"Even intelligent, situational comedy has its takers" : Kanchan Adhikari

Kanchan Adhikari started her career as an actress more than two decades ago. It took several years for her to don the mantle of director for one of husband Markand Adhikari's (Sabe TV vice-chairman and managing director) serials.

Today, she can boast of having the 1000-episode Damini under her belt. Damini, aired on Doordarshan Sahyadri, has bagged the distinction of being the longest running serial on Indian television. Adhikari has also directed the popular comedy Abhi To Main Jawan Hoon. Not limited to a particular genre, she has recently come up with a comedy, Doli Leke Aayee Hai Dulhaniya (DLAHD). If Abhi To Main Jawan Hoon focused on an old person's youthful fancies, DLAHD is a tale of two brothers who have vowed not to be tied in a marital bond for funny reasons. Adhikari speaks about her life and work in a tete-a-tete with correspondent Amar.

How and when did you decide to turn to direction?

I've been involved with theatre as an actress since 1980. Moreover, I've closely observed the production process at SABe when it thrived as a leading production house. So, basically I knew what directing a serial was all about and I guess, taking up direction was a logical extension of my career.

As director, which subjects appeal to you?

I like women-oriented themes and comedies, but I find it really challenging to work on as many different subjects as I can.

'Comedy is much more difficult because every line of the dialogue, every movement or gesture has to be thoroughly planned to induce laughter'


A still from Doli Leke Aayee Hai Dulhaniya

It is often said that TV is a writer's medium. Do you agree?

No. Writing is definitely a very important aspect as far as TV is concerned but one cannot negate the importance of good performances by actors and good quality direction.

Do you like to write all the serials you direct?

Yes, the concept is certainly mine and in most cases I do the screenplay too.

Is being a writer-director an advantage or a disadvantage?

It's certainly advantageous because having conceived the story and all its characters, the involvement with it at the shooting stage is all the more. Moreover, there is greater clarity of thought and less confusion while shooting if the same person is the writer and director.

While shooting, do you strictly adhere to the script or do you go beyond it?

Well, good comedy cannot be shot without a fair deal of improvisation taking place on the sets. In the case of a comedy, the script can provide a basic premise and structure but the final product that comes out can be substantially different depending on the level of improvisation that has taken place on the shoot. The actors' knack for comedy and their presence of mind are also very important factors that contribute towards making a scene really stand out.

Is making a comedy easy or difficult vis-?-vis soaps?

Comedy is much more difficult because every line of the dialogue, every movement or gesture has to be thoroughly planned to induce laughter. This demands a lot more than shooting a soap does.

How has comedy on Indian TV evolved over the years? Is there a surfeit of slapstick?

I wouldn't believe so. Even intelligent, situational comedy has its takers. As far as I'm concerned, when I plan a project I just concentrate on the theme and the fact that the product should hold the viewer rapt. Beyond that whether the comedy is slapstick or situational is not there on my mind.

A still from Damini

'I know what exactly to expect from an artiste in a given scene'


Have you modelled yourself on any director?

No, my style is exclusively mine. I admire many directors but I also make a conscious effort not to emulate any.

What marks you in style?

I guess it's the overall product that comes out taut and impressive. See, even in the first episode of Doli Leke Aayee Hai Dulhaniya (DLAHD), the comedy is supplemented by some deft photography that only enhances the visual appearance of the scene. In a couple of scenes, I have strategically employed low camera angle shots to very good effect. Normally, directors of sitcoms don't bother about these things.

Does having been an actress help in direction?

Most certainly, it does. I know what exactly to expect from an artiste in a given scene. Sometimes I chip in with my acting inputs too, thanks to my experience as an actor.

Which has been the happiest moment of your career?

Well, there have been achievements - like my serial Damini completing 1,000 episodes will be a significant achievement but frankly, I believe the happiest moment of my career is yet to come.

Where do you see yourself ten years down the line?

(Laughs) On top of the moon. As a successful director of movies.

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