Today, audiences are slot loyal and not TV loyal: JD Majethia

According to Majethia, feel-good shows are the strength of Hats Off Productions.

MUMBAI: Jamnadas Majethia, better known as JD, started his career as a theatre artist and has been active in the Gujarati theatre scene for over two decades. The actor/producer teamed up with his close friend Aatish Kapadia and launched the joint venture Hats Off Productions in year 2001-2002. Their first co-production Khichdi was followed by Sarabhai vs. Sarabhai and a host of hit comedy shows on television. Now, the studio is back with a new avatar of the beloved legacy show Wagle Ki Duniya – Nayi Peedhi, Naye Kissey, which is airing on Sony Sab.

Comedy and family values have always been at the core of the works they’ve created, shared Majethia. Feel good shows are the strength of Hats Off Productions, as he believes this kind of content can be watched together as a family.

Said he: “We have always received a great amount of respect, adulation and love from audiences. Hats Off Productions is a team of passionate people who believe in giving progressive content to their audiences. Relationships, warmth, creating memories and emotions are the elements that work well in India and so we always try to work around these factors. Our shows Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and Khichdi are two decades old but they still resonate today and are loved by audiences. Audiences have kept this show alive that is what we strive for.”

Apart from the iconic and memorable Khichdi and Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, he has experimented with formats outside his forte of comedy, such as family dramas (Baa Bahu Aur Baby, Jasuben Jayantilaal Joshi Ki Joint Family, Sukh By Chance, Behenein), romance (Chintu Chinki Aur Ek Badi Si Love Story, Ek Doosre Se Karte Hain Pyaar Hum) and supernatural/fantasy (Bakula Bua Ka Bhoot, Badi Dooooor Se Aaye Hai).  

Explaining how majority of his shows based on family values have worked well among the different genres that he has produced to date, Majethia said, “Viewers only have half an hour to enjoy our show, in that specific time period we need to catch their attention and  provide them wholesome entertainment. In today’s time content is the king, it is important to come up with fresh ideas which are also engaging.”

Majethia believes that today audiences have a myriad of options, from TV loyalty the focus has been shifted to slot loyalty. He opined that earlier one channel used to dominate all the slots. But now things are changing, audiences are programme loyal. More than the brand, the content is working, which works in the favour of production houses. Be it comedy, horror, crime, thriller, daily soaps, historical or mythology, each of these genres works well among viewers, he explained.

On Wagle Ki Duniya reboot

The opportunity to bring back popular sitcom Wagle Ki Duniya, which aired on DD National from 1988 to 1990, landed before him almost like an act of providence, quipped Majethia.

“We were working on a show with middle class and higher middle class backdrop. It was almost finalised when Sony Sab business head Neeraj Vyas called Majethia to re-adapt Wagle Ki Duniya. Interestingly, on the same night he received a call from RK Lakshman’s daughter in law Usha Lakshman. Considering this as the universe’s calling, I went ahead with the story. Earlier the show had only 19 episodes and Usha Lakshman wanted to utilise those episodes. But it has very little scope when it came to creation. That is when the makers decided to create a programme all together with a new format,” he detailed.

Along with his co-partner Kapadia, he created a bank of pilot episodes which got an instant thumbs-up from the Sony Sab team. However, the biggest challenge is to create fresh episodes every single day. Unlike other daily soaps, there is no scope for stretching the content or utilising previous shots and the existing library.

Explaining on how this version is going to be different, Majethia remarked, “In those days what RK Lakshman created was the story of a common man, we have taken that same story a notch higher. The issues are more pertinent to today’s time. He is addressing the real challenge of feeding his family, raising kids, taking care of parents in the pandemic. He wants his family to have a happy lifestyle, but his income is not sufficient and he is also not a risk taker. So, the story is about how he manages everything simultaneously. Our motto is to make people understand that ultimately life is all about being happy and creating new memories.”

With a change in generation, the protagonist in the new series will face a newer set of dilemmas and challenges. The show will also showcase the progression in the lives of the middle-class in the country. While Aanjjan Srivastav and Bharti Achrekar will reprise their roles of Srinivas and Radhika Wagle, Sumeet Raghvan and Pariva Pranati will play the new lead couple along with child artist Sheehan Kapahi and Chinmayi Salvi.

Earlier, Wagle Ki Duniya was filmed in a small house but now, in step with contemporary norms, the team has shot the show in a two-bedroom flat. The entire set is in Mumbai’s Mira Road where they have created a house, society garden and an office. They have also created multi-utility rooms with all the technical assistance to make the work much more efficient. Behind Wagle Ki Duniya – Nayi Peedhi, Naye Kissey there is a strong team of ten writers including Majethia and Kapadia and headed by Jayesh Patil. The show is directed by Sameer Kulkarni.

Hats Off Production is also working on its latest drama Janani for In10 Media’s new Hindi GEC Ishara. Supriya Pilgaonkar is essaying the lead role. In the near future, Majethia said he wishes to work on non-fiction shows.

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