Television actor Varun Badola has been keeping himself busy during the lockdown. The actor, who recently appeared in Sony TV’s Mere Dad Ki Dulhan opposite Shweta Tiwari, is writing a script for Netflix, reading books and listening to music.
Recently, Badola went live from the Facebook page of The Indian Express. During the session, he talked about the growth of OTT platforms, change in television content and the impact of lockdown on the entertainment industry.
Here are excerpts from the live session:
Are you missing work?
Everybody is missing work but this lockdown is actually a God-sent opportunity because, after this, our lives will not remain the same. People are going to change. I hope we all learn something from this lockdown.
How are you keeping yourself busy during the lockdown?
There was a lot of writing work that was pending. So, I am trying to complete that. I am reading some books. Also, listening to a lot of music.
What are you writing?
I am writing a show for Netflix. Not sure when it will go on the floors though.
What is the series like?
In 2018, Apaharan, my ALTBalaji series, had released. I wrote dialogues for it. Even now the series I am writing is kind of on the same line/genre and it should have been on floors by now but at present, I am making the script better.
When did you realise you can write?
Before I started acting, I was an Assistant Director to Tigmanshu Dhulia. Soon, I became Chief Assistant Director. I wrote scenes during those days. After that, I started writing dialogues, screenplay and so on. That is when I realised I could write. I was lucky that he thought I could take that responsibility. Ek Chabi Hai Pados Mein is one of the first television serials I wrote for but acting and writing together was becoming a task. Recently, Sidharth Sen Gupta called me to write for Apaharan, the ALTBalaji series. After that, I have written for four-five shows so far.
Is it easier for you to write during the lockdown?
No actually. We are so used to working in the distracted frame of mind that even the calm doesn’t let you work. I am getting distracted because of silence. (chuckles)
Do you think post-lockdown, the television industry and the way it works will undergo change?
The television industry will change. It should. Not only the television industry, but it is also the problem of people in the country that we do not look after our basic sanitation needs and human safety. Every individual who is working for you should get a certain amount of security and respect. We need to up our game. I heard that many want shootings to resume. Daily wagers of film/television industry are suffering the most because shoots have been cancelled but right now, how will you make someone come to the sets and work. Having said that, the kind of environment we work in, there is a need for a change in a lot of things. We work without even taking note of the time, which is not advisable. So, we need to reflect on how we are working and how we need to work going forward.
Has television content changed over the years?
I am sorry to disappoint but the change has not been very great. The television of the late 80s and early 90s offered much better content. Later, economics took over creativity. I think we lost the mileage we gained. Now, things are created which make no sense but TRPs are flowing in.
Do you see OTT taking over television?
Not so soon but I think the smartphone will play a very important role in how people are viewing content. It has enabled the concept of personal viewing. However, there is still growth in television viewing, which proves that both OTT and television will grow together for some time. But, the growth of web content has surely made it evident that it is a fallacy that people are happy with saas-bahu daily soaps. We have to make good content, not only eye-catchy.
Old shows are being re-aired on television and getting great response. What do you think is the reason?
The current television watching generation also includes those who have seen these shows when they first aired. If today shows such as Ramayan can top the TRP charts then, of course, they (makers) made something good. I make my son watch Ramayan and Mahabharat. I believe that good content never fails to entertain.