Aahat, the longest running thriller on Indian television has got spookier and starrier with television stars like Ketaki Dave, Tanaaz Irani, Roshni Chopra and Karishma Tanna featuring in the series. BP Singh, the producer of the 15-year-old show, has mastered the art of creating a good pot-boiler, something he terms “boiling the scene”.
Excerpts from an interview
What's new in Aahat?
Cashing in on the success of reality television, we have devised a new format in which we are doing a reality show is the series itself. It's an episodic story featuring some big names from the TV industry that are challenged to stay in a haunted house in the jungles of Satara in Maharashtra. The one who stays till the end wins a cash prize.
CID and Achanak 37 Saal Baad are the other thrillers you have produced. How did this fascination with thrillers start?
I started my career in 1973 with Doordarshan as the news cameraman. I worked there for 10 years. Thereafter, I started getting an urge to break free. I thought I could see the scenes from a different and maybe better perspective. I asked Doordarshan if they were interested in serialising some detective stories but didn't get the nod. I made a film called Sirf Char Din, a murder mystery and that is when I developed a fetish for thrillers. While preparing for that film, I used to visit the Crime Branch. I had a friend, Inspector Jayant Wagle. During those visits, I interacted with many officials there. Plus, I was intrigued by the investigation process, the style of the detectives, their modus operandi. I also started reading some detective novels written by Shrikant Sinkar. His writing was very lively. I would feel that the case was happening before me. I started toying with the idea that I would make a detective TV serial one day.
Do you yourself believe in ghosts?
The idea of ghosts is laughable. I never believe anyone who says he's encountered spirits. I have never been spooked even when I have shot in scary locations, like the fields in Satara, deserted palaces in Gujarat and eerie asylums.
Moving on to CID, was it hard to get fresh whodunit plots on regular basis?
It's a very difficult and mindboggling to churn out eight stories a month and we certainly cannot rely on real life inspired incidents for that. The plots are such that if someone reads them before they are shot, he would call it madness. If someone's dead, the secret lies in how it is shot. The interrogation process has to be very intriguing, the chases have to be very realistic, above all there have to be three or four distinct and strong suspects so that the audience keeps debating, guessing or laying bets on.
What do you have to say on the quality of horror shows and films these days?
Ultimately, it all boils down to how one handles the genre. The key factor here is subtlety. But most people don't understand or lack the expertise of dealing with the genre. Aahat relies not so much on grotesque masks and crude make-ups as on suspense, and a sense of mystery. One has to work hard on the script to ensure that the viewer finds something new every time he tunes in. The consistency of Aahat lies in the stories that are convincingly scary and have stood the test of time.
What are your future plans?
We are planning a movie on CID for which the shooting would begin in February next year. All the lead characters of CID would comprise the cast of the movie.
Keywords: television series