Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah Hai has completed 14 years, an impressive achievement by all accounts. However, it is really special for its creator Asit Kumarr Modi who had to wait for six years before the show could take off.
“There’s a lot of excitement but also a sense of responsibility. As the years go by, the expectations are also growing. I just hope we can go on entertaining our audiences as always and spreading more smiles,” Asit told indianexpress.com as the show clocks 14 years today.
Having launched in 2008, the SAB TV show is the longest-running show on Indian television. Sharing how the show’s concept was turned down by most as TV was ruled by only saas-bahu dramas, with comedies being shown over the weekends. To even think that people would accept comedy on a daily basis was hard to believe. “However, we believed in our concept and knew it will strike a chord with the audience. It was new but something that will make people smile. I am glad we managed to do what we decided to,” he shared with a smile.
Recalling the days when he would reach out to channels with the script, Asit Kumarr Modi said that no one was ready to accept it. He shared that he knocked every door but would be turned away. With no one understanding the show, he would return home dejected. Having started his journey in 2002, it took him six years to crack a deal with SAB TV. “Sony Pictures was re-formatting SAB as a comedy channel, and the then COO NP Singh asked me if I wanted to do something. He liked the concept but there was no budget and I knew I would run into losses. However, my wife and my team assured me that this was something that will work. Hence I accepted it as a challenge, listening to my inner belief. We kept working hard and it’s already been 14 years. It feels like we just started yesterday.”
However, his struggle did not end with the show getting a platform as the audience too rejected the show initially. “Given they were used to watching kitchen dramas, they could not understand how this show had no heroine or vamp. There was also no saasu maa. Instead of a haveli, the set was a society, and the storyline had no major drama plots. They were in a state of disbelief,” Modi remembered with a chuckle. He added that after observing the show for some time, viewers realised that the show was about them. “After a couple of months, they saw that Jethalal was them and the neighbours were actually people around them. That’s when they connected and started giving us love. Yes, we had a tough start but the amount of love we have been receiving, there are no complaints.”
One thing that makes the comedy stand out is its perfect casting. Sharing that it was quite a ‘struggle’ to find the right faces, the producer said it took them almost six months to finalise the cast. “We wanted to be sure that each actor suits the part. Also, we wanted them to be relatable. This is why we took mostly new faces. I had worked with Dilip Joshi and Disha Vakani too had been doing theatre. Even then, most of them had no experience working on a daily show and it took us time to get into the grind. Tappu Sena, the kids, were all new and I think they brought a different energy to the table. The actors made the show reach newer heights.”
But when did he realise that he has struck gold, Asit Kumarr Modi said that it was when he received feedback from writer Taarak Mehta. On the occasion of the show completing 100 episodes, the team had invited the celebrated writer on the set. Modi shared, “He had such good things to tell the team. He also told me that I have made a good show and he loves watching it. Taarak bhai added that he is forgetting his writing after watching our show. That’s when I knew I was on the right track and should keep going.”
While the team has been going strong for 14 years, recently audiences have been showing their displeasure over the storyline. From repeated content to tracks being stretched unnecessarily, their complains are never ending. With so much love coming in, does the criticism hurt? “Not at all. If they love us, they have all the rights to give their harsh feedback. Also, if you look at social media, everything is just too negative. We, as a team do not take the trolling too seriously. However, we do take in consideration honest reviews and immediately work on it. We do believe that one has to keep on evolving. As for criticism, we take it with utmost sportsman spirit.”
Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah airs Monday-Saturday, 8:30 pm on SAB TV. It will air its 3502 episode tonight.