GEC shows need to be more relatable to viewers: Siddharth Kumar Tewary

The promo ads are out and they look impressive. Shooting for the upcoming historical show ‘Porus’ is currently on in Thailand. The show, which will be aired on Sony TV, is said to be the costliest show on Indian television so far, with a reported budget of Rs 500 crore, as per media reports. 

Siddharth Kumar Tewary, Founder, Swastik Productions, has acquired the IP rights of ‘Porus’, thus becoming the first producer in India to claim IP rights of a show. The rights are normally with the channel. Tewary is writing, producing and directing ‘Porus’. 

Founded in 2007, Swastik Productions has produced the maximum number of mythological and historical serials, including ‘Mahakaali’ currently on air on Colors, ‘Mahabharat’, ‘Razia Sultan’, ‘Shani’, ‘Shri Krishna’, and ‘Suryaputra Karn’. The production house also came out with shows like ‘Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo’, ‘Mata Ki Chowki’, ‘Amber Dhara’, and ‘Begusarai’, among others. It recently launched a light-hearted emotional drama on Sony SAB, ‘Shankar Jay Kishan’. In its 10-year existence, Swastik has produced over 15 television shows. 

Prior to setting up Swastik Productions, Tewary was an executive producer with Sony Pictures Networks, where he worked with SET Max first and then Sony Entertainment Television. Kolkata-born and bred, Tewary came to Mumbai to realise his media dreams. 

In a freewheeling conversation with Adgully, Siddharth Kumar Tewary speaks about the 10-year journey of Swastik Productions, upcoming show ‘Porus’, creativity in Indian television shows, regressive content, evolution of the Hindi GEC space, and much more. Excerpts: 

How has the Hindi GEC space evolved in the last 10 years?
If we summarise the concepts which used to be seen on television 10 years back, we will notice that across every channel we used to see similar stories. But today, we have very varied storylines – for instance, we have ‘Beyhad’ on Sony, ‘Kumkum Bhagya’ on Zee, and ‘Shani’ on Colors. 

On a personal note, I had never imagined that I would one day be a part of production, because it was never on my agenda. But I have always love to tell stories and in India, the only way you can do it on television is by producing it and that’s how Swastik Productions came into existence. 

I am grateful to NP Singh (CEO, Sony Pictures Networks India), who had guided me when I was with Sony and had always encouraged me to follow my dreams. 

My first show was ‘Amber Dhara’, which was story of two conjoined twin sisters which went on air on September 24, 2007. This was the idea with which I left Sony, without having any experience or money. I eventually found a partner who funded us and finally the show went on air. Thus, we will be celebrating Swastik Productions’ birthday on September 24, 2017. 

We are here to create some interesting and different stories for the masses that are very different from the regular saas-bahu conflicts. 

How do you intend to draw in a generation of viewers that is more used to digital media? What are the challenges in connecting with Gen Next for mythological and historical shows?
We focus on creating extraordinary and unique story plots and characters – the way they talk, their actions, their costumes – which are intended to connect with the younger generation. For this we do pre-production for 6 months to train all our actors for their respective characters so that they can perform well before the show hits the floor. 

Why have you named the show ‘Porus’, which is a Greek/ Latin name, instead of the Indian Puru? This is a story that has never been seen on TV screens. How do you plan to tell the story?

Although his name was Purushottam (Puru), we titled the show as ‘Porus’ because he was popularly known by this name and one will find more data regarding him where he is introduced as ‘Porus’. Basically, for the show, the Persians will call him Porus, while for others we have retained his original name ‘Puru’. 

We are the first production house in India to own the IP of a show completely. With that we have all digital rights for the content, syndication and mobile platforms nationally as well as internationally. 

We all have heard about the time when India was known as ‘Sone ki chidiya’, a prosperous nation that was also rich culturally. Keeping all this things in mind, we wanted to come up with something new and unique and that’s how ‘Porus’ was conceived. The biggest conquer in the world was stopped by Porus. Thus, the story illustrates the struggle between the biggest conqueror and the defender. The show will run on television for one year. 

The basic factor that one needs to keep in mind while ideating any concept is that it should be relevant for today’s audiences. If the content does not resonate with the masses, then it will definitely not run for a longer period of time. 

For Swastik Productions, the objective is to create something relevant or something which can appeal to viewers from all segments so that they can enjoy watching it. 

Besides being a director, I also work as a story writer and screenplay writer for most of my shows because we always want our shows to deliver messages in an entertaining format to the masses. 

Are our Hindi GECs losing the plot when it comes to depicting the hopes & aspirations as well as life in India’s heartland, as opposed to the latest Bollywood releases like ‘Toilet - Ek Prem Katha’, ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’, ‘Bareili Ki Barfi’, even ‘Dangal’, ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, ‘Dum Lagake Haisha’, and ‘Raanjhana’?
Currently, in our GEC space we have all kinds of audiences. Some of them might love to see the dynamic, decked-up look of the actors with heavy make-up and flashy costumes, which can be an escape from realism. But there is also part of the audience that does not like watching such shows. But since we are in the GEC space, we need to create content on a relatable space, because we have different bands of viewers.


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