Three yr in the past, Karan Johar launched the digital wing of Dharma Productions. Dharmatic Leisure discovered its Creative Head, Fiction in Somen Mishra, and Creative Head, Non-Fiction in one other acquainted face.
Aneesha Baig, former NDTV leisure and meals journalist, has fronted Dharma’s maiden tryst with unscripted content material. After the success of her first present, The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives, that nobody may cease speaking about (not all good issues although), she is now again with Dharmatic’s newest non-fiction providing in Searching For Sheela, a documentary on religious guru Osho’s notorious aide Ma Anand Sheela.
In an unique interview, Baig talks about bringing range to Dharma, the criticism in opposition to The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives, and the way non-fiction suits right into a manufacturing home most well-known for escapist leisure.
Why did you resolve to make the change from a journalist to a Non-Fiction producer at Dharmatic Leisure?
Even throughout my years at NDTV, I truly loved manufacturing greater than I ever loved anchoring, the element and the approaching collectively of content material into an entire. So this allowed me to do what I take pleasure in essentially the most, simply on a special scale altogether. It was at all times reveals over tales, and options over reviews for me. And so this felt like simply this superb alternative to strive all of the issues, and try all of the concepts I ever had.
How totally different has the brand new function turned out to be out of your final one?
Each totally and in no way. In information, it is at all times about what’s topical, what’s related, what’s of the minute, and it comes with its personal rush and rewards. Right here, the frenzy is of a special type: we get to plan, and to excellent, and to blow up an thought to as huge as it may be. So, it’s been unbelievable simply readjusting the goalposts.
What’s your imaginative and prescient of the non-fiction content material at Dharmatic? How synchronised is it with that of the bosses, Karan Johar (proprietor) and Apurva Mehta (CEO)?
I feel our imaginative and prescient is primarily to inform good, entertaining tales, to be totally unapologetic for the responsible pleasures, and equally, to try to shock individuals the place we will. I like that our first two releases are as diverse as The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives and Searching for Sheela.
I like a very good actuality present, I actually do. And we needed to make one which tonally and stylistically we hadn’t seen earlier than. A enjoyable, sassy, unrepentantly shiny and gossipy romp, and I like to assume we did precisely that. The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives was truly Karan’s thought, and I don’t know how he will get it so proper with casting, however he does each time. All concepts are shared and mentioned and loved and expanded with Karan and Apoorva, and that is an enormous a part of the method. They’re each so hands-on and engaged, and Karan is, after all, only a nicely of concepts and makes day by day miracles occur for us.
Once I interviewed Somen Mishra, he instructed me he goals to bridge the hole between “Dharma and Versova” by bringing recent voices to the storytelling. What hole would you like to fill on the non-fiction entrance?
I do not find out about a niche as such. That is the primary time Dharma has dived so deeply into unscripted content material, and so there are recent learnings for us on daily basis. We’re grasping for concepts and enjoyable tales, and OTTs permit us to strive all types of issues which is the place the enjoyable lies. And if we will come shut, at any stage, to the range, nuance, and ambition that Somen brings to Dharmatic, I will be fairly darn happy. And if we’re in a position to get individuals hooked to unscripted collection the way in which they’re to scripted, that is the objective.
Do you assume the very nature of the non-fiction style stands in battle with a model that’s perceived because the one which builds goals and affords escapism?
See, the type of cinema that Dharma is thought for, that model, that tag is consistently being advanced, and then you definately add the truth that Dharmatic was opened to do issues that are not performed at Dharma — not in a aggressive type of manner, however a bolstering, cross-pollinating, dynamic type of manner — with artists and skills and aesthetics and concepts being pushed and bounced between. And that’s why we see Shakun (Batra, government producer on Searching For Sheela) working on an thrilling unscripted movie, and why Ajeeb Daastaans boasts of the storytellers it does, and why a actuality present like The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives is so scaled up, so glamorous, as a result of these are the Dharma aesthetics. So no, no battle in any respect.
What are the influences Dharma’s motion pictures have had on you as a moviegoer and journalist? What a part of their signature strengths would you like to maintain within the non-fiction content material?
The simple reply is after all the aesthetic, scale, and a spotlight to element, however once more additionally Dharma has truly tried so many extra issues than it is given credit score for, and we would like to do the identical. From the lavish and entertaining to the gritty/extra severe.
How do you assess The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives as your maiden enterprise at Dharmatic? Will the criticism it acquired issue into how season 2 is formed or positioned?
Look, I and all the staff, we knew we had been going to get trolled from the outset, and that lots of people would have situation with it, and that critics wouldn’t like it, we knew and we had been braced, ALL of us, However I additionally assume we achieved what we set out to do and a few extra apart from. As a result of for all of the criticism, we truly obtained quite a lot of love (Maheep, Seema, Neelam, and Bhavana most of all), and we had been thrilled at how many individuals had been watching it. And that individuals loved a present that had friendship on the coronary heart of it, that celebrated a demographic we do not at all times see represented on display screen, that it is travelled thus far and we obtained suggestions from everywhere in the world. The one criticism that stung was that we weren’t self-aware, as a result of we had been! We additionally recognise and benefit from the innate absurdities of this world. I feel that some individuals missed that we had been in on the humour too.
Additionally, in order for you the critics to love you, by no means make actuality reveals! So we all know that that’s not the measure of how we transfer ahead, we simply try to discover the tales of their precise lives, of which there is no such thing as a scarcity. And if Season 1 was an introduction to these characters and their world, I’m very excited to dive into Season 2, as a result of we all know — and so does the forged — that if there was any holding again the primary day trip, that will not fly this time. They’re all a hoot truly, and let’s simply say that there are some very intriguing developments taking place already, which we’re all more than happy to give you the chance to seize.
(Additionally learn: Netflix’s latest actuality present ought to’ve been referred to as The Guarded Lives of Bollywood Lives)
Searching For Sheela has been an formidable undertaking for everybody concerned. What has been your most fruitful contribution in making this documentary?
I feel I used to be simply excited and pleased we might be a part of this. Sheela is a deeply fascinating character. Shakun is somebody I a) admire and was very eager to collaborate with, b) somebody who’s been manner forward of the curve in following Sheela’s story (nicely earlier than Wild, Wild Nation). So when he introduced the concept to us, we jumped at it.
How do you see the scope of non-fiction content material altering in India?
I feel it’s going to be a extremely thrilling time. I do know as a client, I am having the very best time watching the type of unscripted reveals/movies which can be accessible now. You may bounce between Indian Matchmaking and the Kardashians, or between Dangerous Boy Billionaires and My Octopus Instructor. It means we’re free, even inspired, to do reveals that have not been performed earlier than, to discover all types of tales and enjoyable methods to inform them.
Lastly, you’ve been a famend meals critic. Do you’ve any ambition for a meals or journey present at Dharmatic?
God I want. I like tales instructed by/with meals. I might love to get a extremely thrilling one going. I’ve just a few concepts, let’s see. It is a house, it might be argued, that I take pleasure in a bit of an excessive amount of.
Searching For Sheela, Dharmatic Leisure’s new non-fiction providing, will stream on Netflix India from 22 April.