"Kittie Party women are all around us" : Tamara Nedungadi

Tamara Nedungadi started off as an assistant editor in the late eighties to the veteran late Renu Saluja and went on to assist Ashutosh Gowarikar in direction in his pre -Lagaan days before she came on her own with a soap called Waaris on Zee TV.

She went on to direct several episodes of the Shobhaa De penned Sukanya for B4U TV. After a brief lull when she was busy on the home front taking care of her little daughter, she is now back with another Shobhaa De serial, Kittie Party- which at the moment is being used by Zee TV as its trump card and is pitted against Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki.

For someone who is handling some of the biggest stars on TV day in and day out, Tamara is incredibly unassuming. Her reaction to the positive responses her serial has generated is one of guarded optimism as she acknowledges the need for further improvement.

Kittie Party interestingly, also has her working in tandem with her scriptwriter husband, Vinod Ranganath who is writing its screenplay. Excerpts of an interview Tamara gave to correspondent, Amar.

How did you get into TV serial direction?

I always wanted to be involved with the medium. I started off assisting the late Renu Saluja in editing. Renu however, would always tell me that I should assist someone in directing a movie and then involve myself with the editing of the same movie. This way I would learn things in a more rounded way. So, I assisted Pamela Rookes for Beatty's Children, where I was in charge of the costumes. My first independent assignment as director was Waaris.
As director, which subjects appeal to you?

I don't have any specific preferences. I like as many disparate subjects as I can work on except gory stuff and horror stories.

"I am receptive to their point of view but I would never tamper with a scene to cater to someone's whims and fancies"
What are the factors that you take into consideration before taking up a new project? What made 'Kittie Party' particularly appealing?

Primarily I consider the subject, and the producer of the show. The subject should be one I can personally relate with, as well as put my own conviction into. As far as Kittie Party is concerned, the eight women appealed to me. Their characters are very relatable. It's like we see these women around us especially in urban society. .
You are directing some of the biggest names on TV in this serial. Is it difficult handling stars? Do you have to pamper their egos?

No, as director I have to set the right ambience. You have to be professional with them and they have to be professional with you. Luckily, all these stars, despite being big names are extremely well behaved and nice people. In any case, what does pampering their ego mean? I am receptive to their point of view but I would never tamper with a scene to cater to someone's whims and fancies.
Are you satisfied with the way the show has shaped up? Is there anything you are working on to improve it further?

Well, let me put it this way - I'm not disappointed. Kittie Party has got favourable responses from most quarters. Of course, there is always scope for improvement and we are looking at improving it on various fronts.
There are suggestions that 'Kittie Party' has a limited niche appeal. Do you feel the same?

No, I won't say it has a limited appeal. I would say that every household will be able to strongly relate with at least one of the main characters in the show. That is what makes it appealing overall.
How does your background in editing help you as director?

It saves a lot of time while shooting. There are times when I have worked backwards. For instance, if two characters are involved in a scene and one hasn't arrived on time, I have completed shooting the other actor's portions separately, because I know where exactly each shot has to be cut.
As director, what are the factors you never compromise on while shooting?

Primarily, on the performances. If I am looking at a certain level of performance, I don't compromise on it till I get it, no matter how much time it consumes. Another area where I don't compromise is on the look or feel I want a scene to have. If I want a certain prop to be there, I won't can the shot till it is there.


"Many directors do not attach significance to the clap, but given the volume of pictures one has to can on TV, I believe it is imperative to treat it seriously "

For the sake of aspiring directors, could you please dwell on the importance of clap and continuity?

Clap on TV basically serves the purpose of earmarking each scene and helps in sequencing them later in the post production stage. Many directors do not attach the right significance to it but given the volume of pictures one has to can on TV, I believe it is imperative to treat it seriously.

Continuity records are just as important to ensure there are no glitches in the scene. There are several continuity records- costume continuity, dialogue continuity - all of which should be carefully monitored. Being an editor I know how lapses in clap and continuity can make things difficult at the post production stage.
Who are your favourite directors? What are the stylistic elements you have imbibed from them?

I would say I have been inspired by the directors who I have assisted- Ashutosh Gowarikar and Gogi Anand. They are also both very particular when it comes to handling performances. Subconsciously, I have also imbibed their style of shot-taking but if you ask me to pinpoint anything specific, I wouldn't be able to do it off hand.
As a writer- director couple how well do you both complement each other in your respective fields? Does it make work smoother?

See, when we are working together, I don't think of Vinod as my husband. He is just another writer and I the director. I never interfere at the stage of writing. It's only after the first draft is ready that I give my inputs. I won't say work becomes smoother because in any case, I am very particular about detailing when it comes to scripts and I would call up any writer even at midnight if I have to clarify something.
How do you handle performances? Do you personally enact scenes, especially for new actors?

As far as senior actors are concerned, explaining a scene is sufficient. However, new actors are sometimes not able to understand the essence of a scene and in that case I enact the scene out. But such instances are rare because I feel that as far as possible an actor should first be allowed to do a scene his or her way.
What do you look for in a person before taking him/her under your wing?

The willingness to take on more responsibilities with a smile. I get put off by the passing the buck attitude. I started off as a costume co-ordinator and expect my assistants to take on varied responsibilities without any ego hassles.

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