Friday, January 6, 2012

What the F*$#?: EK THA BOND!



When you stretch your fingers into the innermost nooks and crannies of a cupboard drawer that hasn’t been explored for ages, you can be assured of finding something long forgotten and altogether unexpected. Rummaging in the recesses of one’s memories yields equally surprising results.

As I found out yesterday when a friend and colleague was asking me about the films and shows I’d worked on. I was rattling off names almost mechanically, not knowing that under the surface, the sands were shifting, allowing certain old experiences that were lying interred, eclipsed for years to emerge from their tombs and at long last look me in the eye.

These were shows that I had worked on, invested my heart and soul and endless hours in but for a variety of reasons (most of them inexplicable and after all these years still pretty frustrating) never saw the light of the television screen. And since it looks pretty likely now that they never will I think it’s only fair that I give them their moment in the sun.

(Any nefarious soul out there with thievery on his mind – don’t bother. All the ideas are registered, copyrighted with me and the respective producers.  J So sucks to you.)


SHERLOCK BOND – This was one of the first shows I’d worked on for Manjul Sinha and truly one of the looniest, funniest concepts ever. It was in the Pink Panther space, but with much more of the Naked Gun, Top Secret spoofy style rather than the Peter Sellers slapstick. At the heart of it was the eponymous detective, a rustic individual from the heartland who fancied himself as the amalgamation of the finest character traits of the legendary cocaine sniffing sleuth and the martini sipping spy and hence had rechristened himself as a combination of their appellations. Ergo the title…

His enemies included his own boss, his femme fatale rival from another agency, an arch fiend who in the best traditions of Ajit went by the sobriquet CROCODILE, the latter’s devastating duo of minions (KACHUA and KEKDA) out to annihilate Bond but usually succeeding only in doing damage to self. Needless to say everything they tried from bombs in toilets to poisoned kababs had the unfortunately habit of helping Bond come up trumps once again.

For though our hero had neither the smarts nor the sophistication, he had the Sheer Luck of the devil. Aur jab kismat meherbaan thoda gadha bhi pehelwaan – enough living examples in our film and TV industry.


KACHCHE DHAAGE One of the most beautiful, sensitive shows never produced on Indian Television. Created by Shristhi Arya (Rose Audiovisuals), she was the one who convinced me that I could be good at writing emotional stories as well. And even if I say so myself, the couple of episodes that I wrote of this show, were doozies.

The story was simple, the relationships complex. 3 sisters, one mother trying to find meaning and joy in the smallest things in life. But looming above them is the shadow of the father who deserted them. One sister wants to destroy him, one wants him back in her life. The mother is still trying to recover from the trauma that put an end to her professional life and in a way her personal too…

And there’s an old friend and admirer of the mother, there are new romances for the daughter but not very conventional ones for in her desire for revenge the eldest sister ends up committing the same sin she has held a grudge against her father for – breaking up a happy family.

Even now when I think about the sweetness, sensitivity and subtlety with which we had all approached and worked on KD it hurts, especially when one sees the shrill, screechy melodramatic mockery that so many on air shows make of these issues and emotions. Ah well, C’est la vie.
 

PAANCH -  Strangely this was a show I was developing at exactly the same time as Kachche Dhaage but the two could not have been more startling contrasts. Conceived by Nikhil Alva this was a show about an Indian counter espionage, counter terrorism agency (Mind you, at that time 24 had not yet happened even in the US). The show was dark, the characters were grey tending to black, the stories were unbelievably edgy and yes all this with channel blessings (unfortunately there was a regime change).

In fact I still remember the pilot episode I had written – one of my best scripts about a terrorist attack on Mumbai city wherein 6 bombs would go off in suburban trains within 5 minute intervals. The most disturbing fact – something that sends chills down my spine even as I type this was that this was written several years before the Mumbai train blasts happened!!!


NEEL AND NIKKI Yes, we did steal the name from the YRF flick but that was way before the film came out and we realized how bad it was. 

This was my take on Calvin and Susie – the love hate relationship between two 10 year old kids – a boy and a girl. Naturally they are in the boys are stupid, girls are silly phase but they’re neighbours, they are in the same class and fate has a way of landing them up in situations where they end up stuck together.

As in the case of the pilot we shot (this was a collaboration between Soni Razdan, Cogito TV (Harini, Shishir, Shirish) and yours truly) wherein Neel and Nikki get locked in Neel’s garage on the day of Neel’s birthday party. How come? Well Neel doesn’t want girls at his party but Neel’s mother insists on Nikki being there and since Neel has been showing off about his party and how girls won’t be there, Nikki of course is determined to make sure she will land up and so to stop her, Neel wants to lock her in the garage but…

It was cute, it was mad, it was so all our childhoods…

What happened? Well the pilot was market tested and came up as being too urban. Which I guess it was but surely the powers that be knew that at the one line concept level. But then Jiski bat, usi ki batting

JUMP – A man who’s spent his entire life being the HERO seeks to pull off one last Hurrah. A talented singer is tormented by the shadow of her Indian Idol sister. A brilliant but embittered boy just wants to free his family from the clutches of his abusive father. A girl who can’t stand being girly cause that would make her weak. A kid from a hosiery family who pretends to be a prince. An autistic pianist. And a girl who doesn’t dare dream…

All their paths cross when two rival colleges clash at the country’s most prestigious musical challenge. Lives will change, lives will end…

This could have been a game changing show, a crack team including producers Seema and Sudhir and a bunch of young, awesomely talented writers (Agrim, Anujeet, Ria take a bow) worked on this for a year – the final shape of the show and the characters was something I have never been more proud of and then suddenly, inexplicably the plug was pulled…

We still don’t know why. But in my heart I do believe this story will happen – perhaps as a show, perhaps as a film – one way or the other I will make it…

There are more such stories, concepts that have remained on paper or on hard drives, tales itching to be told but without takers. Maybe one day…

‘Nuff said.

Anand Sivakumaran
Rangmunch.TV

6 comments:

  1. Wait...lemme go n wish on a wish bone for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow :-)

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  2. Okay first of all a very happy new year and sorry for being such a procrastinator for the last three weeks. I don't miss the reads but commenting... well that means exercising for the fingers, which means work!! (Okay I know. Really pathetic excuse, I better move on :-))

    its amazing how lately almost all of your articles get me really nostalgic. Some shows from your list reminded me of shows like kissa shanti ka, chunauti, kashish (don't bother wondering where the link may be, you won't find it :)). I think not just the last one but more out of your above list should still be made and have so much scope. There are plenty of takers (Viewers) I assure you, just find the makers :)

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  3. Don't doubt that there are taker Dhwani.
    But makers... no chance
    not till DTH and niche channels take off in a big way
    or TV on net becomes viable
    As long as TV is advertiser driven and working towards the mass audience content will just get more and more regressive
    Case in point - Sowbhagyawati where every episode a man finds new ways to torture a woman is doing so well

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  4. Gosh so very rightly said about that horrid show!! I fail to understand how that one is picking up so well. But you made your point. I just can't wait to see some high quality content on Indian television and your list sounded like *doobte ko tinka*

    Well as always, my best wishes to you for the makers hunt!!

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