He showed a lot of promise as a director with his debut film ‘Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai’ (2001). The film did not do well at the box-office but since then, Goldie Behl has produced and directed several successful shows on television and now, he has stepped into the digital world with ‘RejctX’, a show which has been produced and directed by him. In this exclusive interview, he talks about the positive response to the show, writing it while dealing with a personal crisis, why he would have liked to make his first film differently, the experience of working in the digital medium and more.
‘RejctX’ was your first digital show and has been received well. How do you feel?
It feels great to see all the wonderful feedback the show has received. The show was also special since it was created and directed by me and was my first outing in the digital space. The success of the show has given me the confidence to create more content for the web space.
‘Remix’, the hit TV show you produced in 2004, is still remembered by fans. ‘RejectX’ had a few similarities to it.
Yes, there are a few things which are similar like the music band and a couple of other factors. But, the world has changed drastically in these fifteen years. I thought it was time to do another show which talks about the spirit of the young adults in our country. ‘Remix’ came in 2004 and since then, there has barely been any show which has talked about their issues, mindset and moralities in the present times in a significant way. Most of the shows that were made in this space seemed very superficial to me. I had been wanting to make a youth based show for some time but it took a while for things to fall into place.
What is the kind of research or preparation you did for the show? Did you meet teenagers or go to schools or colleges to observe or interact with them?
My son and nephew are teenagers. I spent a lot of time with them and their friends and spoke to them about various topics and asked them to share their opinion on several issues. I try to constantly update myself as a filmmaker.
Your wife Sonali Bendre Behl was undergoing treatment for high-grade cancer in New York when you were writing the show. It must have been difficult.
Actually, working on the show during this phase helped me release a part of the stress I was going through. It worked as a distraction and I needed it at that point of time.
Apart from producing several successful television shows over the years, you had also directed the finite TV series ‘Reporters’. Do you think a show like that was more suitable for the digital space and should have arrived now?
‘Reporters’ did very well as a TV show, so this thought never occurred to me. I had a great time working with Rajeev (Khandelwal) and Kritika (Kamra) on the show. It was also a project which got me back into direction. After that, I directed a historical show for Star Plus called ‘Aarambh Kahaani Devsena Ki’. I have been telling SET India that we should do a second season of ‘Reporters’ for Sony LIV.
You made a very confident debut as a director with ‘Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai’. It had one of the best performances by Abhishek Bachchan and had a very good soundtrack by Aadesh Shrivastava. Do you think the film was ahead of its time and that was one of the reasons why it did not get its due then?
I am glad you liked the film but when it released it was not considered a great debut (laughs). As far as it being ahead of its time is concerned, I think every film should be in sync with the time it is made in. I made that film for a younger audience but the film was probably too intense for their liking. It should have been a younger film. I do get appreciation for the film when people watch the film on television or on digital but in hindsight, there were a few things that I could have done differently while making ‘Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai’.
You have directed just two films (‘Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai’ (2001), ‘Drona’ (2008)) in eighteen years. Why?
I was busy with multiple shows as a producer and that did not leave me with enough time to direct films. Also, I think I should not have taken my failures to my heart. I would like to direct more often now. I might not necessarily direct films in the near future but I will be developing a lot of shows for the web. I am also planning to produce and direct films for digital platforms.
What do you think of the digital medium?
The content which is being made in the web space is far more innovative than the content being churned out elsewhere. There is a lot of freedom and you can experiment with different kinds of subjects. When you are doing television, you are bound by a lot of network guidelines. That is not a bad thing as that has been the norm there but there are certain kind of stories that cannot be told on television. A show like ‘Reporters’ was in tune with the TV audience’s sensibilities but not ‘Aarambh Kahaani Devsena Ki’. Web has added a lot of variety to the entertainment and content generating space. Nowadays, you make the kind of content you want to and eventually, it will find a distribution network to go through.
Your sister Srishti Arya, who has been your producing partner in several films and shows, is in charge of looking after the Indian slate for Netflix India. Are you planning to develop a show or a film for Netflix?
I would love to work with Netflix. The quality of the content they make is incredible. However, at the moment, there is nothing that we are pitching to them.
Abhay and Kapil Chopra have been remaking the films (‘Ittefaq’ and ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’) produced by their family. Would you like to remake any of those iconic films produced by your father Ramesh Behl?
No, I think a lot of his films have already been remade by different filmmakers.
Unofficial remakes, you mean?
Are you planning to take a break from television?
Right now, my focus is on developing content for the web. We might do something on television a little later but right now, we are not pitching anything.
What are you doing next?
I am in the process of remaking the popular Israeli show ‘The Stylist’ for Viu. I will be producing and directing the show.