"On TV, pace is everything" : Shobhaa De

Shobhaa De has perfected the art of reinventing herself - as a model, journalist, advertising copy writer, celebrity columnist, novelist and now as a television script writer. She has several novels to her credit and has taken the favourable reviews as well as criticism in her stride.

For Zee's Kittie Party, De's incisive pen has created eight women who are catty, full of gossip, often hypocritical and crafty. What sets these well-heeled women apart from their counterparts in competing serials is their closer association with reality. De has sensitively brought out their honesty even as she brutally exposes their frailties, their obsession with class and their weakness for the rich life.

De spoke to indiantelevision.com's Ashwin Kotian on the occasion of the Siddhant Cinevision bash to celebrate the completion of 100 episodes of Kittie Party. Excerpts-

What kind of adjustments does a writer have to make in order to write for TV serials?

On TV, pace is everything. If you don't understand pace, you don't have any business to be on television. A writer's work cannot be compartmentalised. Whether it is an ad copy or a script or a novel, it is inspired creativity at its best. It is all about thoughts, words and ideas.

Writing for TV serials was an exciting experience for me. Unlike a novel, which is purely a one-on-one experience; writing for a TV serial took me to another dimension. I felt as if my characters were coming alive on the small screen. My characters have faces (of the actors who played the characters) and I associate these faces with my creations.

How have people reacted to Kittie Party?

Kittie Party was a gut reaction to the 'retrograde' serials currently on air. I grabbed the opportunity to use Kittie Party as a device to project contemporary women and narrate a true to life story. The serial wouldn't have been accepted a decade back as it would have been considered to be an elitist past time.

I have been surprised by the response from people in different walks of life. This proves that the premise of female bonding and women meeting one another to discuss their lives is being accepted in several places in the country. In fact, even within Mumbai, there are suburban kitty parties, multi-millionaire kitty parties and middle-class kitty parties.

People have reacted in a favourable manner and this response has come from metros as well as smaller towns such as Indore, Nagpur and Coimbatore. These people who reside in small towns didn't know me as an author of English novels. Now they have started reading my work. Writing for Kittie Party and the promotional media blitz around the serial has succeeded in getting me instant recognition beyond the metros. There has been a rub-off effect on the sales of my novels but the extent cannot be quantified.

Even at airports, I have had women walking up to me and congratulating me and thanking me for giving them Kittie Party.

"People have reacted in a favourable manner and this response has come from metros as well as smaller towns such as Indore, Nagpur and Coimbatore"

How has Kittie Party broken the 'saas-bahu' mould on Indian television?

It is all about the attitude projected by the women protagonists. Kittie Party has definitely broken the mould and presented Indian women of the 21st century. It has brought these women to the fore and given them confidence to behave freely - as their global counterparts do.

The story is about issues relevant to today's women and not the 'saas-bahu' sagas where the protagonists' mindsets were 50 years behind the times. I personally feel that the 'saas-bahu' themes are extremely insulting and degrading. It is wrong to project women as submissive on the small screen. On the other hand, one must give the younger generation enough confidence to be what they are and what they want to do.

Why are the 'saas-bahu' sagas on TV still watched by millions of women?

Indian women love to cling on to the existing stratosphere as they find a certain comfort zone. Most Indian women have spent their entire lifetime living and believing in the values projected on screen. Several of them haven't had the courage to break away from the groove. Also, the elder generation of women don't allow the younger ones to break the mould.

Kittie Party has given them a new insight. Viewers may or may not pick these insights and imbibe them. But the fact remains that we have shown them a new path. The female characters speak today's language and many Indian women will definitely connect to them.

"Indian women love to cling on to the existing stratosphere as they find a certain comfort zone"


Are your male characters sidelined amidst the numerous female characters?

Some male characters in Kittie Party are extremely progressive modern males. Consider the character of Manoviraj (played by actor Kiran Kumar) - he is a contemporary man who doesn't fall into the trap of stifling his women. He gives them freedom. Basically, all my characters are neither black nor white; they all have their failings and their strengths; they are good at times and equally bad. None of them can be permanently slotted or typecast in a permanent mould.

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