"Is there any formula to freeze my serial between No 1 and No 3?"

Old time cine-goers are all too familiar with the myriad roles Aroona Irani has portrayed in Hindi films - be it the typical vamp, the character artiste, or her more recent avatar of a producer in Bollywood movies.

Irani came into television to hone her directorial skills so that she can put them to use when she gets down to directing a movie. Today, Irani is giving a run for money to the Queen of Soaps, Ektaa Kapoor - courtesy Des Mein Niklla Hoga Chand.

Excerpts from an interview by Vickey Lalwani:

How does it feel to be on top of the TRP ratings?

Great (smiles).

But you slipped in between, for a while?

Is there any formula to freeze my serial between Number one and Number three? (smiles again).

What do you think has worked for DMNHC?

I think the viewers will be the right people to ask. If I tell you, I will be blowing my own trumpet.

But, still...

If you insist - It is a different show and that's why it has worked. The romance and the emotions it throws up every now and then, have clicked. Of course, the family angle cannot be ignored because almost every viewer watching the show has a family.

The viewer could be a rich man or a commoner on the streets. My serial talks about them. My story is directed at them.

But don't you think that the family sagas, emotions, etc, are becoming a bit too much in number?

Certainly not. You cannot avoid portraying relationships, even if the story is not a family saga.

Even if you are making a serial on an underworld don - doesn't he have relatives like mother, sister, brother, friend? Having said that, let me add that relationships run deep in India, whether it's a mother-daughter relationship or a father-daughter, father-son or husband-wife bond.

What is Star Plus' contribution in the success of DMNHC? Your show on Zee (Mehndi Tere Naam Ki) didn't exactly set fire to the ratings charts...

I think you are wrong. It had topped the charts, and was doing well during its time. But yes, Star Plus is a great

channel. It's a good paymaster. It is always ready to pump in

money to make the product feel well-armed.

If I tell the channel's programming team that I need a copter to show an industrialist, they will sign on the dotted line right away. In other words, they respect the maker's opinion.

How do you cope with the channel interference?

I don't know what your definition of channel interference is. But if you mean that they want certain things done in some way, then my answer is 'Why not?'. To me the serial is my daughter, but to them, it is their daughter-in-law. It stays with them, so they have every right to ensure that it is great in 'their' ways.

And mind you, 'their' ways means - the ways which will attract the viewers. Today, the channel war is so hard fought that no channel wants to leave any stone unturned, in any regard.

"If the channel wants things done in some way, then 'Why not?'. To me the serial is my daughter, to them, it is their daughter-in-law. It stays with them"

The scale of DMNHC is huge. Has the large canvas contributed to the show's success?

Definitely. You do, however, need a good script to begin with,

coupled with good performers, who can take the show forward. Everything else is a mere addition to embellish the final product. People want to see a bit of shor sharaba (noise), chamak dhamak (razzle dazzle) so on and so forth.

Do we have good script writers on television?

Hardly. The tribe of good scriptwriters is fast vanishing from

films too. Touch wood, I have a good team in Anand and Ila Dutta for DMNHC.

How are you going to better the serial? Once you reach the top, surely you can't give up the position so easily...

But I have seen it all. I remember my days in Hindi cinema and the bloated egos of top heroines who were on the first, second and third spots. They couldn't handle it when they had to play elderly roles, later in their life.

I don't want to fall into these number games. If my serial

maintains a high TRP, that's enough for me. That does not mean that I am going off to sleep. Good work will, of course, continue. Different and interesting tracks will continue to be dished out.

"I don't want to fall into number games. If my serial maintains a high TRP, that's enough for me"

Your opinions on Ektaa Kapoor?

I admire and respect her. She has achieved so much at a young age. It's just fantastic.

Your views on CAS?

When CAS is finally implemented, I think, we will face big-time crises. The reason being nobody is sure what will happen post-CAS.

If channels slash our prices, we would, in turn, be compelled to cut corners. However, this crisis will be temporary.

What do you mean by 'temporary'?

Slowly, everyone will subscribe to the pay channels. Today, women are cooking food but their eyes are on the TV. I know of many women who tell their husbands to either finish their dinner by 8.30 pm or have it after 11 pm! How will they do without their best friend - the soap heroines? (smiles).

With the channel deadlines so demanding, do you compromise on the takes in order to rush the cassettes on time?

Never. My cast says that I am very fussy about the takes.

According to them, many other serial-makers only see whether they mouth the correct dialogues or not! I, on the other hand, am a perfectionist.

Why did you select Amarr Upadhyay to step into Varun Badola's shoes?

Simply because he is good. Wasn't he terrific in Kyunki...? I had tested several guys but could not find even one who could fit the bill.

I wanted him to take over. But I knew that it will be difficult to bring him back. I had a long discussion with him. My explanation worked. He agreed. I am am used to read in some sections of the press that I brought in Upadhyay to boost up the TRP ratings of my serial.

What next?

I am doing an emotional drama Zameen Se Aasman Tak for Sahara TV. Kiran Kumar and I play the main roles. There will be three new girls too.

The channel wanted me to act in it too. I hope to see it launched somewhere in September-October this year. And then I have a project lined up for Star Plus also.

I also plan to start a film titled Waapsi. But I don't want to launch it at a time when films are flopping left, right and centre. I would rather wait. Amarr Upadhyay will star in Waapsi.

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