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Ek Deewaana Tha is my first attempt at finite storytelling: Prateek Sharma

Straddling the unusual genre of romance-cum-horror, Sony Entertainment Television’s new show ‘Ek Deewana Tha’ went on air on October 23, 2017. Airing on Monday to Friday at 10 pm, ‘Ek Deewana Tha’ is love triangle involving Sharanya (Donal Bisht), Vyom (Vikram Singh Chauhan) and Shiv (Namik Paul as a ghost). 

With this show, Prateek Sharma, who has creatively helmed several popular shows like ‘Saathiya’, ‘Jaana Na Dil Se Door’ and ‘Beyhadh’, turns producer, the youngest producer in the industry till date, if reports are to be believed. ‘Ek Deewana Tha’ is being produced under the banner of LSD Films. 

Sharma earlier had a 7-year stint with Star Plus. 

In conversation with Adgully, Prateek Sharma speaks about the new show, the production budget, why he has turned producer, his future projects and much more. Excerpts: 

‘Ek Deewana Tha’ is your first show as a producer. How does it feel to be India’s youngest producer? Why did you decide to turn a producer?
I may be the youngest producer, but that wasn’t my dream. The moment I stepped in Mumbai, that very moment I decided that I wanted to become a producer because I enjoy the entire process. I do not want to restrict myself as a story writer, screenplay writer or a music person or a director. For me, it is my passion, day in and day out I think about my shows and living my dream. So, turning a producer is challenging. I must say that the team in Sony, especially Danish Sir, has supported me a lot and had given me a show like ‘Beyhadh’, which is not the body of work I had done in the past. When I approached him with the idea for ‘Ek Deewaana Tha’, the first thing he asked me was if I wanted to produce this show and extended his full support to me. That is how I turned a producer. 

I come from Indore and my family is not even remotely connected with the entertainment or television industry. But I was always attracted to storytelling and I wanted to do something different. So many people from my college are working in the industry today, and it feels great to see all of them doing great work. I feel it is not just me, but the people who I work with who have contributed immensely to making this dream come true. It is their faith and belief that has made this show a reality. I am excited yet nervous too. 

You have creatively helmed popular shows like ‘Saathiya’, ‘Jaana Na Dil Se Door’ and ‘Beyhadh’. What can the viewers expect from ‘Ek DeewanaTha’?
‘Saathiya’ is a show that ran for seven years. Of these seven years, I spearheaded the show for five years. We were always confident about one thing, which is the pace of the story. ‘Beyhadh’ was another different story, while ‘Jaana Na Dil Se Door’ was an emotional saga and journey. 

In ‘Ek Deewaana Tha’, there is the flavour of thrill, emotions, family drama and beautiful romance. Everything that I have done in the past has been interwoven into this show. Most of the shows that I have worked on have had extensive runtime. ‘Ek Deewaana Tha’ is my first attempt to restrict myself to finite storytelling and gives me more confidence as a writer. Every episode will have a different twist and plot. 

From drama to thrillers, it has been quite an interesting journey with ‘Beyhadh’ being your first thriller series. Which are the other projects in the pipeline?
There are quite a few projects that I am working on right now. There is a thriller and historical concept. But right now, nothing is finalised. There are a couple of web-series projects under discussion as well. As a producer, I do not want to get into a grime, where my shows are being stretched beyond the limit. If everything goes well, I would like to work on my projects only. This is because sometimes when you are working with a writer of a story, you then cannot get into or interfere with other things. When you are a producer, you are completely involved in all the aspects – script, music, production and alike. All the successes and failures are all yours. You are living other people’s dreams when you are working for someone else. I have learnt and grown with every person whom I have worked with. The concept of Creative Director exists in our industry and I feel anyone who is creative should definitely turn a producer one day. 

Namik’s spirit look in the show is quite impressive, how did this look come about?
We did not want the makeup to be like a caricature or scary. We had a clear thought that our ghost should look quite appealing. Ice is an important element in the show and connected to a very important emotion in the show. ‘Ek Deewana Tha’ is a supernatural thriller, hence it was important for us to create a certain ambience. It is easy to scare someone with a scary face, however, building a certain environment of fear is quite challenging. To build an ambience, you need to have a certain element to weave in the entire storyline. The element can be an eye or fire or wind. In our story, the element is ice, since the show is based in the hill station of Mussoorie, there is extreme cold and snow. There will be a big revelation in the story. In the show, whenever the ghost will appear in front of Sharanya, she will start feeling cold and smell the fragrance of fresh flowers. Eventually, she starts connecting these elements. 

Namik’s look has been kept quite subtle and frosty with a special focus on the eyes. The black lenses complete the look. Wearing these lenses is quite painful and Namik wears these lenses for 10 hours at a stretch, which is commendable. In fact, in the first 20 episodes, Namik has no dialogues and it will be amazing to see how his looks tell the tale. 

Dipti Kaprani is the stylist who has created the look. A lot of research and discussions went into it before zeroing in on the final look. Unfortunately, in India, horror has been projected ugly – the character wears a mask with scary makeup. We didn’t want our ghost to look scary or ugly. Namik is a handsome man and we didn’t want to take away his looks or completely transform his real face. In fact, Namik’s most prominent feature is his eyes, those are deep and interesting. The black eyes have a deep connection in our story and there will be a bigger point where Namik’s real eyes will appear in the show. Donal’s look has been kept simple as she is a girl from the mountains, whereas Vikram has been portrayed belonging to an upper-middle-class family. But he is not flamboyant or flashy. In fact, Namik contributed a lot in creating his look. The first screen test that we did with Namik, we were confident of our makeup and look that we had created. 

Do you personally believe in spirits/ghosts? Any interesting encounters that you can share with us?
I do believe a lot in the existence of spirits. Honestly, I have never encountered anything. I have heard a lot of stories from my mother, grandmother and my great-grandmother. But nothing so far that I have experienced or encountered as such. While we were shooting in Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar, a lot of people from the crew spoke of instances, but personally, I didn’t encounter anything. 

There is increasing use of special effects and VFX technology in television today. Could you elaborate on it?
The show uses VFX and motion capture technology, especially since it is a supernatural drama. But we haven’t dwelled on these too much and have instead played on the mood. ‘Ek Deewaana Tha’ is a unique show as it will neither have any scary looking faces, or any kind of flying objects, or anything unreal like a spirit entering a human body. Our story will be quite real; the show is an out and out romantic show with a pinch of horror and the supernatural. 

What is production budget of the show? Could you elaborate on the production value of ‘Ek Deewana Tha’?
I am afraid I cannot talk about the budget. As for production value, you need to watch the show. 50 per cent of the show has been shot outdoors and not at the set. We have a commitment that every month we will shoot outdoors. We have shot in Mussouri, Panchgani, Pune. In fact, we had a 20-day elaborate shoot in Pune, 10 days in Mahabaleshwar and 15 days in Panchgani. 

Any message you would like to give to the youth?
I am yet to achieve and prove myself, therefore, I am not in the right position to give a message to anyone. However, I would like to say that one can achieve anything in their life provided they believe they can. I learnt this from a book I read, titled ‘The Secret’. If you think positively about anything, you will notice magically people connecting with it and things working out. I am grateful to Danish Sir and Sony Entertainment Television for giving me this opportunity and for believing in me. I do hope the show does well and I am able to keep up with the expectations of everyone who has supported and believed in me.


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