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When Vipul was paid Rs.35 per show...

Vipul Shah is a successful filmmaker today with 3 big films to his credit. But the journey till here wasn't as easy. The director talks about his start with drama, stint with television and finally his foray into films.

The theatre life
Vipul Shah joined theatre at the age of 19 and directed his first play Aandhado Pato (Blindman's buff) when he was 21.

"I did theatre at Prithvi where we never got paid much. If the day turned out good, we use to get paid Rs.35 per show. That's how I started. For almost around 3 years I did theatre. I would say that was my training ground and my learning experience"

Vipul Shah and his writer friend Aatish Kapadia started working together with the play Aandhado Pato. Apparently the two had been familiar to each other since childhood but for some odd reason hated each other. Later the ice broke when they joined Gujarati theatre. And this bond of friendship still continues with Aatish writing for Vipul's films.

Soaps and more...
"I did some Gujarati serials for Ahmedabad Doordarshan. They were made in Rs. 18,000 per episode. That used to be the budget of the entire episode. So right from the writing to direction to production to editing, everything had to be wrapped up in a span of one and a half day and then we used to courier the tape to Ahmedabad Doordarshan ourselves. There was no infrastructure so we couldn't hire anybody".

After dabbling in Gujrati theatre and television, Sony TV asked Vipul and his partner to come up with a tele-serial. One afternoon when Aatish and Vipul were driving down the familiar lanes of East Vile Parle they saw old bungalows being turned into multi-storied buildings. That was the trigger. And they decided to do a serial on a crumbling joint family.

"I did 'Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka' which actually became the first serial in Indian television history to complete 1000 episodes. Also it changed the way television was done in India. We never had daily soaps on prime time back then and when I went to Sony saying lets experiment with this particular show, they were also reluctant about it. I however said let's try since its not going to cost you much. If it works, great; if it doesn't, we will pull it out. And I am very happy that Sony accepted the proposal and they put it on air and it went on to make history".

With a brilliant start Vipul went on to make a number of path breaking serials which are still remembered for their unique storyline.

"Simultaneously with 'Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka' I did another show called 'Alpaviram' for Sony which according to the channel and also a lot of people is one of the best shows made in the Indian Television. So there was a sense of great satisfaction. Then I did another show for Zee TV called 'Babul Ki Duwayien Leti Jaa' and now I am doing a show for Sony called 'Thodi Khushi Thode Ghum' which comes on TV from Monday to Thursday. I have received some fantastic response for that show. It's already at No.1 position on Sony. So that is going quite well".

From theatre to films.....
The director who ventured into making films in 2000 started off with a film titled Aankhen. The film was a remake of his play Aandhado Pato. His next film Waqt was again based on a play called Wahla Phari Malisu (Goodbye dear, we'll meet again). And now the director is all set to release his next film called Namastey London starring Akshay Kumar who plays a Punjabi all set to woo his beautiful NRI wife Jazz in London played by Katrina Kaif.

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