Mushtaque B Barq
Moments make memories and memories are prized slices of life to rely on. We recall or recoil at the folds of the reminiscences and live for a while taking safe havens into consideration. Some bitter moments with the passage of time grow and produce melodic instances and revitalize our present. When these moments are brought out under the germane sky, things change their form and format. Looking at an old mirror with a renewed look generates an enhanced picture of our façade. For a while, we smile and pass, but the texture of our giggle glorifies our past like a breeze amidst the scorching wrath of the sun. Turning the foils of the yore to extract the ore of bygone days is never easy. It is either a specification of our professional life or a revisit on a holiday at the attic of our house. Whatever be the reason one cannot disconnect his connection with his past. Our past is our treasure and we only know the value of it. It is like rewinding a reel recorded in the past to be brought before the digital audience. The reactions and responses will certainly amaze or mesmerise a few and yet it can be an open debate about the limitations of technology for the rest. Whatever be the cause, the important aspect of rewinding is to measure the growth both at individual and technology levels. Today we are unfolding a page of Rajesh Kaul, a senior management executive and an experienced Electronic Broadcaster and Channel Manager and administrator. He is an Ex-Director and Head of Dept. Media Centre Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts. New Delhi.
Born at Rainawari Srinagar, a student of DAV Higher Secondary School Rainawari and Amar Singh Degree College Srinagar. A Science graduate from Kashmir University and Post-graduation in English literature from Punjab University. From his school days, he started cultural activities under the mentorship of Prof. R L Shant he participated in theatre activities at the college level. Rajesh Kaul qualified drama auditions of Television Srinagar in 1972 and under the direction of ate Zafar Ahmad, Late Chaman Lal Kackoo and Farooq Nazki performed in many plays. In 1976, he was trained at Film and Television Institute of India Pune and as Producer at INSAT Programming in 1982. His expertise opened opportunities for him as an expert to serve FTII Pune as a guest faculty till 2018. He is a visiting faculty of Ape jay Institute of Mass Communication, Punjabi University Patiala – Post Graduate Dept. of Theatre and Television, Asian Academy of Film and Television Noida (UP), India. (Occasional) and Module Leader for Uclan University of Lancashire. He is also a Consultant Trainings ‘National Academy of Broadcasting and Multi Media’ and Course coordinator to Prasar Bharti, Broadcasting Corporation of India.
His areas of expertise are: Production of electronic broadcast content, Media channel management and outside broadcast and live telecast, Budgeting and financial controlling, marketing and advisory consulting. He produced and directed weekly serials, entertainment and infotainment programs, long plays, tele-films and documentaries for National and Regional broadcasts. He has supervised 50 live telecasts of international and national events including Prime Minister’s Bus Yatra to Lahore via Wagah and 75th Anniversary of Jalianwala Bagh Massacre. He also managed and supervised live election telecasts covering analysis, fore-casts, exit poll discussions and sports coverage in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. He is credited for Telecast of celebrations in connection with Tercentenary of Khalsa Pant (Live from Anandpur Sahib).
Rajesh Kaul has acted in Zaal written by Amin Shakir and Kuner written by Zahid Mukhtar bothdirected by Shabir Mujahid. His later produced Khawboon Ke Dariche (Adaptation of Charles Lamb’s famous Essay DREAM CHILDREN) ’Apne Ajnabi, (Urdu serial written by Late Afaq Ahmad),Ujale Ki Dehleez ( Urdu serial written by Late H K Bharti) ,Parwaz Se Pehle (Urdu serial written by Late H K Bharti) Aiena ( Urdu serial written by Prof. Nighat Hafeez) , Kab Tak (Urdu serial written by Nazir Jahangir) Aks Aks ( Dramatization of short stories by renowned writers of J&K like Akhtar Mohi-ud- din, Amin Kamil, H K Bharti, Bansi Nirdosh , Hari Kishan Kaul, Dr. R L Shant, Mohammad Amin Shakir and Late Shad Hussain, Darichae ( A dramatized series based on the Epigrams of Mahatma Gandhi), Yi Zahar Kus Chayi (based on Padmshri Som Nath Sadhu’s Radio Play GASH YINAS TAM – Telefilm written by H K Bharti). For National Telecast Rajesh Kaul has produced Aapna Aapna Daira, Aapni Talash, Chakravuk, Isey Kya Kahiye and Nirnay Mein Zindgi Hein. He has also in his credit Athak Jeevan Anvarat Sangharsh ((life and works of Famous Urdu/Hindi writer Opinder Nath Ashok) , Bhulaye Na Bane (life and works of legendary poet Gopal Das Neeraj and Abha Surbit Sahity Ki (life and works of Dr. Vishnu Kant Shastri the then Governor Himachal Pradesh.
Rajesh Kaul has following publications under his name: Around 30 short stories in various magazines in Hindi Including ‘Samkaleen Bharti’ – A Sahitya Academy publication, Short story collection in Kashmiri language under print titled Murtchgor- The Sculptor, The Adaptation of short story titled ‘Shrad’ and ‘Murtchgor’ staged by Theatre Repertory of Sriram Centre New Delhi and ICCR New Delhi through Kalidas Theatre Srinagar.
Ashok Jialkhani, ADG Prasar Bharti Broadcasting adds, “Rajesh Kaul has had a long association with me. In fact, he started his career in Doordarshan Srinagar by assisting me in a number of play productions. Very diligent and quick learner he soon graduated to do independent productions and produced some very good plays and other programmes. Later he worked with me at Doordarshan Jalandhar and Doordarshan headquarters. Apart from being an excellent programmer, he was equally good at management and administration. Once any responsibility was assigned to him one could be sure of its perfect delivery. A creative and innovative mind, and above all a perfect gentleman.”
Nazir Jehangir, a reputed writer writes: That was the golden age of Doordarshan Kendra, Srinagar when Rajesh Koul worked in this department. Bashir Budgami, Farooq Nazki, Jai Kishen Zutshi, Shabir Mujahid, Zahid Manzoor, Zeeshan Fazil, Ashraf Sahil, Mir Mushtaq, Khurshid Masodi, the people of such very great size deemed as heavyweights of film art were there. But Rajesh Kaul has no parallel. He is an ace director, versatile actor, accomplished writer and above all a good humane. He is a competent man with a good command of Kashmiri, English, Urdu and Hindi. He managed to do my serial Kab Tak and a film Dilawar which had long exterior scenes for outdoor shooting and he amazingly did it with little resources available. He has the art to do things wonderfully as he has his unique style of doing things. Rajesh Koul and the people as I mentioned in the prior lines propelled Srinagar Doordarshan Kendra to great heights with their dedication and skills. Rajesh is a born artist.
Mushtaq Bala, a filmmaker informs, “Apart from being a very good Director, Rajesh Kaul has a big contribution in showcasing Kashmir art, culture & films at the national level. When he was at the helm of affairs in Indira Gandhi National center for arts, he managed a 10-day Kashmir festival wherein Kashmir art and culture was promoted and various films by Kashmiri Directors were showcased. The festival was inaugurated by the then Honorable Governor of J and K Sh. N N Vohra. Rajesh Kaul is also responsible to get 9-hour research material on Kashmiri Sofiana Music produced for the archives of IGNCA New Delhi.
The festival covered all three regions of the state. Renowned Film Makers and Theatre directors were invited to participate in the festival apart from folk dancers from all the three regions. Acknowledged Singers and musicians like pt. Bhajan Sopori, Ab Rashid Hafiz, Pt. Rajinder Kachroo performed. Apart from heritage exhibition handicraft stalls and food courts from the valley were the main attractions. The famous Mughal garden Shalimar was the backdrop of the festival which was represented by a 3 D replica structure of the garden right from the entry gate.”
Shafqut Habib (FTII Graduate) Film producer Educational Multimedia Research Centre adds, “To me, Rajesh Koul is a person who has not been in the field of filmmaking just by chance but out of his sheer conviction. This is amply proven by the fact that long after his successful innings in Doordarshan as producer/director he is still actively and passionately involved with the academics of filmmaking. He is never shy of discussing ideas and listening to the ideas about filmmaking which are the essential qualities of a good filmmaker. He has the ability and courage to identify the talent associated with the field of filmmaking and not allow it to go unnoticed. This speaks volumes about the personality of Rajesh Kaul not just as a filmmaker but as a gentle human being who is very much caring about the people whom he meets and discovers in his journey of the field that he cherishes to be associated with.”
Share with us something you best remember in your life as Producer
What you say is important but how you say is more important and that makes it different. I prefer to go out of routine sometimes. Generally, a panel discussion or an interview would be mounted for an anniversary of a festival programme allotted to a producer in rotation. On 27th March every year, a discussion would be mounted on the special occasion of world theatre day. When in1987 it was allotted to me, I along with my associate Bashir Qadri got a script written by theatre legend M. L. Saraf and produced a docu-drama of 45 minutes duration, where we recreated the scenes from the Temple theatre era to the modern theatre, depicting the evolution of theatre in the Valley from ancient times and people, did appreciate the effort. Similarly Often, I felt like doing something different. That may perhaps be the reason why I chose Charles Lamb’s poignant Essay ‘DREAM CHILDREN’ (an exquisite reverie) for my first film production titled Khawboon Ke Dariche and it did produce a lyrical cry in the audience. One thing I was clear that even while doing propaganda or a promotional programme, the treatment should be such that it does not appear direct propaganda. For instance Telefilm, GASH YINAS TAM produced in 1986, was the portrayal of a situation prevalent in the valley at that time when curfew had become a weekly fixture. The film projected the problems faced by the people through the night long journey of two urchins who had lost their day’s wages due to curfew imposition. Selection of subject/theme has been of prime importance to me. The treatment was decided while developing the script. I and Nazir Jehangir developed the screenplay after three drafts for the serial Kab Tak. In the same way through discussions with other writers like H K Bharti and Dr Shant, Ms. Nighat etc. would yield the desired effect. Much thought was given to the theme and story development to avoid repetition and ensure freshness. All the serials and telefilms produced were on different themes, treatment and approach to production. I am of the firm belief that 50% success of a product is its casting and there was no compromise on this. We would hold an introductory session with the entire cast before the launch of production. Subject, backdrop, class status, character scheme would be thoroughly discussed. In today’s parlance, we call it a workshop. Individual discussion with each actor would be held to help him/her transform into a character.
How has your family supported you?
My family has always been supportive. Frankly speaking, my ten years tenure at DDK Jalandhar has been extremely hectic and busy. Mostly I would be touring either on shoots or on live broadcast or VIP shoots. My wife has efficiently shouldered the responsibility of educating both sons, managing her job and maintaining household affairs. You cannot actually go ahead in life without the support of your loved ones. I am lucky to have a galaxy of people around who not only supported me but have a role in my growth. I have seen people struggling due to a lack of family support. This chasm has ruined many talented artists I appeal to the parents of this era to understand the needs and the aspirations of their children by supporting them in achieving their goals. Good parenting can restore deformities.
How difficult it was to use conventional methods to shoot indoors and outdoors?
When Television started in Srinagar it was in a primitive stage by way of equipment and resources. A three-camera setup in the main studio and two in the News studio without any outdoor shooting facility. But it was blessed with a band of creative producers. A programme irrespective of its format had to be recorded in one go from its title to the closing. Any mistake even in the middle of a power supply breakdown would mean going from the ab initio. No editing or post-production work was available. So, it was the programmer who had to limit his imagination or support it with innovation. I remember when we were to record late Shamas-u-din’s play BEGUR BANE in which Ashok Jailkhani was playing the main character of a toy seller on a footpath market. In the absence of outdoor shooting, we created a small street market in the News studio and the major sets in the main studio. There were few flashbacks in the play with the point of view of the protagonist. So, while shifting from the present state to the past, I had to physically run to the market set in another studio and appear there with get up changes. The costume and make-up change had to be managed by the makeup artist and the property assistant in a brief span of 2 to 3 minutes till an interim scene with other characters would take place in the continuity of the script without stopping. Nowadays shooting is possible anywhere and under any situation with Jimmy jib, Crane, Balloon and folding tracks and portable high-resolution cameras non- non-linear editing and VFX. When outdoor facilities came to TV Srinagar, other scarcity of allied facilities like transport, editing chunks, special effects etc. cropped up. I remember I wanted to finish the episode with a freeze shot and the facility was not available. So we managed to shoot the last scene of the episode on film so that we could splice the last single frame and mount it on a separate telecine projector to use at the time of final recording. This would limit our imagination. Now the case is different. Technology has changed drastically. Everything is available at the punch of a button to make it an easy accomplishment. Now nothing limits your imagination.
What is the future of Production in Kashmir?
The writing on the wall rather than wait for Godot we should move on. If production houses are waiting for government schemes that may take time. Commissioning of software in Punjab stopped in 1994 and North East in 2003-04. Our producers should think of exploring the domestic market by creating short films, comedies and musical shows for domestic viewing and market the same also look for sponsors. Another way is to produce films for international markets/ festivals like Danish Renzu, Snayna Kachroo and a few more, who are making us proud abroad. Festival entry gives recognition and the sale of films in the international market gets money back. OTT is a new opening.