Binaiferr Kohli has been one of the topmost producers of independent TV shows in India. She is known for her comedy shows ‘Bhabiji Ghar Par Hai’, ‘F.I.R.’ and ‘Happu Ki Ultan Paltan’. She has been successfully producing comedy shows for many years now along with Sanjay Kohli. ‘Bhabiji Ghar Par Hai has been running since 2015. ‘F.I.R’ had been there for nine years. The Kohlis have managed to bring a certain sense of relatability to the independent filmmaking scene in Indian television.
Talking to Prateek Sur, Binaiferr Kohli opens up about how independent producers are different in the TV industry than they are in the film industry. She even speaks up about how the budgets are cutthroat for indie show-makers and therefore they have to get a lot of things sanctioned from the channel before going ahead. Excerpts from the conversation:
In films, there are big production houses and studios as well as independent filmmakers. But in TV almost all producers are independent and work on strict budgets etc. How different is producing a TV show for an independent producer from producing a film?
The independent producers take on much more because the staff level is a little less than a big studio. You can’t make huge money because you are working on a very small budget unless you are the biggest production house in the country. You have to work within timelines, otherwise, the loss is yours.
In India, is there enough reception for independent films or shows with small budgets?
Yes, in India there is enough reception for independent films and shows with small budgets. We have produced some of the best independent shows, especially in comedy. Sanjay Kohli is known as the king of comedy and we have no backing from big studios and production houses but yes, we have the backing through channels and some of the people with whom we have worked are the best people in the industry and they know who they are backing.
You’ve produced some of the best independent shows without the backing of some big studio or production house. What is that thing that you would have done differently had you had money backed by a big studio like YRF Or Dharma, etc?
I would have built in some bigger sequences but I would have not taken any risks. Any money that comes to me I treat it like my own money. I feel if someone has trusted me and given me then I should give them the value for money. Even if it was YRF or Dharma, my sequences would have been bigger with a definite vision to get that TRP. I would have done more outdoors and travelled for special sequences. We have done and have shot an entire serial in Dubai for a month, but with a big studio backing your mind is more at peace and I would have made a cracker of the movie.
Visual effects have been helping big-budget films and shows achieve their goals, but how does a small independent producer, who may have a grand vision, be able to do VFX at par but at a lesser budget?
Independent producers can do VFX for their projects but for that, you have to take a special sanction from the channel. You have to ask them about the budget and the type of VFX you want to do. You can’t do it cheaply because the cost is the cost.
What next can we see coming from your end?
You will see a couple of movies and web series and of course serials. We usually do 3-4 things max at a time. Sanjay attends all the scripts and readings and contributes to the script. We enjoy doing our work. We put in a lot of hard work and since we do comedy it's like one episode of comedy equals five episodes of a soap. I used to write soaps and have written award-winning soaps but comedy is a different ball game altogether. You will see a lot of things coming out. My son is back from the US, having done a lot of studies in filmmaking and having worked with FOX, and now working with a big production house. He has his own team and we will be doing a whole lot of work now.