Anupamaa Producer Breaks Silence On Firing Actors: ‘Nobody Is Above The Show’

Published By: Chirag Sehgal

Last Updated: January 20, 2024, 15:43 IST

Rajan Shahi’s inaugural breakthrough came with Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi.

Rajan Shahi’s inaugural breakthrough came with Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi, also featuring Rupali Ganguly, now the lead in his highly-rated show Anupamaa.

In the ever-evolving landscape of Indian television, a medium that has witnessed both its glorious days and current prominence in the era of OTT content, one name stands out – Rajan Shahi. Widely recognised as a stalwart among TV producers, Shahi’s journey in the showbiz world is intriguingly intertwined with his family legacy, being the grandson of the silent era actor P Jairaj, honoured with the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award. Shahi’s foray into the entertainment industry commenced as a junior artist, where he honed his craft by assisting renowned figures like Sanjay Khan, Gulzar, and Ravi Rai.

His inaugural breakthrough came with Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi, also featuring Rupali Ganguly, now the lead in his highly-rated show Anupamaa.

Reflecting on his trajectory, Shahi reminisces about his initiation with Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi and the subsequent production of 18 to 19 shows. In 2007, he made a significant mark as a producer with Sapna Babul Ka: Bidaai, which defied prevailing trends with its emphasis on genuine storytelling over flamboyant acting and ostentatious costumes. Amidst the industry’s perception of losing its allure, Shahi strives to be a game-changer, with his latest venture, Anupamaa, emerging as a trendsetter even in the post-Covid era.

Notably, the show, nearing its fourth year, has gained international recognition for addressing pressing issues such as child diabetes and panic attacks.

“Daily soaps have to run longer because so much is invested in them, but creating a brand out of it gets difficult. People are not connecting to TV shows these days. Anupamaa has become a landmark show, it has international recognition,” he says.

Contrary to the prevailing notion that the era of television is waning, Shahi contends that TV actors surpass even Bollywood stars in terms of viewership. “TV actors are bigger than big movie stars, the viewership they have is incredible,” he says. He also proudly mentions a special campaign with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for vocal for local, underscoring the show’s broad reach and impact.

Recently embroiled in controversy over his statements about actors causing challenges, Shahi defends his position by emphasising that no one is above the show. He believes in falling in love with his actors but maintains that misbehaviour will not be tolerated.

“I have had a lot of controversies with actors, but I feel nobody is above the show, not even the producer. This is a creative field, in the industry everything goes through ups and downs with the best of people. I always appreciate my actors. However, there is a wrong perception that a lot of actors claim they shoot for 18 hours. It does happen sometimes, but not always. Some fans and even actors create a very wrong perception of the producers being bullies,” he explains.

Shahi recalls instances of politely asking actors to leave the set if they do not adhere to the work ethic. Shahi goes on to say that he loves his actors and even his technical staff is of equal importance to him. “How they behave and talk with the unit, these things matter to me the most. I have learned from Ektaji (Kapoor) that nobody will hold the show for ransom. A character can be changed in a second, and I have done that,” he adds.

With a plethora of successful shows under his belt, including the longest-running Indian TV show, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, boasting around 4300 episodes, Shahi stands as one-of-a-kind in the world of television production.

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