May 25, 2020
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Ramesh Sippy

The Buniyaad man switches channels, but hopes Gaatha too breaks new ground

Ramesh Sippy
Will Gaatha be more of the same from the man behind Buniyaad?
The Gaatha canvas is much larger. Buniyaad was about one small family grappling with Partition, Gaatha deals with two big families, one Hindu, the other Muslim, and spans 55 years of history.

Will it match the impact of Buniyaad?
Buniyaad was telecast when there was only a single channel. In a multi-channel scenario, Gaatha will have to contend with stiff competition.

You mean it'll be tougher to get it going?
If I can get the audience to sit down and watch my serial, that'll be my achievement.

Does it bother you that your work will be at the mercy of a remote control handset?
It definitely does. I know it's much more difficult today to hold the viewer's attention. So, I'll make each episode interesting and self-contained, not just a link in the story.

How long will Gaatha run?
The initial arrangement is 52 weeks. If the audience response is encouraging, the number of episodes will be doubled.

Are the characters drawn from real life?
They are a blend of fact and fiction. Fact—history—is the backdrop and fiction is the serial's narrative. But the characters etched by writer Manohar Shyam Joshi are life-like.

Shouldn't a serial like Gaatha be showing on DD's national network?
DD's reach is undeniable. But my association with Mandi House has been a chequered one. So I opted for the more professional Star TV.

Despite the knowledge that the viewership won't be as large?
I'm a creative person, not a liaison man. Dealing with DD generally means shuttling between Mumbai and Delhi to keep powers-that-be in good humour. I can't do that.

Do you expect DD to improve in the near future?
Once the Prasar Bharati Act comes into effect and Mandi House acquires a degree of autonomy, it might be easier to deal with it.

Have you bid goodbye to the big screen?
Certainly not. But I'll never make a film for the sake of making one.

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