Benaifer Kohli (Edit 11), producer of FIR and Bhabhiji Ghar Pe, is very excited about her new SAB TV show, Jijaji Chhat Par Hain.
“It has come out superb. Every comedy needs a minimum amount of laughs, but this is a laugh riot. Hiba Nawab is outstanding and natural as Elaichi (character name). I am sure she will become as famous as Angoori Bhabhi (Shubhangi Atre). Even the new male lead, Nikhil Khurana, is good. This is my favorite show, after Bhabhiji.”
Given her great record in making hit light-genre shows, what makes a comedy show tick?
“It is a team effort. Once, veteran comedian Satish Shah had said that if the written material is not good enough, how much can the actor add? I have been very lucky to get the above combo right in Bhabhiji. If the writer (Manoj Santoshi) has delivered a 100/100 script, our director (Manoj Santoshi), and actors (Aasif Sheikh, Rohitashv Gaud, etc.) have made it 1000%. My husband and co-producer, Sanjay is a very hands-on maker, personally sitting in on every episode script and edit. I am sure the same vein will continue in Jijaji Chhat Par Hai, as well.”
Coming to Bhabhiji, she says, “Sanjay is very passionate about the show, and lives it. And the best part is that all the characters, including Happu Singh (YogeshTripathi), are leads. It is not just the story of 2 couples (Anita-Vibhuti and Angoori-Manmohan Tiwari). The same thing applies to my new show. I am in love with most of the characters; some are so cute.”
Here, she does accept that the basic, thin, naughty line of Jijaji Chhat Par Hai, as the title suggests, is similar to Bhabhiji, but the characters and plot lines are completely different.
We ask Benaifer whether as producer, she would want to move to the web.
“Being number one in comedy, and having won most awards this year, courtesy Bhabhiji and May I Come in Madam, we have got many offers. But Sanjay, who loves his characters and the plot, feels it would be tough to end the story in just 12 episodes.”
She also rejects talk that Indian TV needs to change. “Everything is going good. We are here to serve the audiences what they want. It is like saying- I make good pasta, but if people want to eat biryani, I will still give them pasta. Who am I to question audience tastes? And that too, differs from person to person.”
Looking ahead, Benaifer, who has done award-winning shows in other genres as well, is planning to make a thriller next. “This genre has always worked with CID and Crime Patrol.”
But some big ticket shows in that genre had not worked in the recent past. “Yes, there were some reasons. I am not the right person to comment on the same. All I can say is that we have worked out the chinks in the armour.”
In closing, we ask her about the burning safety fire issue, post the Kamala Mills and Cinevistas blaze incidents. Says Benaifer, “Edit 11 always takes all possible precautions– e.g. enough exits and fire hydrants. I am now serious about hosting safety drills, to create awareness about what to do in case of fire. Timely knowledge can save many lives.”
We agree, Benaifer.