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How the creators of ‘Ghar Waapsi’ made the idea of the provincial a runway success

They speak of their decision to be firmly rooted in the milieu and how that proved to be rewarding

Ghar Waapsi, Ghar Waapsi show, Ghar Waapsi OTT show, creators of Ghar Waaspi, makers of Ghar Waapsi, Ghar Waapsi story, eye 2022, sunday eye, indian express newsA still from 'Ghar Waapsi'

Though the Ghar Waapsi team was confident that they’d made a “good show”, they wondered how many people were going to watch it when it dropped on Disney+ Hotstar last month. “After all, no one was threatening to nuke a city nor was the planet at stake. However, we knew those who would watch it, would like it,” says director Ruchir Arun. The team was overwhelmed when the show, with help of strong word-of-mouth publicity, became one of the most-watched new shows.

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The show is about a 28-year-old upwardly-mobile professional Shekhar Dwivedi, essayed by popular television actor Vishal Vashishtha, who returns home to Indore for an indefinite period after losing his job in Bengaluru. As he tries to find a new routine and purpose in his old city, friends and memories that he had left behind make a comeback into his life. “It’s not about just telling a story. The audience today has keen eyes. When something is truthful, they relate to it,” says Arun, as he wonders what makes the show “likable”.

The show was conceptualised by Dice Media keeping in mind the pandemic and how it precipitated the return of many professionals to their hometowns. “The idea of a show, centred around homecoming, was lying dormant at Dice Media for some years. It found its relevance now. Though the pandemic was the trigger, we consciously don’t mention it. Else it would have dominated the narrative,” says Bharat Mishra, who wrote the show with Tatsat Pandey. Instead, the writers chose to focus on the protagonist’s struggle to fit in even though he was in his familiar territory. Soon, his parents’ troubles and distance between the siblings become a bigger concern for Shekhar than his unemployment.

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From left to right: Tatsat Pandey, Ruchir Arun and Bharat Mishra

Once the idea was greenlit in mid-2021, the two writers spent hours talking to each other to develop the story. Mishra was in Pune during that period while Pandey was in Indore. However, they had a common link: Indore. While Pandey had lived and studied there until he completed his MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Indore, Mishra used to visit his grandparents there during his school vacations. As the show’s creative director Kartik Krishnan insisted on making a Tier-II city the show’s setting, Dice Media teamed them up to ensure authenticity in the narrative. Previously, Pandey had written a detective show for Dice Media while Mishra has been working with them for nearly four years. Arun, who has directed shows like Little Things and What the Folks, came on board just before the writers finalised the script.

As visualised by the creators, Indore’s languid life, unique characteristics and culture have seeped into the story. “In Indore, everything starts and ends with food. If you ask someone for directions, that person might reply something like: ‘If you go straight, then you will find a pohe ki dukaan…then turn right towards a person selling chhole bature,” says Pandey. That explains the profuse mention of food on the show. The city’s ‘lovers’ point’, open playgrounds and popular joints such as Red Bucket kachori shop too are part of the narrative.

A still from ‘Ghar Waapsi’

What kept their writing realistic, believes Pandey, is what they had observed around them. “For the heart-to-heart chat that Shekhar has with his sister on their terrace, I imagined talking to my elder brother after living away from home,” he says. Similarly, Mishra revisited his relationship with his wife and their courtship days. “On the show, Shekhar and his love interest Riddhima arrived at the same decision at the time. That’s possible when a couple is into each other,” he says.

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Arun and the writers read the script together to fine-tune the core idea behind Ghar Waapsi and be on the same page. “The nok-jhok (banter) between Shekhar and his siblings reminded me of the dynamics my father shared with his brothers,” recalls Arun. Once the actors were on the sets, they elevated the script with their interpretation. Vashishtha stood out as the stoic protagonist while Atul Srivastava and Vibha Chhibber seem effortless as his foodie father and short-tempered mother, respectively. Ajitesh Gupta, who was the last to join the cast, is superb as Shekhar’s loyal friend Darshan. During the 38-day shoot in winter, Arun says it was the thrill of working with such an involved cast that inspired him to get out of bed on those chilly mornings.

A still from ‘Ghar Waapsi’

In this age of edgy and fast-paced shows, Ghar Waapsi adopts an “unhurried pace” as the characters mend their relationships, learn from their mistakes and evolve. Pandey quips: “While telling the story of a slow-paced life, you can’t possibly have a fast-cut edit.” Arun was keen on maintaining the “gentle rhythm” of the place and its people. They even opposed the suggestion made by Disney+ Hotstar that the length of each episode should be reduced to around 30 minutes. “We believed the show’s soul would be compromised by that,” says Arun.

First published on: 28-08-2022 at 06:15 IST
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