Shilpa has to honour the contract, respect the channel and do her work sincerely: Producer Benaifer Kohli

Producer Benaifer Kohli and Shilpa Shinde

&TV’s extremely popular show, Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai produced by Edit II has been fishing in troubled waters since the time Shilpa Shinde threatened to quit the show.

Shilpa, who enacts the very popular role of Angoori in the above laugh-riot, is at the centre of the storm. With an edgy professional past record (of tantrums, demands and walk-outs), Shilpa has painted the town red with her raucous rancorous comments against the channel and the makers of the show. She has levelled some serious allegations against the concerned authorities, which has set the cat amongst the pigeons. A talented actress she is, but as the old man says, any publicity is good publicity. Sources inform that the ruckus might be a means (read: window) for Shilpa to join the Kapil bandwagon on Sony. Or is it a well crafted marketing gimmick which will eventually fizzle with everyone shaking hands and singing carols at the end?

That only time would tell.

But before that, we have a nice read up for all our lovely readers. Shilpa has bared it all (no pun intended), and now it’s time for Producer Benaifer Kohli to share her side of the story, which we feel all should heed carefully. So ladies & gentlemen, in a freewheeling conversation with Tellychakkar.com’s Srividya Rajesh, Benaifer talks about the problems in hand, and her take on Shilpa’a serious allegations. Must read for all Bhabhiji lovers.

Guess... it is time for you to speak up...in real terms...    

Well, I have never talked openly with the media, even when I have won an award. Shilpa has been going on & on& on from her side. So I have finally decided to come out in open. I will talk about what is black and white. I have been very unhappy; my job is to create, and not to fight. I really do not want to go to court and settle things. 

Clear the air about the problems?                 

It has been going on for some time now, where she has been asking for money for various things. She’s been talking of her right to get an increase after a year. In her case it is not true. That’s because in the last one year, she’s asked for a hike twice and has even got it. Also, she’s got her price from the start, and it is clearly mentioned in the contract that she will get a hike after the first two years. There’s also a clause mentioned that after a certain number of years, she cannot be asking for a hike. 

Secondly, she says she is being harassed by the channel person. It’s extremely untrue, as she has signed an exclusivity contract one year back. It is the policy of the channel that the actor is available to them on an exclusive basis. So what is she saying now? It’s not only about Shilpa, but all our leads have signed for it a year back. She’s charging a huge sum already for her exclusive contract. I have every record with me, and I can prove it all. 

Thirdly, she talks of no designer being present on the set, and she being forced to wear her own clothes. It can be quite possible that she has worn her clothes twice or thrice, but it is again baseless that we do not have a designer on the set. We have the industry’s topmost designer Nisha Bedi Rai on our set from day one. Her assistant comes everyday to supervise things. We also have Mansi Manoj, one of the best jewellery designers on our set. Besides all this, she has taken money from me for buying jewellery for which I have receipts signed by her. However, she will send me hand-written bills and not bills with the shop logo and print on it. One day, she got the room of few co-actors painted all by herself, and a month later, she produced a bill of it to me. I did not want the matter to escalate, so silently paid the amount and let the work happen. Another instance I can think of, is when she sent a bill for alteration charges amounting to Rs 1,75,000. Who will tolerate all this, tell me? 

Did she have a talk with the channel on the hike matter? 

See, she needs to learn to respect her contract and move ahead like a family. The channel has given us a chance to make this big show. Yes, she went and had a meeting with the channel. They agreed to so many things, but they are not bound to agree to everything. Now she has sent a medical certificate, stating the reason of migraine. Well when you are not well, how can you sit and negotiate deals with Kapil for another show. She is not fit to work for one show, and how will she work at two places? 

Tell us about her late comings?    

Certainly, it is not acceptable if she comes late everyday by two or three hours. I have all the smses and messages wherein she has apologized to me for coming late. See, I am not talking anything which is not black and white. I really don’t understand her demands and her talks of being harassed. I have a lot of her messages where she’s been apologetic for coming late. 

So what have you to tell her now?     

This is the number one show on the channel.  The channel has pumped in crores of rupees, given jobs to thousands of people. The industry is on a high, and our show is doing really well. Above all, I really love her in her role. I really want her to come back. But I fail to think to what extent she will go and talk ill of people. 

Forget everyone, just honour your contract. The channel has been gracious enough to give us this show. She needs to think why will the channel let her go and take part in a rival channel, that too when she has been exclusively available to them. 

Tell us about the legal action taken by you?

Yes, I am tired of the harassment charges. What is she upset about? Finally I have sent her a notice, for which she has to provide explanation. I have all the messages, emails ready with me. She’s demeaning everyone and this is not done. She’s even talked of me being a terror and taken digs at my marital life.  I mean how much she will get personal to get her hike. It is not my money; I have to take it from the channel. And she has already got her hike twice in the last year. 

She has gone on to blame other actors too...

Yes, she feels a preferential treatment is given to Saumya on the sets. She has now gone and talked bad about other actors. Let me tell you, every actor has a certain contract in place. If Saumya has wanted ABC in her contract, she has got it. If Shilpa has asked for a DEF, she has got it. Now you cannot come and tell me that I am being partial as I am not giving Shilpa A and  B, right? Saumya has always been happy and content with what she has been getting in her contract. 

Tell us more about other problems in hand?

Right from day one, she did not like the hair dresser provided to her. She told me she will get her own dresser, to which I agreed. However, her dresser did not turn up. She had problems with the jewellery designer. She had problems with her wig too. I told her to get the wig from whoever she wants, as she has to be comfortable wearing it. She then went and told the channel that the production house is not complying, and I had to then show them my text message sent to her. 

How does all this hurt your company’s reputation?

See, we have a good creative team in place. With all this, their minds are getting disturbed. My staff has been with me for nearly 15 years now. My technicians, camera man, director are there for years. I have no problems with her. If she comes back, I am sure my entire team, technicians and cast will welcome her and forget the past. We are all like-minded people. We believe in forgetting what is negative and look at the positive. I do not want anyone to abuse the channel. They have given us a chance to perform and if Bhabhiji had not happened to me, I would not have been in the limelight. 

Tell us about the ambience that you maintain on your sets?  

My set is like a picnic place. You can talk to my actors; you will get to know that we shoot only six to seven scenes a day. There is no work load whatsoever. So there is no room for an actor working even when he /she is ill. I have smses and messages wherein she has said she’s not well, and I have granted her leave on the day. Even on times when I have requested her to come, she has never turned up. The funny part was that she actually sent me a contract wherein nearly five pages of content was altered, and she asked me to sign it and give it back. The contract had clauses of ‘main kabhi bhi aawoongi, kabhi bhi jaawoongi’. Who can honour all that, tell me? There is a certain code of decorum on the set, and everyone has to value it. 

Adding more to her harassment charges, I will want to speak about an incident. She once sent messages like ‘Mrs. Kohli without getting into any argument, we have to get into a deal.’ Do you think if she is being harassed, she can use such a tone?

She talked about you trying to meet her for settlement at JW Marriot?      

Well, yes, she has clearly stated that she does not want to deal with me. Fine enough!! She wanted to meet my husband at her house. The channel refused to do so. So we told her to come to JW Marriot, a public open place, and the idea was of Mr. Kohli talking to her in the presence of two women. See, if my baby is drowning, and my ego is also drowning, I would certainly want to save my baby. I guess this will be the stand of everyone in my situation. For me, my show is bigger than anything. And if she wants to settle things with my husband, so be it. I am fine with the fact that she does not like me. My only request to her is to honour her contract, respect the channel, come on sets on time, do her work sincerely, and take her money on time. 

She’s called you a terror?      

Well, yes, there are reasons for it. I am very particular about timings and cannot tolerate if anyone is late. We have actors who leave home their kids and cannot go beyond a point shooting. Our set is full of fun and I take pride in saying that my set is the happiest set in the industry. We do all kind of adjustments to keep our actors and technicians happy. After all, everyone works hard and has a right to be at home on the important days. Every person has a life after this show, and what is wrong if I am being disciplined? If Shilpa does not turn up for hours, and makes actors wait for her, obviously there is a problem. Yes, if this means I am a terror, then I take pride in saying I am a terror. 

So what now?    

She has committed multiple breaches of contract. Now, she cannot take my niceness for my weakness. I have with me about 50 incidents wherein I can prove her wrong. In fact, your own press colleagues would have seen it happen, and can confirm many incidents. I do not want the mudslinging here, but truly lot of things are also on camera. 

She has had a track record of quitting her earlier shows. Do you think you made a wrong choice by casting her?

I am not a tech-savvy person. And I did not even know that she has either quit or has been removed from many of her shows, till the time someone told me recently. But for me, she has been a right cast. She has acted well, and I will want her to get back on the set and enjoy playing her role. If she fails to do so, then we will have to take action. But I believe she has to honour her contract. At the end of the day, it is important to do things the right way. 

How have you taken all this harassment?   

Nobody can harass me. I am a thorough professional, and know the rules of the industry fairly well. 

So how are you managing to sail through shooting without her?

People tend to forget that the show is not only about Shilpa. We have three ‘maharathis’ in Saumya Tandon, Rohitashv Gour and Aasif Sheikh. In fact, Aasif and Rohitashv are the super heroes of comedy. And every character of ours is iconic. I can run episodes with Happu Singh and Saxena. So we are managing it very well. 

Do you think an actor is bigger than the role? 

See, if a character is well-written, then it a sure success irrespective of who plays it. However, I do not believe in changing a person. See for example, Gopi bahu of Saathiya, even with the change in artist the show is a hit. So all that matters the most is the characterization. But yes, if we are left with no option, then we will have to think about replacement. 

So what do you think is the better way of getting to a solution?  

She has done enough damage. Our ratings would have gone up if this would have been avoided. She has created problems for a new channel. She has put our production house’s name at stake. Logically, she has to get back. Our legal system is quite strong, and she has to honour her contract. Why is it that she has problems with almost everyone? Why does she have an angst against everybody? Having said this, I believe things will be well soon.

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Submitted by SrividyaRajesh on Wed, 03/16/2016 - 16:41

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