“I love to take up challenges and shift myself into different genres to keep myself agile”: Raghuvir Shekhawat

“I love to take up challenges and shift myself into different genres to keep myself agile”: Raghuvir Shekhawat

I've seen the change from highly sensible to dramatic shows where subtle dramas work less.

Raghuvir Shekhawat

Mumbai: Renowned for his versatile storytelling prowess, Raghuvir Shekhawat with a career spanning over three decades, has etched his name in the entertainment industry across genres, from comedy to religious and fiction. Making his debut with "All the Best" on DD Metro in 1996-97, he has since crafted compelling narratives for hit shows such as "Karishma Kaa Karishma," "Balika Vadhu," "Diya Aur Baati Hum," and "Bhabiji Ghar Par Hai!" among others.

With an impressive repertoire, Raghuvir, alongside Ravindra Gautam, co-founded the production house Do Dooni 4 Films. As the script head and producer, he continues to weave captivating tales, currently enchanting audiences with "Dahej Daasi" on Nazara TV and "Shravani" on Shemaroo Umang.

Indiantelevision.com in conversation with writer and producer Raghuvir Shekhawat delved deeper to know more about his creative journey so far, creation of Do Dooni 4 Films, changes or trends in today's television landscape, and much more…

Edited Excerpts:

On his creative journey so far

My journey started long back with All the Best in 1996-97 on DD Metro. It has Satish Shah, Swaroop Sampat, Laxmikant Berde and from there to the current shows Dahej Daasi and Shravani it has been a fascinating journey and especially the transition of a writer to writer-producer. It has been fascinating, it has opened new facets for me. It has given me a new vision new energy, passion, and new motivation to start telling the stories that are close to my heart or tell the stories in my way that I couldn't due to some restrictions or compulsions.

On the partnership with Ravindra Gautam leading to the creation of Do Dooni 4 Films, and inspiration behind the name

I have known Ravindra Gautam for a long time we did a show together named Armanon Ka Balidaan- Aarakshan, and then there were many shows which I wrote and Ravindraji directed. The last show I wrote and he was the producer-director was Meri Durga. For a long time, I had the thought of becoming a producer since I have been in the industry for 25-27 years now. But I wasn't getting anyone who was like me, someone who was loyal and passionate about work just like I am, and good at heart. Working with Ravindra Gautam I realised we had so many similarities in terms of thoughts, habits, and personality and the most important thing was passion and dedication. We decided to work together and when we started working and started our production we did two shows that are on air and there are many projects in the pipeline.

The thought behind the name was we had the power of writer and director and now producer that came to name Do Dooni 4 films. Also, we didn't want to have something serious we wanted the name and work to have fun. The name as it says Do Dooni 4 films has a touch of fun and naughtiness.

On navigating different storytelling landscapes as you've written across diverse genres and a favorite genre to work on

I have been lucky that I got to work on different genres. If I hadn't worked in different genres, I may not even have worked for so many years and even people would have gotten bored of me and even I would have gotten tired if I had written only daily soaps. But the good part was I took a break I did comedy, then daily soap, thrillers, inspirational, horrors, and mythological so I kept challenging and discovering myself and so I think I sustained in the industry for so long. And because I kept writing different genres I didn't lose my passion and I felt victory every time I challenged myself. This feeling kept my passion going, every time you challenge yourself you set new boundaries and reach that boundaries, and the journey to those boundaries kept on reviving with every new genre that I started working on.

To answer my favorite genre would be like asking a father which one of his sons was his favorite but having said that I have written comedies a lot like Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hai!, Happu Ki Ultan Paltan, May I Come in Madam?, Jijaji Chhat Par Hain, Family no.1, Gudgudi and I did a lot of comedy shows and films, so comedy is something that I enjoy the most maybe because its most challenging to write comedy and it keeps challenging and inspiring me, and in today's time, there are so many reasons to cry that it would be great that you become a reason for someone's smile and laughter. So comedy became my favorite genre otherwise I enjoy writing everything.

On changes or trends that you find most intriguing or challenging in today's television landscape and on staying creatively agile in a dynamic media landscape

My career has paned over three decades so I have seen the industry changing daily soaps from five-day dramas to seven-day dramas and I have seen everything has got its challenge. Content has always been the king but there are so many factors that add up today, earlier content was solely important irrespective of look and other things. TV was into limited houses only back then TV sets were owned by well-to-do homes and so the audiences were a bit sensible but today TV sets are owned by everyone even in remote areas, in fact, TV is watched less in metro cities. I have seen the change from highly sensible shows to dramatic shows where people's subtle dramas work less. Sony TV is one place where subtle drama works otherwise other networks have different levels of over-the-top dramas. This is the biggest change that I have seen in that content has changed from metro cities to BNC centers. We talk about stories that are about traditions, and cultures on different levels. Earlier four episodes were to be written in a week and it did take time but today you have to write day in and day out and five days a week.

The competition is so intense as people quickly change channels as soon as your episode turns boring that you have to write episodes that are engaging, dramatic, and interesting and so to write such episodes seven days a week is a big challenge in itself. I love to take up challenges and shift myself into different genres to keep myself agile. I love to observe people and surroundings. I would say myself an illiterate writer because I haven't learned literature in my life and for me to keep myself going I only had people to read and that helped me and I tried telling my stories and reaching my audiences.

On whether there's a potential shift in audience preferences towards shorter format TV shows and its influence on the future of storytelling in Indian television, providing a refreshing change from the extended and sometimes monotonous nature of most Indian TV shows

I don't agree that a shorter format has worked or had worked. When we approach a channel they ask us for a six-month story at least, when we tell them the story that interests them they decide on its merit. As much as it should be viable with the story it should be financially viable too for them. When OTT came to India with six or eight episodes I knew back then that it’s not a longer journey for OTT and people would return to TV and it happened. People started watching TV, I know people call it monotonous and dragging, but kudos to the team that worked on shows for five years and more and kept the audience's interest intact. Yes, some shows are watched because of habits but some shows maintain quality, but if you become boring and monotonous then the channel will shut you down.

On any show (you've worked on) that holds a special place in your heart due to its impact or reception

I wouldn't name one but a few like Balika Vadhu which was based on tradition, it satisfied me creatively and socially, and because of this show a lot of people in Rajasthan stopped marrying their underage kids. I believe that even if 10 people changed their minds then it's a bigger achievement in itself.  The next would be Veera, a show that beautifully portrayed a brother and sister's relationship, the bond that I understood so well, and that beauty I wrote in the show. Veera was not a plot-driven or a drama-driven show it was purely an emotions and relation-based show. Bhootu was a show where I tried to win the audiences with a child's innocence and we were successful too at a certain point.

On your future plans and aspirations for Do Dooni 4 Films, and are there specific genres or themes you are eager to explore in upcoming projects

We want to bring out more shows this year; we want to grow big in TV, and once done we would want to grow into films and OTT. We would want to make content-driven films that entertain the audience and force the audiences to leave the theatres with a question in mind too.