"I intend doing different kinds of shows for varied channels" : Deepti Bhatnagar

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Deepti Bhatnagar's career started with modeling, one that became an instant success. Her subsequent venture into acting however did not yield the same fruit.

It was in 2001 that Bhatnagar emerged in a new avatar as television producer. Musafir Hoon Yaaron, which she produced along with hubby Randeep Arya for Star Plus was soon followed by the religious travel show, Yatra. Deepti incidentally also anchors both these shows.

Buoyed by the success of her two serials, Bhatnagar is now set to embark on soapy terrain with a series called Kabhi Aaye Na Judai, a daily on Star Plus that premieres on January 27 next.

For a fledgling producer, Bhatnagar's performance is quite outstanding. Giving her company is Arya, who also directs both her travel shows. In the midst of her busy schedule, the charming Deepti Bhatnagar took time off for a tete-a tete with indiantelevision.com. Excerpts -

From model and actress to TV producer, how did this transition happen?

Well, there were two things that really contributed to this transition. One, the monotony of doing uninspiring roles that were coming my way. Two, I was really fascinated by travel shows as I personally also enjoy traveling a lot. Besides, I have always been a very creative person and wanted to explore other avenues besides just acting.

So, I took the initiative and met Sameer Nair (Star India COO) with a concept for a travel show. A few months later, when Star wanted an existing travel show to be reformatted and given a new look, I took over as producer of the show eventually christened Musafir Hoon Yaaron.

Where did you fail as an actress?

I don't know for sure. Actually, I was already a famous model when I decided to get into acting. At that level, I was not in a position where I could personally call up people for work as it would have looked odd. At the same time, good roles for some reason never came my way. I guess I could not market myself well. Or maybe, I was just not destined for it.

 

"I was really fascinated by travel shows as I personally also enjoy traveling a lot"

 

Does being an actress help? Are channels more receptive to you?

No, I won't say so. It may have helped to some extent in getting my first show on air but subsequently it is the quality of your programme that really matters. If I have got my third show coming on air on Star, it's because they are extremely satisfied by my first two shows.

How was 'Yatra' conceived?

Like I said, I have always enjoyed traveling. After doing my first travel show, I wanted to explore even deeper into the genre. So, I took up a subject that had to deal with the temples. Our ancient temples have some very interesting stories behind them and I felt it would be fun unraveling these stories.

But shooting Yatra had its own share of difficulties. The priests are normally too conservative and do not allow shooting inside the temple premises. It has been a real challenge to convince them to allow these temples to be shot. Managing the crowd of devotees hasn't been any easy either.

What is your production set-up like?

We have a small but immensely dedicated team of about 20 people who manage the entire show. We have acquired all inbuilt facilities including those of editing, dubbing and postproduction.

What are your sources of funding?

I haven't gone for institutional finance or bank loans. I have so far relied on my own funds and on the rotation of profits.

Is there any specific reason why all your shows are on Star?

Well, there's no specific reason. It's just that I started off with Star and we've shared an excellent working equation so far. Besides, there is no reason why I shouldn't be working with them. They are very professional, hugely popular and visible and very prompt when it comes to payments as well. Having said that, I am open to other channels and am negotiating with them as well.

 

"If I have got my third show coming on air on Star, it's because they are extremely satisfied by my first two shows"

Do you find channel intervention an impediment while working on your shows?

No, I won't say so. At least, the inputs I have got from the channel for my travel show have been invaluable and have helped it immensely.

How do you divide responsibilities with Randeep?

We rather share all responsibilities. It gives a great feeling to have him around as two people handling something together is better than one. We are personally involved with all areas of production- right from conceiving a concept to selling it across to the channel to the scripting and the final execution.

How do you intend to balance your careers as actor and producer?

Well, acting is my first love and even today if something really exciting comes up, I think I would go for it, of course keeping in mind that my production work doesn't get unsettled because of that.

Having a good team really helps as today I don't have to be around every moment in my office. My travel show in any case requires me to spend a lot of time away from Mumbai but in my absence, my team is competent enough to handle other shows proficiently. Of course I'm in touch with my team all the time, even when I'm away from Mumbai.

How do you see Deepti Bhatnagar Productions shaping up in the next few years?

Well, in the next two years I would look forward to producing another three to four shows, all very different from one another. Besides, I do plan to get into movie production sometime in future.

Are you satisfied with the way Deepti Bhatnagar Productions has done in the last one and half years?

I would say I'm so satisfied that I haven't missed acting at all.

So, that means no more movies with Mithun Chakravarty?

(Smiles) I've just done two movies with him. In any case, why not? He is a great performer.

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