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'I feel like a winner'

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The Telegraph Online   |   Published 09.02.09, 12:00 AM

Sara Khan and Parul Chauhan in Bidaai

With Bidaai regaining the top slot and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai off to a rocking start, producer-director Rajan Shahi is the big man of primetime television. A t2 chat…

Two successful shows in the primetime slot. How does it feel?

It’s pretty unbelievable, to be honest. I am elated with the reception that the audience has given — first to Bidaai and now to Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. I want to thank each and every viewer out there who has contributed towards the success of these shows.

When you started out with Bidaai a year-and-a-half ago, did you expect it to be so big so soon?

Not at all. I always knew that I wanted to make a good show that a family could sit together and watch. I never knew that Bidaai would bring in such mind-boggling TRPs. As a director, I have been associated with some popular shows like Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin, Saat Phere and Mamta, but the huge viewership that Bidaai has garnered has been unprecedented. The fact that it was my debut serial as producer has made Bidaai’s success all the more special.

Looking back, what do you think worked in Bidaai’s favour?

For starters, a very strong and fresh script. Also, Bidaai was the only primetime show that came in minus any gimmicks and that is something that we have stuck to. The plot and situations are drawn from real life. Everything about the show is very earthy, very rooted. The average viewer can relate very easily to the show. Direction, the performances, the music, the editing, every department came together beautifully in Bidaai. Also, I was always very clear about the fact that I wanted girls-next-door for the central characters of Sadhana and Ragini. And Sara (Khan) and Parul (Chauhan) were the perfect choices. Every Indian woman — whether in the small towns or the big cities — identifies with these girls. And yes, Bidaai is the only show where the camera doesn’t move or act more than the actors! (laughs)

For Bidaai, you must have been swamped with positive feedback. But which is that one feedback that stands out in your mind?

I think that would have to be the one from my dad who lives in Delhi. He had never watched any of my previous serials, be it Jassi or Saat Phere. But he once managed to catch an episode of Bidaai and he called me up after the show to say how proud he felt that I was associated with a show like this. That was the best reward for me. Also, whenever a viewer comes up to me and says how Bidaai has helped him to value human relationships and instilled sanskaar in his children, makes me feel like a winner.

Rajan Shahi (right) with Karan Mehra and Heena Khan of Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai

How are you planning to sustain the interest factor?

With the audience already having forged a strong bond with the show and its characters, we really don’t have to resort to gimmicks like killing off someone or throwing in a thriller angle to sustain interest in Bidaai. Thank God for that! With Ragini’s wedding which is being aired currently, the show will move into a new phase. When I first sat down to pen the script of Bidaai a year-and-a-half ago, the story actually began with Ragini’s wedding and her life after she enters a new home. So, the real story of Bidaai will only start now and the audiences have a lot to look forward to.

Coming to Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, do you expect it to go as big as Bidaai?

The TRP in the opening week has been 6.1 which is huge for any new show. Yeh Rishta…is a lot like Bidaai in terms of the values that it propagates and the treatment of the plot and characters, but is set against a more lavish backdrop. It is the story of how two strangers discover love in an arranged marriage. The simplicity of the show should appeal to the audience. It has a lot of expectation to live up to, but I am a firm believer in the fact that good work and sincere intentions are always rewarded.

What next?

All my time is now taken up with these two shows. I have, however, started work on a third show which would be in the same genre, but would be vastly different from both Bidaai and Yeh Rishta. The announcement for the show will be in March.

Priyanka Roy



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