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Sunday, December 08, 2019

Kahaan Hum Kahaan Tum producer Sandiip Sikcand: Will never show senseless, unrealistic drama in my shows

In the third edition of ‘Meet the showrunners’, sat down for a conversation with Sandiip Sikcand to know more about the success of Kahaan Hum Kahaan Tum, not falling for the TRP trap and working for other productions.

Written by Sana Farzeen | Mumbai | Published: November 12, 2019 5:18:24 pm
Sandiip Sikcand Sandiip Sikcand’s show Kahaan Hum Kahaan Tum airs on Star Plus.

Launched earlier this year, Kahaan Hum Kahaan Tum has managed to impress the audience with its relatable content and impressive performances. Starring Dipika Kakar Ibrahim and Karan V Grover in the lead roles of Sonakshi and Rohit, the daily presents the love story between a small screen star and a cardiac surgeon. The show recently clocked 100 episodes, and the current wedding track has been keeping viewers hooked.

The show is produced by Sandiip Sikcand, who has worked as a creative director for many years. Having started his career at the age of 17 in a garments business, Sikcand harboured a dream of becoming an actor, and that got him to accept the job of an associate creative head at Balaji Telefilms.

After being creatively involved with shows like Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii, Kasamh Se, Amrit Manthan, Bandini and Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, Sikcand started his journey as a producer with Dhhai Kilo Prem.

In the third edition of ‘Meet the showrunners’, sat down for a conversation with Sikcand to know more about the success of Kahaan Hum Kahaan Tum, not falling for the TRP trap and working for other productions.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

Having worked in the industry for long, how difficult does it get to not fall into the TRP trap?

The one thing I was always very sure is that we will never have any senseless or unrealistic drama on our show. I never fell into a trap because I feel one should just add drama inherently to the script. Like our recent track has Sonakshi’s stalker Mahesh being the lightman on her set. Actors don’t always know that fear could be looming close to them. So while we knew the audience would enjoy this track, rather than getting someone back from dead, we did something in the genre of the show. Also, I don’t think it is difficult. You just need to think a little harder. I have never been averse to hard work as I feel your mind develops more if you keep it busy.

A recent sequence in the show had Sonakshi and her mother talk about sex education. This is not something that we see on primetime. How did you think of adding that in the script?

With the kind of shows that we have, especially on the web, these things are coming out in the open. And it is actually not the time to sweep it under the carpet. We wanted to present a contemporary mother-daughter relationship. Also, as Sonakshi shared that while everyone gets to know about it through the internet or friend, a parent will express it in a different yet the right way. Somewhere I feel that television can always act as a dual purpose platform – entertainment and to highlight poignant issues.

We keep talking about showcasing different kind of content, but it doesn’t always manage to rake in numbers. Does it discourage you?

I have realised that audiences want drama which makes sense. So till the time you provide that, it will always work. And I don’t think it is discouraging. We have been doing fairly well, even when we are pitted against KBC 11 and Kumkum Bhagya in the same time slot. But yes, we are aiming to get better numbers in the coming days.

A factor that seems to have worked for Kahaan Hum Kahaan Tum is its ensemble cast. Was it challenging to get the right actors for the same?

I went with my guts and thankfully, the channel supported me. Coming to the leads, I met Karan when he came on Juzzbaat, a show I was doing. I have always considered him as a funny man. But when Rajeev Khandelwal was interviewing him, I saw Karan in a different light. He spoke really well and there was a serious element in him. Also, he is such a warm person and that comes across on screen. As for Dipika, she was my first choice but then she went for Bigg Boss. I did speak to Divyanka Tripathi about it and she was quite excited about it. However, Yeh Hai Mohabbatein was still airing on the same channel, and we couldn’t repeat her. When Dipika came back, she was still looking for a good show, and it all just worked out.

As for the others, Paras Zutsi (Ajit) is a friend and he is exactly like his on-screen character. Waseem Mushtaq (YK) is a dear friend and I have known him for long. Anahita Jahanbaksh (Suman) came through my team and she is doing such a fabulous job. Ashish Nayyar (Naren) and I had done a show K-street Pali Hill ages back. He is one of those people who looks good and dignified even after aging. I think all the actors were gracious enough to accept the show. The casting was the least of the worries for me.

Is having a good cast the secret to a show’s success?

I think it is all about having the right mixture of elements – be it the script, casting etc. And most importantly, the amount of hard work and sweat you are willing to give in.

You have worked for years in the industry. Did that help you mould yourself as a producer?

I am a Balaji Telefilms baby completely. I keep telling everyone that I have an edge over others as I have been trained under the best institution. I have learnt from Ekta Kapoor and Shobha aunty. Working with them has been the greatest learning experience and I gained all my knowledge from them.

How fruitful has this new journey been for you?

Well, I won’t say it is fruitful because I have just started. Maybe after 10-15 years, I would be able to answer that. However, it has been very encouraging. After television, I also want to make web series, web movies and films. I have a long way ahead. But I am sure that the content I make will always be slightly different from the run of the mill.

Also Read: Meet the showrunners | Siddharth P Malhotra | Zama Habib

And have you learnt to talk money?

(Laughs) No, not yet. Thankfully I have SOL behind me. I have known Fazilla from college and Kamna for a very long time. They have been handling the finances and it has been a fantastic partnership.

Apart from making your own shows, you also work for other productions. How do you prioritise?

It might sound very filmy, but a mother can never distinguish between her own babies. Be it my production or others, a show is a show and has to be treated well. When I am hired as a creative director, I have to live up to the name and credit. And I also have to justify myself as a producer when I am making my serial. I have never differentiated and prioritised like that. Even if a show is about to shut, we give our best till the last episode. It can get crazy sometimes, but I have been doing it for the past 16 years and hopefully will do it for the next 50 years.

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