Two's Company : Siddharth Basu and Anita Kaul Basu
They are the ones who run and almost rule the world of television. Master artists and visualisers, they create dramatic sequences on the small screen that touch emotional chords in the hearts of millions. And the reason for their success is because they share not just professional but personal ties as well.
Two’s Company introduces the lovable and respected duos in the world of television who work together to weave magic.
Let’s take a peek into the lives of these dashing entrepreneurs and understand what makes them and their shows tick. This week we feature Anita Kaul and Siddharth Basu of Big Synergy.
Siddharth Basu, Founder of Big Synergy was born in Kolkata and grew up in Bombay, Delhi, and Madras. After completing Masters in English Literature from Delhi University he started his career as a documentary filmmaker. A theatre enthusiast Siddharth loves to travel and watch movies.
Anita Kaul Basu, Co-founder and Director of Big Synergy, is a Mass Communication graduate from Indian Institute of Mass Communication. She started her career as a journalist and later went on to launch Big Synergy. Anita loves reading and likes to spend time with friends and family.
From the house of Big Synergy:
- Mastermind India
- Kaun Banega Crorepati
- Bluff Master
- India’s Child Genius
- University Challenge
- Mum Tum Aur Hum
- Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa
- Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tej Hain
- Dus Ka Dum
- Bollywood Ka Boss
- Jiya Jale
- Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain
- Aap Ki Kachehri
- India’s Got Talent
- Sports Ka Superstar
- Big Money
- Tech Grandmasters
- India’s Most Desirables
You have been married for 28 years now. Can you say that you know each other entirely?
Siddharth: Yes I think so. We got married in the year 1983 but we knew each other eight years before that. So in an association of thirty-six years one expects to know each other. I still remember that it was during a play called ‘The Serpent’ when we met for the first time. Mira Nair recommended Anita for a role and that is when we saw each other for the first time.
Anita: Yes, it’s been a long time. So I will say we know each other pretty well. Things do change as time passes by, but overall we have not changed as individuals much.
In an age where divorces are rampant, what is it that binds you together?
Anita: Commitment towards each other, certain shared goals and the fact that we work together makes things easier for us. And of course, there is love which has grown over the years. As a couple we don’t believe in the idea of giving up marriage or getting separated. We have two kids and we are very much family oriented. So I believe these are some of the beliefs and ideas that have managed to keep us together.
Siddharth: I think apart from love and attraction it is also about affection and companionship. A relationship is a dynamic thing which goes through many stages. But the idea of reconsidering the attachment and the relationship has never crossed my mind. You have a child, a father, a mother or a sister who is constant in your life and you cannot change them. Similar is the equation with your wife. Marriage for me is constant.
What is the equation that you both share?
Anita: When you talk about equation I must say that we are two very different individuals. I am much more outgoing, flamboyant and an extrovert. Bur somehow we have learned to a strike a balance. When there is a relationship, there will be conflicts and difference of opinions. But at the end it is all about commitment and the act of loving your life partner unconditionally. One has to accept and understand the differences in each other and balance the situation. It takes time but eventually everything falls into place.
Siddharth: As I already said a relationship is dynamic. The equation is different at different stages of life. When two individuals are different obviously there would be some degree of disagreements but all said and done there is a strong synergy between us both at the personal and professional level.
How do you handle difference of opinions?
Siddharth: Well, professionally we have our roles bifurcated. Anita is more of a people’s person so she is a team builder and an organiser. She also handles the financial, admin and HR aspects of the company. I take care of the creative and representation part of the company. Yes, there are times when we don’t come to a conclusion and we have sharp differences, but we know that the buck has to stop somewhere. So at the end of the day we do reach a consensus for the greater interest of the company. Personally, I will say I always comply (laughs). I think it is bit of a fire and ice situation. So it is kind of complementary.
Anita: No, he doesn’t always comply (laughs). But on a serious note we do have our share of differences over work or personal matters. But we do not bang phones. We are not that violent as individuals. Over the years the tolerance and acceptance level has increased. We keep saying to each other that we should not let things go out of hand. Earlier I was more resistive to things, but after so many years I have learnt to let go.
Siddharth: I must add that she has always been gregarious but I was more quite and docile by nature. She drew me out of it and helped be become more vocal. Again she is more impulsive in decision making whereas I think several times before coming to a decision.
Does the level of understanding increase with you working together?
Siddharth: We haven’t been working together from the beginning. She started her career as a journalist and I as a documentary film-maker. Synergy was formed in 1988 but she joined lot later. She decided to take time off from professional commitments to take care of children. She was and still is a very committed mother. Only when the children were in their teens that she decided to join Synergy. It does help when you share common professional and personal goals.
Anita: It is a decision that I took to stay with my children Aditya and Medha. I didn’t want them to feel lonely. It is very important for one of the parents to stay with the kids in the formative years. The presence is necessary in the growing up years to imbibe right values. It was not easy for me to suddenly stay at home all the time after getting used to a certain kind of professional lifestyle. There was lot of irritation and frustration initially. But that was a choice I made and I am glad about it. But later I did join Synergy and it is always good to have Siddharth around.
Tell us something about Aditya and Medha. Do you want them to take over your business?
Siddharth: Not at all. They are very different individuals with their own set of dreams and aspirations. Aditya is a film-maker and Medha is currently working in London. Aditya has worked with me on different shows but his real interest lies in documentary film-making. He is working hard and finding his way around that domain. And Medha is also working in a prestigious firm in London. Both my kids lead quite an independent life. As parents we have been pretty firm and our children have never been demanding. Aditya still travels in local trains. They are like any other kid who is trying to chase his or her dream. They have their feet in the ground. This has got to do a lot with the way they were brought up by Roza (Anita) who has always been compassionate, lovable but firm at the same time. She has played a major role in imbibing the right values. They are quite accomplished in their own capacities and I don’t have great expectations or ambitions from them. I just want them to lead a meaningful life and be happy and healthy.
Anita: I have always been very strict about their behaviour and conduct. I was never over indulgent or over complacent. I didn’t allow them to get carried away with so much of media attention, money or power. Our kids saw their father on television all the time and they got special attention but despite all that they never got swayed. People sometime wonder how Aditya and Medha have no airs at all. They are very quiet kids and the best thing is that the entire glamour business hasn’t affected them the wrong way.
What are the challenges you face today?
Siddharth: Professionally, we were never in a rat race. We just hope to do things which have certain value and credibility. We work towards achieving it. After so many years people do have certain kind of expectations from us and it is a challenge to live up to them. The challenge is to produce more quality shows and diversify as a company. So in terms of creating niche products, diversification, strategic alliances with international brands, and finding right people for the expansion of the organization, we have lot of challenges ahead. I have had a very strong association with people who have been with me throughout and I am thankful to them. Personally, I want to cut down on the amount of work. I want to connect with friends which sadly has not been happening. There are so many other things that I want to do and it’s high time I take time off to actually do it.
Anita: I think when a company grows challenges are meant to crop up. There are times when things don’t work according to plans. At Synergy, we are very conscious of quality. It gets tough when people don’t understand the motto of our company. It is always a challenge to find good people to work with us. But we are hopeful of better days and we will find right kind of people who will handle the affairs in the future. Personally, as Siddharth said we need more time for ourselves. I want to travel, read, do theatre and everything that we want to do but can’t due to time stringency.
Siddharth: Of course. Corruption is an issue, Naxalism is an issue, terrorism is an issue, which affects us all in many ways. Personally, I think right now it is all about taking good care of health and staying happy.
Anita: Professionally, I would like to comment that there would be no space for insecurities as the industry will have enough room for every kind of content. Furthermore, we have always started a trend; we have always been on top, we always come up with good content because that’s the only way we know how to do it. So there is no question of insecurity. Personally, I am not insecure at all as I have great kids, our marriage is solid. But I would definitely like to have more space for ourselves.
From Synergy to Big Synergy. What has the journey been like?
Siddharth: The company has grown several folds since its formation in 1988. It has doubled and doubled again. It terms of revenue, operations and projects the growth has been steady and high. I must mention that our tie-up with Reliance has been a comforting and fruitful one. The association has allowed us not to have anxieties over where the next bill will be paid from. We are glad that apart from finances they have allowed us to function independently in terms of operations. The journey has been good and the graph has always gone high.
What do you attribute the success of KBC to?
Siddharth: It is the format of the show. It has always been about human interest stories told through a knowledge game. The show started with Star Plus but after the contract got relinquished, Sony picked it up. This year on KBC 5 we have a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds participating on the show. If you notice Mr Bachchan is warmer in the show and connects more wonderfully with the participants. The questions have become more contemporary rather than over the top. So we do innovate with every season but the basic fundamentals have always been intact. I think it has never been about money but the connection which has made the show so successful among the masses every single time.
Anita: I agree with Siddharth. It has never been about money because after KBC so many shows tried to play the money card but failed. It is about emotions and the connection. People actually live that moment of being on the hot seat. It’s a life changing experience. We have seen and heard some wonderful stories on the show. Of course, the presence of someone like Shahrukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan does help a lot, but at the end of the day it is all about the format and content of the show which matters.
You are in television business. Do you watch TV?
Siddharth: Rarely, but whenever I get time I watch news and movies. No saas-bahu serials for me.
Anita: After going back home from work I do catch up on some news and of course movies if I get time. Nothing beyond that really.
Allow us to get to know you better. Tell us one thing that you like about him/her the most...
Anita: Just one thing, I can say so many! (laughs). Siddharth is extremely honest as a person and very loving. These are his special qualities.
Siddharth: She is a beautiful person and my life partner. That’s what I like about her.
One thing that annoys you about him/her...
Anita: There are two things. He is very opinionated and won’t listen to someone else’s suggestions at times. Secondly I hate his habit of constantly being on the phone.
Siddharth: She has a short fuse. She gets angry instantaneously, but that is something I have come to live with after so many years (laughs).
What are your plans for the future?
Siddharth: Lot of quality shows in the future. We want to do an exceptional music show, a children oriented show, and we also want to enter the genre of fiction. But we will do only realistic fiction which will appeal to the masses. It will be kind of a combination of reality and fiction. We are working towards achieving it.
Anita: On personal front we want to travel a lot. (smiles)