“Bad TV shows responsible for the popularity of digital content”
The Times Litfest, one of the nation’s premier literature festivals, has partnered with Brookfield Properties to welcome acclaimed actor, writer and director Anant Mahadevan. Mahadevan, who has spent more than four decades in the industry, recounted some of his first-hand experiences with filmmakers who were the founding fathers of the television series in his memoir. “It was prime time”
When legendary film director and producer BR Chopra chose famous Urdu poet Rahi Masoom Raza to write the Mahabharat screenplay for Doordarshan, it didn’t work out well with the top officials there.
âMany found it offensive that a non-Hindu with limited knowledge of a major Sanskrit epic from ancient India like the Mahabharata would write his screenplay. But Mr. Chopra was adamant that he only had Raza Sahab as his screenwriter if the show had to be done. He also asked senior management to take care of the narration of the show “, said Anant Mahadevan, screenwriter and renowned actor during the reading session of his book” Once Upon a Prime Time â.
Mahadevan mentioned that Mr. Chopra even assured that he would delete the show, if the officials didn’t like the storytelling. âAll the officials were stunned by the finesse that Raza sahab brought to the epic story. He recounted nearly four episodes of the series to a mesmerized audience. It was approved unanimously and the rest, as you say, is history, âhe said.
The book reading session was part of Times Litfest which has over the past few years become a platform for the exchange of views on literature and books attracting authors, filmmakers, theater artists and thinkers prominent in the country and the world.
This year, Times Litfest has partnered with Brookfield Properties organize offline sessions to deliver unique experiences and engagements that foster a ubiquitous approach and
open culture on its campuses in India. The digital session with massive programming from over 100 Indian and international authors such as Jeffrey Archer, Douglas Stuart, Tom Holland, Elif Shafak, Salman Rushdie, Devdutt Pattanaik, Dr Shashi Tharoor, Gaur Gopal Das, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Amish Tripathi, Shobhaa De, Anita Nair, with over 70 sessions, this year’s Times Litfest is bigger than ever.
In ‘Once Upon A Prime Time’, Mahadevan wrote down her memories and experiences of her trip to Indian television over the past four decades. be grossly unfair because my trip coincided with that of Indian television, âhe said.
Speaking of the Indian TV trip, Mahadevan said that in 1983 two important events took place. âThere were Asian Games in New Delhi and in the same year with the introduction of color television, the government decided to market the television content to foreigners,â Mahadevan explained.
He informed that until this year the content was moderated by people who worked in Doordarshan. âThe filmmakers therefore entered an area that was foreign to them in terms of grammar and format. We had legends like Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Sai Paranjpye, Basu Chatterjee, Kundan Shah, Ravi Chopra, Ramesh Sippy, Aziz Mirza, Gulzar and Govind Nihalani who decided to experiment in a format that was not their field â, a he declared.
Mahadevan explained that the content on Indian television has deteriorated over the years. âYou can’t blame the creators of the show either. In the age of daily broadcasts, the quality of content is bound to take a hit. Today we have the worst type of soap operas on television, âhe said.
However, he revealed that this is mainly the reason why digital platforms are becoming so popular now. âViewers have the option to reject content they don’t like and turn to content with good content. We’re going back to the 13-episode digital seasons that first started in 1983, âhe said.
Mahadevan also said it is a misconception that people have started liking content that is abusive or of a violent nature. âPeople always reject such violent content.
During the lockdown, with no new content being generated, the channels resorted to classics like Ramayana and Mahabharata which had a huge TRP most of which were from the younger generation, âhe informed .
He added that his book does not have a specific format but is written in a way that touches the special moments of several award-winning celebrities. âI believe this is an Indian TV trip and it may be the first story written on Indian TV,â Mahadevan said.
Parul Thakur, Senior Vice President, Collaborators said, Collaborators has reinvented the potential of flexible workspace solutions, providing collaborative spaces and thoughtful experiences to develop growth and communities of like-minded individuals.
âOur partnership with Times Litfest is redefining how people and places can come together to support wellness, arts, culture and diversity, allowing our tenants to effortlessly grow beyond the traditional setup offices, âshe said.
The event was organized at Collaborators in Powai, Bombay.
For more details on Times Litfest, log on to www.timeslitfest.com