Hemal Ashok Thakkar wears not one but many hats. Known for producing popular television shows like Teen Bahuraniyaan, Laagi Tujhse Lagan, Jeevan Saathi: Humsafar Zindagi Ke among others, Thakkar not only established himself as a producer but also an avid theatre lover. Currently on a tour with his play ‘An Evening With Krishna’, Hemal Thakkar has produced Tigmanshu Dhulia’s directorial political thriller series Garmi. In an exclusive interaction with News18 Showsha, Thakkar talked about joining forces with Tigmanshu Dhulia, why Garmi would resound with the viewers, the future of content creation and more.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Garmi is your first full-fledged OTT series in the context of being a producer, what were some things that really compelled you to come on board for this series?
As a producer right from the time i heard the idea from Tishu bhai (Tigmanshu Dhulia) and Kamal Pandey I was hooked and was sure that I wanted this to be our launch for OTT. I was sure that this content would be exciting to make and watch and biggest compelling part of this was it is helmed by Tigmanshu Dhulia the master story teller and director.
What were your equations with Tigmanshu Dhulia during the course of journey? Share your experiences regarding this collaboration and how it was an enlightening experiment for you working with him and producing a show for OTT.
I have loved this journey of page to stage with Tishu bhai, his passion is infectious he scripts and sculpts the episodes before the execution, his detail for characters and the treatment adds fragrance to the world he designs. Equation with him grew with passion as we progressed in the show to create finest version of the world which we had envisioned.
One thing that totally stands out for Garmi is the cast. With no big or leading names, the trailer still managed to pack a punch and connect with the viewers. So as opposed to producers who want prominent or known faces in their project, what made you take a chance on up and coming actors? And whether you were comfortable or nervous with that aspect?
I am too confident with that aspect. As a producer I have believed that there is lot of potential in new talent and to add to that Tishu bhai is a Guru in that aspect of it. All these kids are fortunate and lucky to be given a break with him as a director and mentor he has worked and beautifully sculpted each character in them and they are shining in its glory and to add, Mukesh Chabbra has done a fantastic job handpicking this talent for the show. And we are at top the world for these bunch of actors.
What was the most challenging and demanding task for you as a producer in Garmi?
Production is a demanding job in each aspect and its a invisible force hardly recognised which makes it for smooth running of the process of achieving the vision of the show less chaotic, smooth and keeps the entire unit focused on the objective. I would say couple of things got us more challenges were the location which he had thought off as the story demanded the realism and one more incident when due to heavy rains we had to dismantle our passionately created set for the play in the show.
Why do you think a show like Garmi would resound with the viewers? What are some of the elements of the series that you think can really make waves among the audience?
Its set in real world, its conflict are in real world. All the characters are believable, its hero Arvind Shukla is today’s hero with today’s problem and very very important thing which i personally love about “Garmi” is its language. After a long time audience will get to enjoy well written and well spoken Hindi.
For the most part, you’ve produced some really popular television shows. And television shows in general are quite family friendly. Compared to that, the OTT space is unregulated and has content riddled with expletives, cuss words, explicit scenes etc. So being a producer of Garmi, were you concerned about these things? That whether it will cause a backlash? And whether it will change people’s perception about you as a producer?
To understand it better TV content is more of family watching content and OTT content mostly is consumed in the personal space so obviously there is that difference in consumption plus each show is self censored by the production house and the platform itself so for audience they have a clear choice. As for content made for OTT platforms are more real in nature and so are dialogues so i guess this is bound to be but of course one should not over do it for effect, self regulation is important.
To add to that question, what are some of the differences that you encountered while producing a show for OTT as opposed to a show on television. As a producer, which platform is tougher to materialize?
Basic difference is very clear. TV content is more women led, Romantic with family drama. It doesn’t go beyond that. It stays in the space and it stays in that space forever. OTT content has diversity and variety, powerful story telling having great scope for production, writing , direction, performance, it wont last beyond certain seasons , scope for creative excellence is much higher for creating content for platforms.
I am reviewing Garmi and I have watched six episodes. And I am thoroughly intrigued and invested in the series for a couple of reasons. One being that I come from Allahabad and it tells the story of Allahabad University and second, it nowhere feels rushed or unrealistic. Having said that, for those who are eagerly waiting for the series to air, what should they be expecting? What should they be gearing up for?
Exactly for same reasons the narrative is treated in a particular way the visual impact also with dialogues makes you want to hear and keeps one glued to visuals . As a viewer i have noticed that mostly concentration is only on visual impact but with this we also hear the story. Realistic characters and Realistic treatment sets the tone for such earthy youth centric content.
As an experienced producer who has been in the industry for such a long time, how do you see the viewing habits of people shaping up in the coming times? In terms of OTT, mainstream cinema and television? Where are we headed?
Across all mediums we are headed for excellence in Content creation , No more can you take audience for granted gone are the days where a star actor , director or producer could exploit their brands and make buisness . Now its about how well we understand our audiences and our content which we create will be the success and after that success we will have to come back to Zero yet again to prove our sensibilities.
Tell us something about your play ‘An Evening With Krishna’. And about the reception it has received from the tour?
“An Evening with Krishna” is my realised dream. I wanted to make a musical for the longest time and what better then a Krishna story. Each time I watched a musical in London, I wished to make one and audience across the country had been wanting a change in live theatre experience and its received so well where ever its performed. In Mimbai we have performed maximum shows and we have audiences who have watched it 5 times already.
You’re a prominent name in the theatre circuit. Why do you love this medium and how has it evolved over the years from the time you started to the present times? What is the future of Indian Theatre?
I love this medium cause its ayurveda of any performing art medium . In theatre we have nothing its bare in the creative form neither do we have a fixed audience we put up a show and we wait for audiences to buy the ticket and since its realtime live production no retakes nothing and when your audiences appreciate the bare real art it fills you with gratitude . You become a better performer and even a better person with each performance.
Indian theatre has evolved a lot but yes one common complaint is we need more equipped auditoriums in the country for better tomorrow . If we look around there are so many stories and expressions which has evolved in theatre. Theatre needs support, it needs to be encouraged more right from schools. We have a fantastic rich history in Marathi, Gujrati and Bengali lot of original plays have been performed.
One very big thing has just happened in theatre is the launching of “Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Theatre”. This cultural center is going to be a future of dramatics. Its going to change, upgrade and support the new age theatre. I wish O was 20 now or I had something like this 20 years back. It would have been magical. “NMACC” is going to pioneer in the future generation theatre professionals. In few years, we will
see some magical talent coming from there.
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