He comes across as an ordinary man sans the aura that is associated with a successful director. Meet Rajan Waghdhare, who has not only played a crucial role in popularizing the comedy genre, but has also successfully directed one the longest running comedy serials on the small screen - Yes Boss, which recently completed 500 episodes.
In a candid chat, Rajan Waghdhare narrates his journey in the TV industry as a director, his future plans and his style of directing.
How did you decide to join the television industry?
The credit for this goes to my father who was a documentary filmmaker. Since my dad would always be busy shooting and editing I had an early brush with the medium and it developed in me the passion to join the field.
And how was your initial journey?
It was way back in 1983 when I joined as an assistant editor with a production house for serials like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Chunauti and Mujrim Hazir. I learnt my basics about video editing during that period. After that, I continued as an editor for some time before making a shift to direction.
Could you tell us about your first serial as a director?
When I decided to shift from editing to direction it was Gautam Adhikari who provided me the first opportunity to direct. He was directing Commander then and had already completed around 250 episodes of the show. Since, Gautamji had to go on a visit somewhere; he called me to direct a few episodes till he returns. That is how things got started with me as a director. But, I won't call it as my real directorial debut since I was on the show to fill the gap.
When did you start doing independent direction?
My first independent project was Shrimaan Shrimati, produced by the Adhikari Brothers. It was a show that was an instant hit with the audiences. I was given a free hand to direct the way I wanted. The family based comedy show still has a high recall value.
You are seen as somebody who specializes in the comedy genre only. Have you thought about doing other kind of genres too?
I am not comfortable with the saas-bahu themes. I think, they present a sugar coated reality that's of little use. I recently shot some episodes for Sony's CID and it was great to be doing a show like that. But, the fact remains that I am more comfortable doing comedy serials as it comes naturally to me.
What all is required to make good comedy shows?
There are certain things that go into the making of a truly entertaining comedy. One of the main pillars being the freedom to innovate. I mean, comedy cannot be entirely scripted. It would never sound natural in that case. Sometimes, my actors suggest certain things that I feel would add to the comic flavour of the show and we go with it. So, one has to be open to such developments or last minute additions. The reaction time of the actors is equally important for a great comedy. I have been quite lucky in this way since I get to work with the best of the lot like Rakesh Bedi and Satish Shah. The success of my show Yes Boss is because of these factors only.
If we talk about inspiration, who would you consider has inspired you to make great comedy shows?
I have always been a follower of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's cinema. His genre of comedy was simple, subtle, classy and truly entertaining. I have learned a lot by observing his comic films. I received a huge compliment from him when he called me to say that my show Yes Boss is the only genuine comedy show on TV.
It's every director's dream to move on to the big screen. Have you ever considered such a move?
Every director dreams of directing for the bigger canvas. I have already made a film produced by Sahara One called Bevdadas, which is a spoof on Devdas. The film is complete and the release dates are being worked out. Moreover my TV assignments leave me with little time to concentrate on films at the moment.
So, what new shows are you coming up with apart from the ones already on air?
I am trying to make shows for a few other channels. Though SAB has always recognized my talent and I owe my success hugely to Adhikari brothers for giving me the initial opportunity and the creative freedom. But, creativity is a constant journey and one has to challenge his/her skills constantly to keep it alive. I am still discussing my new shows and would finalize the deal some time soon.