"Sahara never denied me a thing"

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He has opened an editing studio in his lavish penthouse apartment in suburban Mumbai and spends every spare moment examining each frame and plotting the next episode with his ever expanding team of writers and visualisers. Akashdeep has never had it so good.

A director known more for flops like Boyfriend, Akashdeep is today the creative advisor for Sahara and the force behind its most lavish production to date. Yet, he admits to bouts of nerves and sleeplessness. "I don't think I have arrived till Karishma clicks..." he says as he squeezed in a half hour for a chat with indiantelevision's Aparna Joshi and Trupti Ghag last week, before the copyright infringement suit put a stay on the telecast of the show, earlier scheduled for a launch tonight.

 

How was 'Karishma' born?

I went to Karisma, who's a good friend, with just a gut feel. I knew it was a meaningful time for her to debut on the small screen. She was apprehensive, but I convinced her that I would create a canvas that would be worth her appearning on television. That was in June 2002.

I spoke with Sumit Roy and the concept was ready in less than a week. Within months, everything was finalized and we were ready to shoot by October. Initially, Ramesh Sippy was to be involved, but then he realized he wouldn't be able to give the time for a daily. I had known and seen Anurag Basu's works and brought him in. It was Anurag's idea that a daily would need at least two directors, that's how Siddharth Sengupta and later Talat Jani entered the picture.

I had initially thought of getting theatre artistes to act alongside Karisma, but it was she who pointed out that we would be selling images as large as that of a film star like Karisma. We would need equally wellknown faces to act with her. That's when the others were approached and thankfully, they all agreed thanks to my old friendship with them. And I must say that Sahara never denied me a thing.

 

What is shooting for 'Karishma' like?

I am losing more than I am earning, but I am not complaining. Often, there's a 100 strong unit waiting for Karisma to finish her makeup and hair styling. Each of our senior artistes has his own make up van, the making of the serial is definitely going to be slow.

We have shot in Amby Valley, New Zealand and now have permanent studios in Mumbai, apart from the proposed shoots in Spain in June and Dubai in May. I don't want to compromise on anything…. We shoot a nine to nine shift. There's nothing like channel interference. We have a two month bank of episodes, but keeping in mind the dates of the stars, it is a tight rope walk that's going to be more difficult as the serial launches.

 

What will you doing on Monday night (when the serial was originally scheduled for launch?

I will probably be far away from here, trying to hide and forget everything...

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