Perspective | Going beyond Mumbai
Mumbai, the city of dreams as it’s rightly called, has always been the preferred location for all businesses. From cloth merchandising to infrastructure and from F & B businesses to of course the entertainment sector; the city has been and continues to be attractive to these businesses. The most popular entertainment hub, Mumbai has been the most loved location for the entertainment world. From film shoots to television and ad commercials, Mumbai has been the first choice for producers, directors and to a large extent, the actors as well. But with changing times, this ‘traditional industry practice’ is changing. While Hindi films have in the past been to between locations like U.S, U.K and others back home, television is now taking that route.
A lot of television shows are now being shot outside Mumbai. Cities and towns like Kolkata, Delhi, Jaipur, Ranchi, Boondi are some of the cities one must have seen on shows in recent times. A lot of shows like Madhubala, Sapne Suhane Ladakpan Ke, Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hai, Rangrasiya, Beintehaa, Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha, 12/24 Karol Bagh, Diya Aur Baati Hum, Doli Armano Ki and Ek Hasina Thi have had their initial episodes shot in locations outside Mumbai.
This concept has emerged as a new trend and is opening new opportunities for the makers while adding a flavor to the storyline. Are aspects like geographic, historical, cultural and architectural landscape providing a variety of cinematic opportunities for producers to look for new locations, almost every time?
In this edition of Adgully Perspective, we spoke to industry experts to understand their views on the same. Our panel included Saurabh Tewari, Producer, Tequila Shots Production, Nitin Keni, Producer, Essel Vision Productions Pvt. Ltd., Niret Alva, CEO, Co- Founder, Miditech and Sunjoy Waddhwa, Chairman & Managing Director, Sphereorigins.
According to Tewari, there are two aspects which show makers follow while choosing their location. “One is shooting a few episodes outside Mumbai and then continuing with the shoot in the city or creating a base permanently outside Mumbai. For our show Rangrasiya which airs on COLORS, we shot major part of the show in Rajasthan and rest of the shoots happened in Mumbai. But there are many shows which are slowly shifting their prime base from Mumbai to other cities,” he said.
Expressing his viewpoint Keni said, “Watching the same city culture gets tiresome for the viewers and there’s lot of good content we can get from outside a particular city. The different locations add a new flavor for your audience and connect well with a particular set of audience. It also has a dual purpose. While you try and explore different flavor, characters and the varied local languages for the national audience, you also connect directly with the local audience.”
“Earlier, we used to travel to Mumbai three days a week which was pretty hectic but Mumbai was the hub of production houses. But since past couple of years I have noticed that there is saturation on the infrastructure front, the studio facility is tough to come by and is not at the standard that you expect. Within the producer and broadcast community, people are looking to expand outside of Mumbai,” shared Alva.
Waddhwa is of the opinion that the costs of sets and locations in Mumbai are sky rocketing, due to lack of space. “If at all we do find a location, it is not open and spacious. The audiences are always on the lookout for something different and exciting, hence a location outside Mumbai gives a new look and feel to the show”, he added.
Shooting a show in Mumbai or outside Mumbai has its own pros and cons in terms of availability of location, equipment, budget, quality and infrastructure. Every production house follows its own method of projecting a location and shooting a show.
Explaining the different challenges producers face in this matter, Tewari said, “Mumbai is still the base for the television industry and unlike the film industry it cannot stick to a schedule and work for only a limited period of time. Having proper infrastructure, getting manpower and solving last minute issues are the major challenges we face. Shooting around 30-40 episodes outside Mumbai is fine but to sustain it throughout 300 episodes becomes difficult for us. Furthermore actors and directors are always on the move to different locations can add to the problem of delivery of schedules”.
“Shooting outside the studio minus the infrastructure is challenging and most of the time you will not find sets ready outside the city. Sometimes getting good actors to travel with you is another challenge we face but there is no doubt about the fact that the flavor of a studio shoot cannot be compared to a set located at the right destination. It adds more color and value to the show”, opined Keni.
Alva believes that there is saturation of infrastructure and intense unionization in Mumbai. “This has made it a bottleneck for producers looking to expand. This is where companies like Miditech, who have their headquarters in Delhi, play a role,” he pointed out.
Waddhwa stated that producing a daily soap is a taxing job, with a 365 day work pattern. “The day to day delivery of episodes and managing the vast number of technicians, artists and other human resources on a regular basis is challenging. Another important aspect is to keep the audience interested. A new market throws the challenge of setting up the show in an unknown territory and dealing with people of different thought process. Mumbai is a film/television friendly city unlike any other new markets”, he said.
Of the top shooting locations like the states / cities of Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Rajasthan, M.P, Punjab, it is observed that Delhi is the next big hub for TV shoots, since the city is equipped with good manpower and infrastructure.
Sharing his views on this Tewari said, “The main reason for hunting for new locations is that it is tough to get locations and sets in Mumbai. There are shows which are based out of Mumbai which provide a visual feel. Delhi is an established industry where there is availability of equipment, infrastructure and manpower to work with. Delhi is becoming the next big hub for the television industry. There are shows which have been shot in Delhi and have been successful so I would say that Delhi has the full potential to be an alternative hub for television.”
Signing along the tune, Keni believes that Delhi is a city which has its own flavor and charm. “A lot of television shows and films have been shot in the metro. I would just say that it’s a passing phase as far as Delhi is concerned, since soon producers will move on to other locations like Indore or any city in Rajasthan and that shall remain a fact. But all said and done, people who are doing daily soaps will ultimately come back to Mumbai as viewing the bigger picture will infer that there are established sets in Mumbai”, he added.
Miditech’s Alva has a lot of his shows being shot the capital city said that Delhi has a lot to offer. “There are various types of audience. Unlike Mumbai, there is no union in Delhi and permissions are easier to get. Yes, coming on power with Mumbai is a long term game but that is not the intention, we just want to create new zones where television productions can take place. We cannot just stick to one zone, there has to be variety in what we are giving to our viewers. It helps to give the show a head start. So we moved from the big scale production in Mumbai to the NCR region. It is a kind of an experiment but I must say I am very happy with the results so far”, said a confident Alva.
In Waddhwa’s view Delhi needs proper infrastructure and human resources which is currently lacking from the daily soap perspective. He believes it can be the next destination, but only if developed from the point of view of television.
While TV show makers are exploring new locations and greener pastures for their shoots to add flavor to their story, we as viewers can enjoy the visual treat offered to us on our favorite shows. As expressed by our industry experts the trend to move to new locations other than Mumbai has begun and only time will tell how successful this decision will prove for them.