DHEERAJ KUMAR MAKES IT BIG ON THE SMALL SCREEN

By Deepak Puri

Television has opened the floodgates of success for many persons earlier involved in films, and one such is Dheeraj Kumar of Creative Eye, which is one of the major TV software production companies in the country.

Way back in l983, Dheeraj saw the immense potential of TV and established Creative Eye, which claims to be the pioneer in India of full-length feature films in video format. Creative made 'Aadhi Raat Ke Baad' and 'Aakhri Chaal', which were released on the video circuit in l985 in India and abroad. The same year, Dheeraj produced a 26-episode serial titled 'Kahan Gaye Woh Log' for Doordarshan. This serial, which revolved around the lives of the unsung freedom fighters of India, won the President's Medal and many other awards. It was a flying start for Creative.

Encouraged by the awards, Dheeraj, the hero of 'Raaton Ka Raja' and a few Punjabi films (none of which did too well), decided to give films the backseat and concentrate on making serials. The result is that in about l7 years' time he has produced close to 30 serials in as many as four languages (Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and, hold your breath, Sanskrit). If his serial 'Kahan Gaye Who Log' won as many as six awards, 'Adalat' featured in the Top Ten National Programs, with a viewership of 55 per cent in addition to bagging the Cinegoers' Award and the Uptron Award.

Dheeraj is especially happy with the success of his serial 'Om Namah Shivaye', as he is a devotee of Lord Shiva. His office has garlanded pictures of Shiva.and he has named his new office complex 'Kailash Plaza'. The serial, Kumar tells us, was No. 1 in the popularity ratings. To substantiate his claim, he quotes Indian Market Research Bureau, an organisation which keeps a track of popularity ratings. Another distinguishing mark of the serial was that audio cassettes of the songs as well as dialogues of the serial have been made, the way it was done in the case of blockbuster 'Sholay'. Remember hearing the dialogues of 'Sholay' almost around any corner in the wake of the massive success of 'Sholay'.But there is a difference.The dialogues of 'Sholay' may have been fun, but the dialogues in 'Om Namah Shivaye' are delivered by Gods and Godesses and impart in-depth knowledge i.e. goodh gyan which can be so useful for the people at large. Example? In a scene between Brahm Dev and Lord Shiva, one of the Gods stresses the philosophy of karma and says samay se pehle aur bhagya se ziada kisi ko kuchh nahin milta, aur pursharth ke saath saath bhagya bhi saath dena chahiye. Every episode of the serial, Kumar says, 'contains certain portions which highlight the cultural heritage of India'.

Another highlight of the serial is that almost every singer of Bollywood, Lata Mangeshkar included, has sung for the serial. Pandit Jasraj, the renowned classical singer, has sung its title song. And, Jasraj's son, Sharang Dev has provided music for the lyrics written by Abhilaash. Two other notable achievements of Kumar's Creative Eye are that it showed many a blockbuster like 'Parinda', 'Insaaf', 'Mahasangram' and many others, and also presented weekly programme 'Rangoli' (shown every Sunday morning) in a new and more interesting format.

Dheeraj Kumar says that 'today we have offices in Ahmedabad and Bangalore in addition, of course, toBombay (where most of the production work is done) and Delhi where we are on the panel of DAVP.'

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