Nivedita Basu. Does the name sound familiar? Of course, it does! I am referring to the creative mind that has spent the last two decades handling and producing Hindi Television’s most beloved shows. Now a channel head at Atrangii TV, I decided to interview the fellow creative executive and also producer on her journey, the ups and downs of the Hindi Television industry and what the future for Hindi Television and general content holds.
What inspired you to work in television production?
“Honestly, Television production happened by chance, so prior to being a creative director at Balaji I was working at Channel V and then one fine day they decided to turn into a music channel. At the same time there came an opportunity where someone told me Jeetendra’s daughter is doing something on television production and why don’t you join? So, a meeting was arranged which happened by fluke and eventually the rest is history. Balaji became an integral part of my career journey.” Says Nivedita
Tell us about your experience of working in Balaji Telefilms. What were the challenges like and how did you deal with the pressures of managing multiple shows?
“Working at Balaji was certainly an amazing experience and people don’t realise that I had joined prior to Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi went on air. At the same time, people often don’t realise that Ekta and myself wouldn’t go home for multiple days simply because we were busy with multiple shows and had to manage all the success that was coming our way given the responses of all the serials during that time.” Responds Nivedita.
What has been your favourite show to creatively handle in your career?
“In my opinion I think the first show you independently handle will always be the most special and so for me it was Kasautii Zindagii Kii. This show gave me the hope that I can successfully work in television production given the success and legacy that the show has created. Kasautii Zindagii Kii really helped me learn the art of storytelling, a skill that I gained in the creative process of handling the show.” Says Nivedita.
If you could implement changes within the industry, what would you like to change and why?
“If I have to change something in the industry it would have to be making things professional by standardising working hours and remuneration. The industry needs a restructuring in terms of the way employees are treated especially when it comes to salaries being variable and not fixed so when you leave one place and join another, it seems as if you have to start from the bottom again and people don’t see your prior experience and take that into account. Why is it that we have to constantly prove ourselves despite our extensive body of work? So yes, this is something I’d like to standardise and make fairer.” Responds Nivedita.
Where do you think the Hindi TV industry is headed next?
“A lot of people say things like because OTT is here, TV will die. However, what people don’t realise is that India is a country that is home to 1.3 billion people and we’ve yet to reach the most rural parts of the country. So, whilst we are moving towards web, TV will continue to stay and still has a long way to go. Consumers from previous generations such as our grandparents and parents are not tech savvy and will continue to watch shows in the appointment viewing format. Also, just in the same way radio hasn’t died when TV became popular in India, the same way TV will not die if OTT becomes the next big thing, all mediums will eventually co-exist and that is what we aim to do via Atrangii.” Says Nivedita.
Finally, what are your thoughts on international competition particularly from Turkey and Korea. Are Hindi Serials viably competitive?
“Turkey and Korea did good shows even back in the day, I just think the reason they are doing well right now is because they have the international platforms that have allowed these shows to be viewed all over the world. Hindi shows have a long way to go in that respect but I don’t think it’s impossible. This is exactly what I and my team on Atrangii are aiming to do, producing short-form content that is edgier and dynamic and most importantly different. Atrangii TV is an experiment in itself and we hope it continues to do well so we can push for more innovative and dynamic content to then change the landscape on TV.” Responds Nivedita.