Director Sanjeev Kumar has carved a niche on television

Director Sanjeev Kumar’s motto has always been to dream big. When he passed out from the Pune Film Institute with a gold medal and Asian Academy of Film and Television, Delhi, he got an early break to work as an associate director with Tol Mol Ke Bol, a reality show on television and since then he has never looked back. For the Telugu audiences, he is known for Jollywood Express, which he directed on Gemini eight years ago. “The show spread laughter all around,” recalls Sanjeev.

Now he is the ‘reality’ director calling the shots for three shows on ETV: Jabardasth, a comedy show, Cash with Suma and Dhee a dance reality show. Jabardasth Khatarnak, a weekly comedy show with judges as Nagababu and Roja began with a simple format. “We thought of a 13-week series but in two weeks, the show began to climb the TRP ladder. People even compared the show to Kolaveri Di. You don’t know how it works but it works and in no time the programme became popular,” he says. The director attributes Jabardasth’s popularity to participants Dhanraj, Venu, Raghava and others. “They are six lovely participants, all up and coming comedians and their performances speak for themselves. They do various skits and with no elimination, it’s a funny show every week,” and adds, “Mallemalla Entertainments headed by Shyam Prasad Reddy is the producer and it is wonderful to have a producer who thinks big.” Doesn’t the programme cross the entertainment limit? “There is a thin line between vulgarity and masala. The show has non-veg and masala in it but the Telugu audience is exposed to world television and they have taken a liking for it.”

Mammoth sets mark Sanjeev’s shows. In Cash hosted by Suma, the set looks like it has been created on the 20th floor! Sanjeev’s repertoire also includes shows for Kannada and Tamil television. He made a record with Adurs which he directed in six languages. With a production house called Boxoffice Entertainment in Bengaluru, he wants to take reality shows to their next level.

“I want to make shows on par with shows like Amazing Race, Man Vs Food and Crystal Maze.”

With popularity comes pressure. “You are good as your last Thursday when the TRP ratings are revealed,” smiles Sanjeev. Named after actor Sanjeev Kumar, (“My mother is a big fan. Our houses in Bengaluru and Chennai are also named after the actor”), he is working on his dream to make high-budget movies. “I am scripting an action thriller and once it is done I will approach the stars. Otherwise, nobody gives new director a chance,” he signs off.