even a loving wife i.e. Priya Ahuja Rajda who plays Reeta Reporter. “I met her on set; we have now been married for seven long years. Others have made money; I got my beloved, what more can one ask for?”
In closing when asked about the possible return of Disha Vakhani aka Daya Ben, post her pregnancy break he says, “That is essentially the call of the Producer. But I am hopeful that she will be back soon. It would be wrong on our part to hurry her back as she needs time to take care of her child. Motherhood is a very important part of a women’s life.”
Luckily ratings did not dip post her exit? “Well yes with our show resting on 22 characters, one major character’s absence does not really harm the overall scheme of things.”
Best of luck to you, Mr. Director and your successful team!!