Nilanjana Purkayastha has been producing serials with varied storylines. She has been involved in scripting too. A storyteller who thinks out of the box, Nilanjana’s serials include Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka (which he scripted) and Kulfi Kumar Bajewala and Chiku ki mummy door se. Her latest serial Dhadkan (produced along with Herumb Khot) is being telecast on Sony and is also available on Sony Liv. A medical serial, Dhadkan is a finite series and has been raising the issues and questions regarding women in the medical profession. Well made with good production values, Dhadkan has a good cast who are sincere and earnest in their efforts. Nilanjana answers questions on email on account of her busy and hectic schedule
You have scripted historicals like Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka and other shows. Was getting into production a natural process?
I started producing before getting into writing professionally. Chandragupta Maurya was my first show as a writer/producer. Ashoka came later. I am a storyteller at heart, and production and writing are inseparable parts of the process for me.
Your shows like Chiku ki Mummy Door Se and Kulfi Kumar Bajewala are different from the regular soaps and serials. Now you are doing Dhadkan, a medical serial. Was this a conscious decision to do so and produce realistic content?
Yes, it is a conscious decision to make shows that are not regular. I like to tell stories that challenge me as a creator.
What prompted you to do Dhadkan? It reminded me of Lifeline which came in the late 80s?
I have always had a keen interest in medicine and I am fascinated by the lives of doctors. Especially of women doctors, since it is such a demanding job.
We did a lot of research on the lives of doctors by talking to them about their work, their challenges and the functioning of hospitals and ERs.
How did you identify/select the medical issues highlighted in the serial?
We first thought of the personal stories of the patients and then discussed with the consulting doctor on what the medical issue could be. We also have a data bank of medical issues provided to us by the doctor who advises us.
The serial is realistic. How did you script it?
The writing has been drawn from our own personal experiences and our observations on society, which is why it is realistic.
Was there a doctor in the scripting team or is the script vetted by a doctor?
Yes, we have a doctor who has guided us on every stage of writing and she also vets the final episode.
Do you have a doctor on the sets?
Yes, we have a doctor on sets when we shoot surgeries and procedures.
Dhadkan is a slice of infotainment/edutainment. Did you conceptualise it that way?
It wasn’t conceptualised as infotainment/edutainment … it was conceptualised as drama that is closely based on reality of doctors and hospitals. I guess that is provides information comes organically from the way it is written.
How was the cast chosen?
We held extensive auditions and did test shoots before finalising the cast.
How was the plush hospital set with state-of-the-art medical equipment visualised and constructed?
The design was based on real-life hospitals and we made it with an eye for detail and authenticity.
How challenging is it to shoot this serial?
It is very challenging because no one has ever done this kind of authentic and realistic work on tv before. It has been a steep learning curve for all of us involved in the making of it.
What’s the response to Dhadkan?
The response has been very gratifying because I see online debates about the characters as if the audience is talking about real people. Lots of people have also told us how much the show has inspired them and seeing how invested people are in the storylines which makes us feel very happy.
Will there be a season 2 soon?
We are concluding all the personal story arcs in this season. The number of episodes have been extended from the originally planned 65 episodes, so thought it won’t be Season 2, we will have more episodes without taking a season break.
How do you perceive the content on TV these days?
I don’t see any real paradigm shift in TV content in the last 2 decades or more. There are small changes in some shows, but overall the content continues to be family sagas.
Have you thought about your next project?
Our next project is already in writing and pre-production phase. I can’t talk more about it right now, but hopefully soon!