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By: Upala KBR, Mid-Day
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Sandiip Sikcand stepped in as creative director at Sony 10 weeks ago and he's already being touted as the channel's 'lucky mascot'. With three big shows ('Kaajjal', 'Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa' and 'Bigg Boss') already on air, the channel's in the midst of launching two new serials and two more reality shows in the coming months.
So the battle lines are drawn. Parvati bhabhi has gone in for an image make-over, while Salil Ankola's replacement will step into Bigg Boss's home. The Ekta Kapoor-Sandiip Sikcand war is just hotting up. So who will garner the maximum eyeballs is now the BIG question.
As ex- creative head of Kahani, do you think Sakshi's makeover will help viewership?
I am sure it will. That is why it's being done. Anything new in a fiction show gets attention, but it also depends on the track and way the story is played out.
Did you quit Balaji because of Sakshi?
No comment. Sakshi Tanwar doesn't exist for me, so why are we talking about her?
When Ekta asked you to choose between Kahaani and your play Black, fed up of Sakshi's manipulations, you chose the play?
My reasons for quitting Balaji are very personal and it still hurts to talk about it. In the four years I was with 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii', I never spoke to Sakshi. She has her own take and would like to direct and produce the show on her own. Sakshi is one of the biggest manipulators I know, and I don't want to give any importance to her. I have fabulous memories of Kahaani, Balaji, Ekta, Shobha aunty and my colleagues there. I will always be fond of them. But there will also be certain negative elements like Sakshi and other people I wouldn't like to be associated with.
Is there an outright war between Ekta and you?
There is no war or Balaji bashing, neither am I proving a point. I'm just doing my job. I am proud to have been a part of Balaji and I hope it was proud to have me. Today, I want Sony to be proud of me as their creative director, so what's wrong with that? Big Boss is a good show. It's sheer coincidence that 'Kahaani' is in the same time slot. It's a good product and Sony is going all out to milk it. I don't think that's a bad idea.
It's being said that everything on BB is staged.
That's a complete lie! We have based it on an international format and can't mess or tamper with that. If I had my own script I would use background music and jhatkas too. It's totally real.
Bigg Boss is a three-month show. how will you keep the interest up?
The interest will be in the kind of activities or tasks the celebrities are made to do. In the future, we will have some amazing games in keeping with each character's features. We will spice it up more and add masala, masti and fun. There will be times when the celebs will be frustrated and will not give enough fodder, but this is about watching celebs in their true form - from cooking to brushing their teeth.
Was Salil Ankola's departure a big blow?
We were neither shattered nor demoralised. If Salil was in an agreement with another production house, he shouldn't have joined 'Bigg Boss'. Also, if we had been told about it, we wouldn't have taken him in the first place. But these things happen and life goes on.
You are being called Sony's lucky mascot...
I don't know whether I am lucky or not, but all these shows have great potential and it's been great working on them. 'Bigg Boss' is my first experience with reality TV. The hype it has created is tremendous. Besides there are also two more exciting reality shows.
Are you poaching Balaji's actors?
Sony's doors are open and if the role and character suits an actor, why not? I have heard of copyrights on stories and songs, but not on actors! I am here to do my job, and it doesn't include poaching. Smriti is a producer and she came to me with a concept. There is nothing wrong with that. Aamna (Shariff) was to host 'Bigg Boss' or join as a participant. She came to meet me, I asked her what plans were and narrated the concepts.
Has Gurpreet from KTH also approached you?
All I will say is that a male lead from a current Balaji show came to meet me with his wife saying they wanted to create problems for Balaji. I asked them to get out. I'm not here for someone else's vendetta.
If Balaji came to you with a serial...
If any producer comes with a good show and concept, we will hear it out.
Has Iqbal Khan approached you?
No. I've heard he doesn't like me (laughs).