"We have given 3 concepts to Sahara & Sony for which we are awaiting a reply":Rahul Productions' Smita Thackeray

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Smita Thackeray, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's daughter-in-law, is slowly expanding her footprint on Indian television. Entertainment has been her weakness, rather something which she has loved to be actively involved with. Whether it is producing serials, films or controlling the piracy menace, she has taken up the cudgels and not just left it at that, but attempted to see them to their logical conclusion.

Her latest serial Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Dhooom (K3D) starring Pallavi Joshi and Ali Asgar has clear shades of yesteryears' popular films Brahmachari and Mr India, but it's early days yet to say whether it will set the cash registers ringing. The serial airs on Star Plus on Fridays at 7.30 pm.

Indiantelevision.com's Vickey Lalwani caught up with Thackeray on the sidelines of the preview of K3D.

Snippets from the chat:

You seem to be becoming a big player in Indian television?

Basically I am very fond of the entertainment media, be it dramas, films or serials. Plus, I think television has grown as an industry in the last one year by leaps and bounds. So why not? We have Bhagya Vidhata (ETV Marathi) which completed 100 episodes recently. Then we've done Jhenp (again ETV Marathi), which portrayed how cancer patients "are" treated and how they "should have been" treated, also we had Khel on Sony.

It is surprising that you haven't attempted soaps or thrillers in Hindi programmes so far. Most new producers soon take, or rather begin with, the safer route of a soap (mostly) or a thriller (sometimes)?

I know. But I want my first outputs in Hindi programmes to be the ones which are close to my heart. Coming to K3D, I have always felt very much for the kids who are devoid of parental love. These children lead a very edgy life. If you respect them, they respect you more. But if you're harsh to them, they retaliate. But yes, I have plans for soaps and thrillers on Indian television in the near future.

What is your involvement as a TV producer?

Right from the word 'Go' I am involved with my project. To begin with, I sit for for all story sessions. I firmly believe that television is story telling. You stretch the story but keep the audience interest alive constantly. Only then will the show succeed.

How do you select the story?

I go with my inner voice. It's purely instinctive. Of course, I ask some of the close and senior members of the team who are directly involved in production.

What's happening to your film 'Hum Do Hamara Ek' starring Govinda and Raveena?

It has been delayed beyond imagination. I had lots of problems with the actors' dates. I will not absolve myself from blame. During its making, I was unable to devote much time to it; I was too busy with IMPAA. More recently, I had problems in selling the film too.

"TV and film business are two different ball games"

Did the film face a selling problem because Raveena and Govinda are not happening anymore?

The distributors haven't told me the reason, but I think Govinda is a great actor.

Think of it. There is a chance that Govinda's film can set the cash registers ringing because he has recently romped home in the Lok Sabha elections with a thumping margin.

The distributors should understand that (laughs).

It's easy in films once you appoint a director. Isn't it different on television?

(Smiles) It is. On television, the channel contributes a lot of inputs. Every person sitting in the channel has a different mindset and vision. It's a huge team work. You have to go as per the channel's requirement. You have to accept it. You have to meet at a common point on everything. TV and film business are two different ball games.

Coming to 'K3D', how has the experience been during the making?

It has been fun. Plus there have been situations which have been difficult to deal with. Like we have selected mostly those kids who have faced the camera before. Yet kids are very unpredictable. One moment, they'll give you one expression. The next moment, in the second take for the same shot, they'll give you a different expression.

Did you cast Pallavi Joshi and Ali Asgar in the leads, or was the channel (Star Plus) instrumental in casting them?

They were clear that they wanted good-looking, well-known faces. And I wouldn't disagree on that. It gives a polished look to the project. We suggested Pallavi and Ali and they did not take long to endorse the same.

"Star Plus was clear that they wanted a good-looking, well-known face for K3D"

You said you are fond of kids. Are you planning any films on kids? And what else is happening on the film front?

I may come up with a kids film in near future, if I get a good script. I see a lot of Pogo channel myself. Look at our kids going crazy over Spy Kids 3. I am pained that we Indians don't concentrate on making films like these.

On other types of films, I am planning a biggie with Rajkumar Santoshi as director. Plus there's Hum Jo Keh Na Paye starring Anupam Kher, Gauri Karnik and Abhijit Sanyal.

Let's talk about your TV soap and thriller which is coming up in the near future.

That reminds me, there's comedy too. Actually, we have given three concepts to Sahara and Sony put together - comedy, soap and thriller. We are awaiting a reply.

How was your tenure at the IMPAA (Indian Motion Pictures and Producers' Association) Piracy Vigilance Forum?

When I assumed office, I could control the cable operators. Almost 80 per cent of these operators listened to me, whether owing to my position or out of respect. Now, video parlours have become players in this regard, add this to the CDs we get mainly from Malaysia and Dubai - it was a very difficult situation to control. We needed the police and the government's cooperation, but unfortunately, there wasn't substantial cooperation from them; they had other issues which were more important and serious than piracy.

Is that why you resigned from the Piracy Vigilance Forum?

I formed my own academy where I could involve people from other associations. While I was in IMPAA, people from other associations were apprehensive of supporting me. I want to give better results for the welfare of the industry with this academy. I needed more active participation. We have just started. Give me some time. I am trying my best. We have conducted many raids in video parlours.

These people are not easy to deal with. You shut their shop; the next week they re-emerge. We want the producers to cooperate as well; they need to take control of their print security because most of the piracy happens before the film is released, during the time of preview etc. Cops and politicians must join the battle in a bigger way. Crores of industry money is going down the drain on almost a regular basis. It's a long, difficult journey. But I am hopeful.

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