How did you come up with the concept of Aap Ki Kachehri?
The potential for Court TV has always been there. Its been around in the US for decades. The challenge was to develop a format that could work on a general entertainment channel in India, within the ambit of our laws, unfold and resolve each dispute with clarity, yet have sufficient human interest. The team was committed, and we were fortunate that the team at STAR saw the potential and had the courage to slot it on prime time.
For someone who is a master of game shows, what does a show like Aap Ki Kachehri mean, in terms of logistics?
Whats common to all the projects we do at Synergy is systematic development, a thorough back-end, and rich content. For Aap Ki Kachehri, theres a team of counsellors who are in the field and deal with disputants who are often bitterly conflicted, angry and suffering. Theres an editorial team which sifts through the material, and a legal cell, in conjunction with which briefs are prepared. Its a painstaking process, and since these are real people with real disputes, it remains volatile and fissile till its done. There are many dropouts and disputants get cold feet at the very last moment. Yet, we never insist on participation, as it is entirely voluntary.
Did Kiran Bedi come first or the concept? What does she bring on board?
The idea of the show was cooking for a while when the thought of having Kiran Bedi as the mediator came up. Typically, she responded with alacrity, as its in sync with her work in the social sector, and in keeping with the passion she has for justice and social harmony. The perception of her being fair, frank and fearless is strong, she is a passionate communicator, and brings a lot of credibility to the forum.
Was it difficult to line up the cases? How did you zero in on them?
The counsellors work in the field, often through NGOs and agencies working on alternate dispute redressal, legal aid, and literacy. Also people may approach the forum through phone lines, email and website that are publicised on the show. It is never easy to convince second parties, but patient counselling can bring both parties to mediation.
Were you expecting the kind of success Aap Ki Kachehri has achieved?
Frankly, the success of the show has come as a huge relief and a surprise to me and the Synergy team, as it runs completely counter to the stranglehold of soaps on primetime TV. Its also most satisfying for those of us with a social conscience.
Do you think a show like Aap Ki Kachehri can actually prompt people to take a TV show seriously as their helpline?
Aap Ki Kachehri is essentially a forum for alternate redressal of disputes. The idea is not at all to replace the courts or to encourage litigious behaviour, but to promote social harmony through the example of others, and to help a better understanding of laws, rights, duties and issues of equity.
Do you expect a slew of similar shows to come up following the success of the show?
Possibly. If it opens the gates to reality without faking, manipulation or sensationalisation, and deals with real issues and ordinary people, it would be a most welcome trend.
What are your future plans with the show?
So far the cases have been mostly from in and around Delhi, where the programme is recorded, but we are hoping to reach out and take the Kachehri to different cities.
[STAR Plus has also started a helpline for Aap Ki Kachehri. The number is 022-66157735]