A conversation with Pavan Malhotra, Gauahar Khan and Gulshan Devaiah
MX Player’s new series, ‘Shiksha Mandal’, is a hard-hitting narrative inspired by true events that revolve around the biggest scam in the educational system in India. ‘Shiksha Mandal - Power Paise Ka... Scam Shiksha Ka’ seeks to reveal corruption, fraud, cheating and criminal conspiracy that affects vulnerable students in India. This MX Original Series is directed by Syed Ahmad Afzal and stars Gauahar Khan, Gulshan Devaiah and Pavan Malhotra in lead roles.
In an exclusive conversation with Adgully, Pavan Malhotra, Gauahar Khan, and Gulshan Devaiah, speak about ‘Shiksha Mandal’, character preparation, the current scenario of the Bollywood industry, their take on OTT, and much more.
When this script came across to you, what was the first thought or reaction in your mind?
Gauahar Khan: There is no one particular scam that this show is about; it’s a story about how educational scams are affecting people’s right to education because of corruption. What attracted me the most was the script, which is based on true events where we are playing fictional characters.
After reading the script what kind of preparation went into building the characters?
Pawan Malhotra: To begin with, I liked the script and the team which was working on it. Preparing for the character is important as I was playing the role of a man working in a cowshed. In the beginning I was really nervous about the dialogues, but in the end we all got it right.
Gauahar Khan: The director was there to guide us, but playing the role of a cop, it’s your responsibility to essay the role in a realistic manner. We also had training on how to use weapons. Our action director Salam Sir worked very hard with us.
Gulshan Devaiah: After reading the script I used my imagination, I tend to imagine the character to be in a certain way and I discussed my ideas with the director. It’s a job of great responsibility which my character believes and I also did some readings with Afzal and some of my ideas were working.
Many movies nowadays are based on some scam or the other, so what fact about the story blew your mind?
Gulshan Devaiah: I had heard of a lot of scams, but sometimes you don’t know all the details and when you get a script related to a scam, then you start noticing things. And if you’re curious to know about what had happened, then you search for the facts. There was one fact that blew my mind, but I won’t say it as it might appear to the audience that my role is based on it.
What is your take on the current state of Bollywood?
Pawan Malhotra: If you notice, most of the films in Hindi cinema haven’t done good business recently. But if you look back, the same thing had also happened in the 80’s, when a lot of flops came in a row. You tend to only see the hits. So, many dubbed Tamil and Telugu movies have come to our notice because they have done good business. We can’t force the audience to watch every movie that releases. One needs to remember that changes do happens in the Cinema industry. There was a time when superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s movies were flopping one after the other. It is a phase.
Gulshan Devaiah: I would like to add some things here. I hold the media responsible for sounding the dooms day for Bollywood highlighting that Bollywood movies are not working. I don’t know why, but for some reason it has become a trend that media is writing that the South has whitewashed Hindi cinema. It’s too farfetched for them to write like this.
Gauahar Khan: There are some films that don’t do good business in theatres, but a lot of people still remember them. My debut film, ‘Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year’, is the biggest example of that.
How do you view the tremendous rise of OTT?
Gulshan Devaiah: Everybody has more work now as there is a new medium which is thriving. Now it is OTT, earlier it used to be Television, then there is the world of Advertising. Now there is a bigger avenue and OTT is as big as theatres. It is empowering storytellers to tell stories in the long format.
These are edited excerpts. For the complete interaction watch below: