Adman-filmmaker Nitesh Tiwari may be popularly known as the director of Dangal and Chhichhore, but he has had a long association with Kaun Banega Crorepati, churning out campaigns for the quiz-based reality show year after year.
The first video of KBC 12 featuring Amitabh Bachchan announced the registration date for the season. It used the current lockdown situation to pass on the message with the tag line, “Har cheez ko break lag sakta hai…sapno ko nahi”. The entire video was planned and directed remotely by Tiwari.
In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, Nitesh Tiwari opens up about his first work-from-home shoot, his association with Kaun Banega Crorepati and the lockdown.
Excerpts from the conversation:
How was the experience of shooting the KBC 12 registration video from home?
I love doing new things. Since we were aware of the restrictions around the shooting experience, the writing team decided to keep it very simple. We were only relying on Mr Bachchan’s persona. Once the concept was finalised, I started the pre-production process. And wanting to let Big B understand my vision, I shot a scratch film with my daughter as my DOP. I shot in four-five locations in my house, as that could help in editing. I sent the film to him, and he got going, shooting the video himself. Even the post-production job has been done remotely with everyone sitting at home.
What was the initial brief from Sony TV? How did you decide to make the lockdown a part of the campaign?
So we normally do KBC campaigns in two phases. The first is the call for registration, and the second is a more thematic video. This one is just for the registration, and the second will be done as and when the time arrives. The best thing about the client is that they give us ample time to think about the concept. We were initially thinking on a different direction. But keeping in mind the situation around the world, we had to change our pattern.
How supportive was Amitabh Bachchan in the entire process?
I am still amazed at Mr Bachchan’s appetite to do something different. He was very enthusiastic, and that really helped us all. He was very forthcoming and inquisitive. I just had to sent him the scratch, and he was on it. He did say that he will be taking help from Abhishek (Bachchan).
As a director, how were you monitoring the shoot?
I was not monitoring at all. It could have interfered in the audio and the entire shooting process. However, as I told you, he was extremely proactive. He shot each line a couple of times in different ways and locations. I hadn’t expected him to call me to say that in case I need any change, he will re-shoot it. But with his calibre and talent, we didn’t need any modification. The production, with editing and sound mix, did take a little longer, but I am happy to go through the experience. You never know when it can come handy again.
Do you feel bigger projects can also be shot at home like this?
I would not want to do it as a filmmaker because of the restrictions. We were fortunate that we were prepared for it from the writing stage. I fear that this shouldn’t become the norm. If possible, I would love to go and shoot, as there can be far better ways to go about things.
You have had a long association with Kaun Banega Crorepati. What makes you come back to it again every year?
I have some very fond memories with the show. I am actually grateful to KBC for coming into my life. It has been such a gratifying experience to churn out such great content every year. I hope I am associated with the show for many more years. And we keep getting such interesting and memorable campaigns.
Which has been your favourite KBC theme till now?
It’s really difficult to pick one. How do you choose from your own babies? (laughs). However, I will mention two campaigns. After two successful themes, we were brainstorming on what we could do next. That’s when we zeroed in on ‘Gyaan hi aapko aaka haq dilata hain’ (season 6). It resonated so much with our people. Not many are well versed, have a rich father, or they are just girls. There are all kinds of discrimination that one faces. However, KBC is a great leveller, and anyone who has knowledge, can win big. The second one I would mention is ‘Jawaab dene ka waqt aa gaya hai’ (season 9). We were kind of having a writer’s block when we came out with this. The theme also resonated with so many people. Society keeps asking you all kinds of questions all the time, and KBC could be the answer for it. So if I am forced to pick, I will choose these two.
While ad-making is a creatively enriching experience, films bring recognition. Which one is more satisfying for you?
Recognition is far more when it comes to feature films as people are aware that you have done it, unlike ads. However, I have lived for a long time behind the scenes in my journey. And I am quite happy in that space. Even during the initial days, when I moved from engineering to advertisement, my only gratification was that people were seeing my work and liking it. I think it’s still sufficient for me. Today though, with the influx of social media, things have changed. Many more people know about who makes ads.
How has the lockdown been for you?
The first couple of weeks, we didn’t know exactly what was happening. We were grappling with the situation. With no help at home, there were so many things which we were completely unaware of. But with time, both of us (wife Ashwini Iyer Tiwari) have surprised ourselves. I never knew Ashwini could cook so well. She now finds it liberating and has been putting her heart into it. We both have also gotten back to our work. We are getting used to the routine, and are quite happy in our world. This is a necessity right now, and we would be fine to carry on till it’s required.
What have you been working on?
Through video calls, I am working with my team on the story of Narayan Murthy and Sudha Murthy. That takes up a lot of my day. I also try to help with household chores or with kids whenever possible. Whatever we can do from a distance, we have been working on it.
How much do you think the industry will change post the lockdown?
I think it will be a gradual return to normalcy. This is what I foresee. There would be a lot of precaution in the initial days. But I think we are all mentally prepared for the same now.