Married to renowned Writer-Director Abhigyan Jha, she is also the co-founder of Undercover Productions along with her husband. They have together produced Kali Ek Agni Pariksha for Star Plus. Mrinal is also the Producer of Jai Hind, India’s first late night stand up comedy show on the internet. Owing to its popular run over the web, the show was picked by Colors and now also airs on TV as "The Late Night Show"
Rangmunch brings to you an exclusive interview with Mrinal Jha as she talks about her expedition in the world of television and writing.
Rangmunch: Do you meet different people in order to observe mannerisms and behavior?
Mrinal: No, I don’t meet them specifically for that purpose, but when I meet, I do observe.
Rangmunch: Do your observations influence your writing?
Mrinal: Sometimes some people have very very unique quirks and I find that interesting and it stays somewhere in my mind. And then years later it sometimes comes out in some characterisation.
Rangmunch: What do you do when a scene doesn’t turn out the way you had written?
Mrinal: Actually that happens a lot of times (laughing). But having seen so much, its not such a crushing issue for me anymore. But if I feel that because a scene was not done in a certain way it has actually taken away from the story, then I try and discuss the same with the concerned people and try to rectify it. Good thing about TV is that because its everyday and you always get a second chance, so you can always better some things. That’s a possibility, unless something goes totally haywire which is a rare possibility. As a writer at times you might end up feeling that this nuance was missed out or a character did not say it the right way with the right emotions. So these are things which one has to live with because everyone is human, everyone is operating under so much stress. But you can always correct them because it’s a daily soap and unlike films where its once done, you can’t do much about it.
Rangmunch: What should be the time span of a television show?
Mrinal: I think it should depend on the story. There is no such rule that a Show should go on for a definite period. Some stories can go on for years, why not! Like for example in KALI , we knew from day one, that was the whole idea that it was going to be a definitive 6 months story, finite series so to say. That’s how we went about it. We knew the mid-point , we knew the end point. We practically knew everything.
Rangmunch: What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you get up in the morning and the last thing when you go to sleep at night?
Mrinal: First thing that comes to my mind as soon as I wake up is that I have to write so much today, and the last thing that plays on my mind when going to bed is that I have not finished my writing still.
Rangmunch: Do you think being in this industry for all these years has changed you as a person? And what have you learnt?
Mrinal: That’s a very deep question. Has it changed me as a person, I can’t really tell because I don’t know what I would have been otherwise. I mean I have nothing else to compare it with. But it possibly has. I think one thing that I have discovered and I am happy about and which is very very clear to me is that writing is what I can do and that I couldn’t have done anything else. So I am in the right line of business, writing and now producing. This is my field and I am glad that I sort of ended up making the right choice.
Rangmunch: So has becoming a Producer given you more freedom in expressing what you want to?
Mrinal: It has, definitely. This is what I saw with KALI for example and now that we are doing other stuff like JAI HIND and all of that, toh all the more so. And that is how I believe is going to be the pattern of the future where people who want to create content will create it the way they want to, what they want to and go directly to the audience.
Rangmunch: Does the fear of predictability ever scare you?
Mrinal: Ya ofcourse. When you are telling a story and you end up rehashing old scenes , you are actually not doing anything new. Actually it means you are not doing your job at all. So you have to constantl;y rethink and re-invent. Sometimes There are certain situations that are bound to happen with certain pair of characters for example, and youknow that it will work if you do it in the predictable way . But again the challenge would be how you can show the same stuff or the predictable scene in a unique way. You can bring in a difference; you can create something new and unexpected. The key word of entertainment is to surprise an audience and bring in something novel.
(As told to Swati Ghosh and Niharika Vidya Sagar)