Soap operas are the order of the day. Whatever be the storyline, viewers are glued to their television sets, particularly, on primetime. And there's a great deal of hardwork that goes behind wooing the audience in that half-hour and so, each serial competes with the other to top the charts. Here's where creative heads pitch in with their contribution. Though they work behind the camera, they play a major role in the content, characterisation, scenes and screenplays in serials. They coordinate and work with the whole team- senior and associate producers, dialogue writers and directors. And if the creative heads are women in the women-centric serials, then there’s lot more scope for drama. Expresso spoke to a few women creative heads.
“We have everyday discussions where we talk about the detailing that goes into the making of the serial,” says Raadhika Sarathkumar, head of creatives, Radaan Mediaworks (I) Limited. Recently, 'Arase' on Sun TV got a new vamp Thilakavathy (Malavika), Raadhika says, “I felt there were a lot of male characters and so I introduced a woman in it.”
As a producer, head of creatives and the protagonist, Raadhika multitasks. And apart from 'Arase', Raadhika is the also creative head of 'Senthoora Poove' and a serial each in Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
Right from hearing stories to the characterization and scene break-up, Raadhika is in charge of everything. Under her is the creative team and she gets work done. “Each role is different in 'Arase' and I give 100 percent to every minute,” says the creative head, whose character 'Arase' seems to be favourite among the serial buffs. “I travel a lot and people like my cop role better and think me as a big officer in real life,” giggles Raadhika. People even ask her advice for their problems!
“Women go through a lot of pain and emotion. It doesn’t mean men don’t have emotions. But compared to men, women have a lot and as the number of women audiences who watch serials are more, and the serials are women-oriented, a woman creative head can understand things better. Compared to Chennai, Mumbai has more number of women creative heads,” opines Kutty Padmini, creative head of 'Kalasam' serial on Sun TV.
Kutty Padmini worked as a creative head in 'Sangarsh', a Hindi serial. That was the first time that she won herself the designation of a creative head.
“If a producer is also a creative head, then there’s lot of understanding in terms of budget. You know what require for a scene. When a TRP goes up, there will be a creative meeting, congratulating the team. At the same time, if it goes down, the reasons will be analysed,” says Padmini.
“In 'Krishnadasi', Nalini’s character was not supposed to be the main one, but seeing the responses from the audience, we made the character the lead. When I went to Kodaikanal recently, viewers told me they couldn’t wait for Monday to come during weekends as 'Kalasam' had become such a part of their lives. Such is the response from viewers,” adds the creative head.
She says, eliminating or adding characters happen based on the response generated for a soap. “I sit with the screenplay writer and give my inputs. We finally take it to the director and he gives suggestion and alters it accordingly. As far as Kalasam goes, I also discuss with it with the protagonist Ramya Krishnan and we work out things better. I am passionate with my work,” says Padmini.
Producer and creative head of Home Media, Sujatha Vijaykumar was the one to introduce Khushboo to the small screen with 'Marumagal', Kousalya with 'Manaivi', Meena with 'Lakshmi' and now Shamitha in 'Sivashakthi' on Sun TV.
“I love participating in the story discussion. As a creative head, I decide the characters to be played by artistes. I introduced Lakshmi Gopalaswamy’s character in 'Lakshmi'. The character with negative shades was a hit among viewers,” says Sujatha, who has acted in Telugu and Tamil movies.
“We try to change the story line if the TRP is not well and introduce new characters to spice it up. I have introduced a character Kanchana in 'Sivashakthi'. The character has a phobia and it’s something new to the small screen,” says the creative head.
It’s like a one-man army and she manages everything as a creative head. “My focus is on middle-class families and heroine-oriented subjects,” says Sujatha, who has penned story for Lakshmi.
she is the brain behind the mini mega concept - 'Simran Thirai'. Subhaa Venkat is the creative head of Pyramid Saimira Television Group and is currently working on projects 'Simran Thirai', 'Super Sundari', 'Rekha IPS' and a music show for Zee Tamizh.
“Almost 90 percent of creative heads are producers. It’s not necessary that a creative head should be a producer. If a person is creative and also the producer then it’s a plus point,” says Subhaa Venkat.
“I am into creative activities from Day one of my career. My travel is slow and steady,” says the creative head, who has worked with K Balachander, Khusboo and Raadhika for their production companies. “I’m in charge of creative control, total budget and creative content of the project. The director has to go hand in hand with the creative head,” says Subhaa.
According to Sunhaa, there’s need of creative head in the serial scenario, who can take final decisions. “Sometimes, the involvement of artistes may be less for a particular serial. We sit and discuss what’s wrong and take a concurrent decision. Bossy attitudes don’t help here. As a creative head, you unite every member of the team. One should be able to take everybody’s suggestion, discuss what can be best for a project,” she explains. Subhaa says television involves a lot of work and heroine-based work.
Talking about 'Simran Thirai', Subhaa says, “Compared with megaserials, the mini-mega needs much of hard work and budget. Each month, we have to work for new stories. I have a very good young team to support,” says the creative head, who plans for a couple of other projects.