He started his career as a spot boy and today, he is one of the most sought after directors on television. In his twenty-four year old journey in television, Deepak Vithoba Chavan has directed some of the biggest shows on the small screen. In this interview, he talks about his long and eventful journey, the experience of working with Ekta Kapoor, the difference between television and web and the desire to make a film.
You have directed some of the biggest shows on TV. Where did your journey begin?
My journey started with television in 1994. For the first six months, I was a spot boy. Then, I joined Neena Gupta’s production house as an assistant and worked on shows like ‘Dard’ and ‘Gumrah’, ‘Saans’, ‘Son Pari’ and Pal Chinn’. Shyam Maheshwari, who was directing a show for Balaji Telefilms asked me to join him. I got my first break as a second unit director in Balaji Telefilms and the first show I worked on was ‘Kuchh Jhuki Palkain’. My first show as an independent director was ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’. I happened to direct a small chunk for the show and Ekta liked my work so much that she asked me to continue directing the show. After that, I did ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii’, ‘Kasamh Se’, ‘Kussum’, ‘Kaahin Kissii Roz’, Kasautii Zindagii Kay’, ‘Kasamh Se’ and several other shows for them.
You have worked with Ekta Kapoor on so many shows. How has been the experience of working with her and Balaji Telefilms?
For me, Balaji Telefilms is like my family. My main journey started from there. I learnt everything about television while working in the company. Earlier we used to shoot in bungalows. Balaji started the trend of putting up large, lavish sets. Nobody had the kind of vision which Ekta had. Television was earlier set in a very realistic space. Ekta brought glamour to it. TV shows started looking like films.
Which has been your most favourite show till date?
All the shows I have done are very close to my heart. But, I can name three shows as my favourites for different reasons. ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ will always be the most iconic show on television and it was also my first show as an independent director. I had some great memories of working on ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii’. I had directed the initial episodes of ‘Udaan’ and contributed significantly towards setting it up. It will always be remembered as one of the successful show on Colors.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a TV director?
The biggest challenge in television is to direct similar scenes differently. Today, you direct a scene and two months down the line, you get a similar scene to work on. You have to make sure that it does not look similar or repetitive. Television is like a newspaper. Films are like novel. TV stars are going to smaller cites to promote their shows these days. Setting up a show or directing the first 25-40 episodes is also quite a challenge. Everything is about the TRPs and it is difficult to predict what the audience is going to like. Films are based on the director’s vision but television is based on different people’s opinions and viewpoints. The channel, production house and several other people are involved in making every major decision. I have worked in television for twenty-four years. Technically, television gives you the scope to experiment with a few things. It is okay if you did not get a particular camera angle or the background score right in a particular episode. But when you commit a mistake in a film, people notice and remember it for a long time.
Digital or the OTT platforms have emerged in a huge way. A lot of people they are a major threat to television. Do you agree?
No, I do not think the digital platform is a threat to television. They are two different mediums. If you go to a village or a very small town, most people are not aware of what is happening on television. Even in big cities, only a few people watch content on digital platforms. Maybe after 10-15 years, it can pose a competition to television but I do not think television will ever fade away. Once the audience connects with the emotion, it stays loyal to the show. That is why the first 30-40 episodes are important. Film stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Anil Kapoor made some really good shows like ‘Yudh’ and ‘24’ on television but they did not click with the audience. The reason was that they did not suit the taste of the television watching audience. Attempting to do something different is a big risk on television. You have to adhere to a certain formula while making a TV show
Do you have any intention to make a film?
I tried to make a film in 2009. I even started shooting it but things did not go as planned and I had to shelve it. I have a bunch of scripts ready and I am waiting for the right producer. You have to work with the right person who can ensure the right release for the film. Releasing a film is far more difficult than making it. Right now, I am completely busy with directing ‘Kumkum Bhagya’. Once I get some time off from television, I go through the scripts I have with me and try to make a film.