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“Mini-series is the way forward”: Vipul A Shah

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MUMBAI: He started his career as a director with a soap opera called Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka on Sony Entertainment Television (SET) in the year 1999. It was the first Hindi fiction series to reach the landmark of 1000 episodes and is considered as one of the longest-running television serials of Indian television.

After that, there was no looking back for Vipul Amrutlal Shah, who has given the film industry hit movies like Aankhen (2002), Waqt: The Race Against Time (2005), Namastey London (2007), London Dreams (2009) and Action Replay (2010) as a director. He has also produced movies like Singh Is King, Force, Commando and Holiday.  

The producer cum director is back to the small screen, and this time with an action series Pukaar – Call for the Hero on Life OK.

In the second of the Content Hub series, Indiantelevision.com had a quick chat with Vipul Shah to understand his views on the growth of content over the years and what the audience expects from a director/producer.

According to Shah, the larger issue with television content is that it is static. “We have got stuck into the rut where we feel that the audience just wants to see the saas-bahu soaps and that is the only way forward. I don’t think that is right,” he says.

He believes that audiences are not stagnant and they move forward even before the creators of the show realise. “There was a time when daily soaps would clock a TRP of 20 plus. Today the number one show is five or a little more than that. This only suggests that the number of viewers watching the series is no longer the same.”

With most television content packed with saas-bahu soaps, Shah feels that somewhere the television audience is losing interest. “And largely, producers are to be blamed for not creating different content. I think the time has come where channels and producers need to realise and give a new dimension to the work we are doing.”

He wants the television industry to evolve and think beyond saas-bahu soaps. With its new series being a bi-weekly and a finite one (slated for 24 episodes), he says that the audience is looking out for something new always. According to Shah, mini-series is the way forward. “Internationally, it is the way. We are going to move forward with mini-series,” he adds.

He strongly believes that Indian content has the ability to travel abroad. Shah informs that his directorial debut Aankhen was going to be made in Hollywood as well. “We had almost sold our rights to a Hollywood studio. My producer messed up the deal; otherwise Aankhen would have been the first film to travel to Hollywood.”

Shah states that we should not worry too much about what Hollywood wants and should concentrate on the Indian market. “If we are able to satisfy the 125 crore people in India, the whole world will come to us,” he opines.

Talking about creative freedom from the broadcasters end, Shah says that he has always been given absolute freedom. “Nobody has ever told me anything in terms of how I should write or direct.”

As a maker, Shah is open to look at concepts which are new, dynamic, challenging and fun to execute.

For the background, Content Hub brings together writers, creators, producers, artistes and broadcast executives, both for TV and digital on one platter. The initiative is aimed at established professionals, newbies and anyone who is keen on taking the plunge into the fascinating world of writing, producing and creating for television and the digital space.

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