"I see great scope for news based programming " : Aditya Singh

Till recently, Aditya and Abhimanyu Singh were known more as siblings of film actor Chandrachur Singh. No more. Today, they have carved a niche for themselves as successful TV producers, with a successful suspense series Shhh Koi Hai… in their kitty. Their latest offering Krishna Sharma, C.A, also on Star Plus, is a comedy tackling real life issues. The producer duo is also creating two film based shows - Jubilee Plus and Rahe Na Rahe Hum, the latter being anchored by Javed Akhtar.

In a candid interview with indiantelevision.com correspondent Amar, Aditya Singh speaks of his company's plans and holds forth on several issues confronting TV producers today. Excerpts:

How did you start your innings as producer?

I was always fascinated by the medium. It was in 1994-95 that I made my debut as executive producer on a serial calledAlbeli on DD Metro, which was produced by my aunt. She was the one who actually gave me the idea that I could be a producer as well. Soon thereafter, I teamed up with my brother to produce our first serial called Aakhen on DD Metro.

Which subjects do like to tackle as a producer?

I am open to programmes of any genre. In fact, as a producer I enjoy the challenge of understanding the emergence of a new genre and being a trend-setter. We're really happy with the way Sssshh Koi Hai… has shaped up over the last few months. But rather than churning out something similar we have gone for a comedy- Krishna Sharma, C.A. We plan to follow this up with a love story, which we plan to shoot abroad extensively.

Your last two ventures have been co-productions with Cinevistaas. Do you have any special association with Cinevistaas?

One of the partners in Cinevistaas, Uday Singh, is well known to us and that's how the idea of a co-production came about. We look after the creatives, pre-production, casting and the production design. Cinevistaas helps us in post-production, the special effects in particular. Consequently, both stand to gain immensely from this arrangement. Earlier, we had some wonderful concepts, but because of a lack of proper post-production facilities, our costs were shooting up. Of course, we will be setting up our own post-production unit; but as of now, Cinevistaas helps us in this area.

How do you choose a channel for your show?

Essentially, I look at three factors - the channel's involvement with the product right from the stage the concept is conceived, the target audience reached by the channel and our rapport and experience with the channel.

'As a producer, I enjoy the challenge of understanding the emergence of a new genre and being a trend-setter.'


A still from Shhh...koi hai

Would you consider a completely new channel to air your show?

We did receive a couple of proposals from MAK TV but I don't see the need or the inducement to go ahead with it - one, because we have our hands full at the moment and two, because even the other concepts that we are working on are being worked on with the involvement of reputed channels. I don't want to take on more work than we can do justice to, but having said that there are no apprehensions as far as a new channel is concerned.

Who would you rate among your favourite directors?

Suraj Rao, Pawan Kaul and Sourabh Narang are some of my favourite directors on television. All of them have been personally involved with the scripting of the episodes of Shhh Koi Hai… which they have directed for us. I also admire a director from Hyderabad, Manikya, who has recently joined us as the creative director of our company, Contiloe Films.

Who are your favourite writers?

Atul Tiwari, Sameer Modi, Brijesh Jairaman and the writer duo, Arshad and Imtiyaz. They have done most of the writing for us.

Have you ever felt hassled by channel executive producers?

No, not at all. Most of the work we have done has been with Star and the executive producers, apart from being involved right from the time a concept is born, have been very co-operative and understanding. I can't think of a situation where they have been unreasonable.

What are your sources of funding?

We rotate our profits from on-going projects into new projects and also avail of credit options. We haven't yet availed of institutional finance but do plan to in the future.

With your existing infrastructure, how many projects can you take up simultaneously?

The number of projects is not a problem. We already have four programmes on air. There are eight other concepts we are working on right now, including a couple for small budget movies. Given the unpredictability involved in the medium, you never know which of these projects might suddenly take off. So, we are prepared to have many more projects on air but ideally we would like to a go a wee bit slow because when too many projects take off simultaneously, it becomes difficult to maintain quality.

A scene from the newly started Krishna Sharma, CA
'Doesn't a channel have the right to trust people who have delivered as far as quality is concerned?'

India is probably the only country where producers are not entitled to a share of the channel revenue even after forfeiting their rights over the programme. What do you feel about the issue?

I feel that's okay, because here the cable operator does not give the broadcaster the kind of revenues he does in other countries. But gradually, the cable operator's pie in the channel's revenues will increase and that would probably improve the situation.

Why are women producers more successful on Indian TV - Ektaa Kapoor, Aruna Irani, Neena Gupta, to name a few?

Well, this is a recent trend and has to do with the dominance of women centric soaps in the last few years. But I wouldn't read much into it. Cinevistaas, UTV and Creative Eye are hugely successful production houses without a woman heading them.

How do you divide professional responsibilities with your brother Abhimanyu?

I am more involved with conceiving and developing concepts and marketing them to the channels. Abhimanyu takes over the production and the actual execution of these projects. Of late, however, Abhimanyu is getting more involved with the creatives while I focus on evolving the company's future plans for growth including recruitments, because getting the right people is a pivotal issue as far as our growth plans are concerned.

What is your production set-up like?

We have a CEO heading the company, two creative directors, at least one executive producer on a show (could be two depending on the show) and a full-fledged production unit of our own. We are hiring competent professionals for budgeting and finance because this would be a key area for us. Post- production is one area where we have to depend on others currently but in the next month or so, we will have our own editing studio as well.

Do you find the current television industry situation positive or disappointing?

I would say it's very positive. I know people complain of the formation of lobbies of certain production houses that are getting all the work from the TV channels. But then, doesn't the channel have the right to trust people who have delivered as far as quality is concerned? Producers who have delivered on quality and not maximised profits by cutting costs are not the ones who have suffered.

What is your vision for Contiloe Films?

As of now, our thrust has not been so much on soaps because practically everyone is into them. We've concentrated instead on alternative programming like film based shows and these have done quite well. In the future, I foresee a great scope for news-based programming, which we plan to get into in a big way. But at the same time, we would take up soaps in a limited and well-planned way. We are also lining up a couple of small budget films, as these have a good profit potential. Five years down the line, I see Contiloe Films developing into a reliable and esteemed content providing house well diversified into TV, films and music.

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