Popular television chat show Guftagoo, where diverse creative personalities were interviewed by Syed Mohd Irfan, has found a new platform. The programme, now spelled Guftugu, is broadcasted every Sunday at 10:00pm on the Youtube channel of Rekhta Foundation.
In the second episode, the first one being an interview with Film Director Imtiaz Ali showcased on February 21, the audience will draw from actor Jaideep Ahlawat, on how he bagged the Netflix web series, Paatal Lok, which made him an overnight sensation.
The 1:12 second teaser shows a dapper-looking Ahlawat in white overalls, talking about very rarely playing a vulnerable character, as almost always dominating characters are offered to him. But this wish was fulfilled in Paatal Lok, as he essayed the role of policeman Hathi Ram Choudhary in the popular series.
Talking about vulnerability, hopes, dreams and desires is most often not easily seen in a Bollywood character but it comes easy for host Irfan, in the show that is over a decade old, having aired more than 400 episodes on TV. In the past, he has brought out the hidden personas of many celebrated names such as Tom Alter, Ramesh Sippy, Usha Uthup, Gulzar, among others.
“When the programme was conceived on Rajya Sabha TV, one of the ideas was to include a culture and entertainment segment. If people are considered an important part of a democracy, art and culture should be an integral part of a life as art shapes consciousness,” said Irfan in a conversation with The Sunday Standard. In his second innings with Rekhta, he continues to channel the series’ original ethos.
“Through this show, we try to understand dreams, goals, fears, and struggles of achievers and future achievers and the factors that moulded their life and career.
We attempt to show them in a light that top channels often miss, as they end up commodifying the person; first they give the personality a certain image and through the created persona try to sell a product.
Take for instance, the curious case of beauty pageant winners found in beauty product commercials. No one clearly knows their actual journey.” Irfan further elucidates his thoughts by talking about photography.
“A photograph while showing one scene hides another view. The point is to show the actual picture in the show.” For Irfan, this second innings was unplanned.
It started with his Facebook post where he talked about losing his job (at Rajya Sabha TV) in the peak of Covid-19 along with over 30 colleagues. “I was called by Rekhta founders but many of my other colleagues are yet to find something.”
But now in his new office, the well-admired host, 52, walks with a spring in his step and is closely involved in the production process with a bunch of enthusiastic colleagues. Mirza Ghalib’s installation by Wajid Khan, watches this play of life from a far end in the office.
Not all the episodes are shot in the office studio. “Most of the time, it is in a comfortable space so that the guest is relaxed and we get a new decor,” informs Irfan, who suggests upcoming interviewers to exercise caution, while delving into the life of a personality.
“One has to be patient and take interest in diverse subjects. As an interviewer, you are communicating to the masses, hence disseminating the right information is imperative. After all, you are responsible for others as well.” The forthcoming personalities are Shweta Tripathi (actor), Ali Fazal (actor), Sneha Khanwalkar (music composer), and Ustaad Shujaat Husain Khan (musician). “We will interview poets, actors, musicians, visual artists, writers, ornithologists, sportspersons, and academicians among others.
The average length of an episode is 40 min but it will vary depending upon the comfort and answers from a personality.” Irfan is also a music connoisseur, his other passion, apart from being an interviewer. “I used to collect classical phonograph records, but now as we don’t find a turntable easily, I have donated most of those records to archives and my friends,” says Irfan. He had also made a documentary titled Gumnaam Hai Koi (2014), featuring journeys of the veteran music arrangers in Bollywood.
Responding to the question about how these interviews have impacted his life, the host admits that unlike before, as per the atmosphere in the society, he does not think in black-and-white anymore about anyone. “The interviews have made me more soft and receptive. After listening to many stories you understand that no story is the ultimate story.
Kamyabi ka koi ek raasta nahi hai (there is no one way to achieve success) and what is success anyway, you tend to question this as well. The so-called successful people are themselves surrounded by many dilemmas. I have learnt to admire the plurality in this multi-coloured society,” he signs off.