Babumoshayees gets candid with BollywoodLife on her debut as a producer and team owner.
The feisty lady has been associated with some of the legendary shows of Indian Televis
Nivedita Basu: It’s only the senior actors who are willing to wait for good roles
ion. In a lengthy chat, she talks about her new venture in Box Cricket League, her new show Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai and industry trends
Considered as the right hand man of TV’s czarina, Ekta Kapoor, Nivedita Basu is one of the forces behind the successful ‘K’ shows and many other programmes. She turned into an independent producer in 2015 forming her firm, The House of Originals and is an owner of a cricket team in Box Cricket League, Kolkata Babumoshayees. Excerpts from an interview:
Where you always interested in cricket?
Not really…my parents were huge cricket fans. Cricket was the only sport I never played. I was the sports captain of my school and played all the racquet games. What got me hooked to BCL was the fact that even the girls were playing. The idea of women taking to the field got me interested.
This year BCL is a lot bigger. What was the idea?
The whole idea was conceptualized at my place (smiles). Last year, it was on a smaller scale with friends playing with each other. However, we made it a property by getting support from a number of actors and members of the media. This year, we have teams and when the promoters told Ekta Kapoor about the idea, she loved it. She thought it was a Bigg Boss of sorts (laughs out loud).
Your team Kolkata Babumoshayees is going to Dubai. Do you feel properties like BCL help in building a brand for Indian Television abroad?
The main sponsor of BCL is also a sponsor for Masters Cricket League team Libra Legends. There is a lot of traction on the digital media or social media for BCL. When we take it abroad to a platform like MCL, it conveys that BCL is about cricket but it is also a lot of fun. The following of TV actors on social media is far higher than that of film actors. When a channel buys a property like BCL, it plays across a number of platforms. People love to see an onscreen bahu play against her onscreen devar.
You are producing a show, Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai and also managing a cricket team. How do you balance it out?
I managed eight shows simultaneously at Balaji. I am also playing cricket with my team in the BCL. When I stepped into a producer’s shoes, I made sure I had a great team backing me – people I have worked with before. Their efforts are commendable. Likewise, in cricket I have people to look after varied aspects. The hallmark of a good leader is the capacity to delegate. Inshallah, I will be able to handle four to five properties soon.
For someone who has worked with long-running soaps why did you choose a finite series for your debut?If you notice then stability is slowly vanishing from all channels. In past six months, we have seen varied shows coming on same time slots in different channels. There is little stability for a producer. The audience has become very fickle. A finite show is like a film. I worked as a creative director on 24 and found the idea of telling a story for a fixed time a very interesting one. All of us watch American shows. The idea of making a show that will air for five days for six months is a safer one. Plus, channels are now open to experiments. You know you need an actor only for six months. There is more quality control in terms of acting, production and writing.
Was Amrita Rao your first choice for the role?
We were thinking about quite a few actors. When we met Amrita Rao we found that she looked as sweet as she did in her Vivaah days. Moreover, she was missing from action since a while. Our first meeting was brilliant. Vikas (Vikas Gupta), I and others bounced off the idea. All of us were on the same page about casting her.
Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai has the music industry as its backdrop. Why did you choose that field?
I am a musician myself. I had been handling the music for all shows of Balaji. Vikas and I had been dabbling with this idea for a really long time. Now, we are independent and I am freelancing for Balaji. He revived the idea and we felt the timing was right. He is also deeply into music.
What do the new BARC Ratings mean for producers?
There is a clear trend with the GECs going to the interiors. So, we will see infinite daily soaps for that audience. However, with digital media gaining prominence, every channel will look at few slots for an urban crowd. It is a very exciting time for content makers. In GECs, the format is more traditional. Yes, Ekta’s Naagin rocked as the concept appeals to the urban and rural audience. It was her father’s film and she wanted to make it for the longest time. She hit the right buttons with the show.
Do you feel producers feel restricted while creating content due to the ratings system?
In GECs, people do look at the interior audience. Our show, Itna Karo Na Pyaar got a rating of 1.2 on Sony TV, which was great for its time slot and channel. I would love to do another show like that. However, it’s the Yeh Hai Mohabbatein or Sasural Simar Ka that rules the interior region. Yes, in a GEC space, a channel gets revenue only from shows that perform well so there is pressure on producers to deliver. However, with digital media coming in, we will see shorter formats as well.
What does it take to succeed in this field?
I think it is about timing. We need to have an edge over others. I can’t say that hard work and dedication will reap rewards as there are a number of people doing that at the same place. You need that extra acumen.
Do you feel that TV actors don’t get roles as per their talent?
See, the exposure of TV stars has gone up tremendously. They are on twitter, facebook and Insta. They also earn from shows and appearances. Yes, quality wise we have gone down. I would love to replicate some of the old shows. We must realize that the audience base has seen a shift from 2002 to 2015. Earlier, we had the classes watching TV, now shows talk about girls who don’t have money to eat. I see it’s the older actors who are willing to wait for good roles. Younger ones are ready to jump the bandwagon for the perks this industry offers. Also, they can’t afford to wait as there are 100s vying for the same role. Once a show is successful, people want to duplicate it. So, original roles are rare.
Has social media made life easier for creatives in TV?
It might be working for those who deal with youth shows but otherwise it is not of much help. There are times when I have taken audience reaction but that has not helped. Digital is great for youth shows but such feedback is inconsequential for shows on GECs. Makers do a lot od research but it is hard to pinpoint what works. It creates a lot of pressure, social media.
What kind of shows do you watch?
I saw Bloodline on Netflix recently. I love Narcos. Ekta and I have been lapping up American TV since years – that’s where we get a lot of ideas from. As a kid, I loved Mahabharat and later shows like Campus and Banegi Apni Baat. In this line, you have to read a lot or watch a lot of soaps.