Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The grand old man of cinema and teleserials, Lekh Tandon, is back-this time with a Varanasi based serial-Bikhri Aas Nikhri Preet.

Lekh Tandon, the man with films like Professor, Amrapali, Jhuk Gaya Aasman, Prince, Jahan Pyaar Mile, Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhaye, Agar Tum Na Hote and serials like Darar, Adhikar, Milan, Farmaan, Phir Wahi Talash, etc has now directed this serial, based on the novel Vyavadhan published in 1963 by Late Shanti Kumari Bajpai,. The novel, hailed as a literary classic, was nominated for the Hindi Sahitya Award.

The serial, which begins its run on DD National from April 27 at 9 pm, has songs put to music by noted music director Khayyam with lyrics by Naqsh Lyalpuri, Maya Govind and Ahmed Wasi.

"The good thing about working with Doordarshan is that it allows you to dig your grave or make your mark. Interference with the creative sensibilities of a director is not an issue unlike private channels where you have creative heads constantly dictating to you. I find that very difficult to adjust to. This serial has given me the chance to explore my creative abilities to the fullest and leave my directorial stamp on the work. And DD National gives it a very strong outreach-especially to the hinterlands of the state and other parts of the country which is essentially my target audience. Also the grand scale of the serial owes its thanks to the huge investment made by the producers, unparalleled in the history of Doordarshan in India."

NRI couple Trinetra and Kanika Bajpai joined hands to produce in this serial which is quite a family affair-what with both acting in the serial too along with daughter Anshula who has contributed to the screenplay and dialogues.



Well known director of super hit movies like Amrapali and Prince, Tandon made his directorial debut in 1961 with Professor which was a runaway hit. After that he went on to direct memorable films like Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan, Agar Tum Na Hote , Doosri Dulhan and Khuda Kasam . Not satisfied with directing movies alone he took up the challenge of directing serials and won accolades for that too. His serial Phir Wahi Talaash got the President's Best Serial of the year Award . Some of the other popular serials directed by him include Dil Daryaa, Doosra Kewal , Daraar , Farmaan, Kurukshetra, Adhikaar, Khushi and Milan .

Anil Dharker, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Charles Jacob, Dolly Thakore, Kiran Deohans, Rakesh Sharma, Rekha Nigam, Vanita Kohli, Vinod Ranganath.



A serial is like a newspaper which you throw away after reading

Director Lekh Tandon must be definitely in his sixties, but he'd give a complex to any youngster. He is full of energy and life and always on his toes. We met him recently at Citizen Hotel, Juhu where he was shooting for Manish Goswami's Adhikaar (Zee). No small talk, no pomp, he answers every question pertinently.

Tandon is one of the old timers who has given us unforgettable films like Professor, Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhaye, Agar Tum Na Hote. He has made 15-odd films. Agar Tum... was his last film and in 1984 he made a smooth transition from the big to the small screen to carve out a new identity in the then nascent television industry. His first serial was called Phir Wahi Talaash which was written by Reoti Saran Sharma. He was living in Delhi those days and Phir Wahi.... was followed by serials like Dil Dariya (which starred a young Shahrukh Khan in the lead role), Doosra Kewal, Farmaan. Though all these serials were fairly successful, Tandon was beginning to feel stifled in the capital and with Doordarshan. Finally, fed up with this, one day he moved back to Mumbai.

That is when Daraar came his way. It was to propel him back into the limelight. The serial was one of the most popular on Zee. It starred Kanwaljeet, Arundhati and Divya Seth in the unforgettable role of Lola. Undoubtedly, Tandon is a name to reckon with today. After Daraar, he went onto serials such as Kurukshetra and Aur Shoma Jalti Rahi which was rechristened as Adhikaar (still running on Zee) and Kahan Se Kahan Tak. If there is something special about Tandon's work, it is his bringing Muslim culture to the mainstream. Most of his serials have dealt with Muslim characters, one way or the other.

Tandon attributes his success to his hardwork and dedication. He quite modestly informs you that his moving to television was only because he stopped getting film offers and he couldn't take the unprofessional attitudes of the film wallahs. Inspite of being from the older generation he never had any problems in adjusting to the new generation and their ways of working. ``You have to have a basic understanding of the medium,'' says he, explaining that the main difference between films and television is that cinema has a captivated audience whereas television audience can walk out if they don't like it.

``A serial is like a newspaper you throw away after reading; cinema is like a literary book on the shelf. You can turn to it any time. I'm enjoying television thoroughly but the desire to do films hasn't gone yet. But now the parameters, the attitudes, the business, everything has changed and I don't fit in it,'' says Tandon, regretfully.

If you've noticed, most of his directorial work is produced by Manish Goswami (Daraar, Kahan Se..., Adhikaar). He accepts that his first preference is Manish and he likes to work with him. ``Emotionally and professionally I'm tied to Manish. I want to be left alone with full freedom and Manish gives me that freedom as a producer. I'd like to work outside but I'm at the end of my life so why should I roam or auction myself?'' says he.Tandon's day starts at 5.30 am with a brisk walk which helps him stay fit. And if it is a holiday, he is on the Internet from seven to eleven. he likes to spend the afternoons with his four grandchildren. ``And yes, I also fight with my wife and argue about the present situation,'' he smiles.

He doesn't watch television except for the news and he hates to watch his own serials as he starts finding faults with them. Being a Hindu he believes in rebirth and if given a chance he would want return as the director Lekh Tandon and do better next time as he feels he has failed this time. But only if he has his wife in his next birth too, without whom he thinks it would have been impossible. ``I've seen a lot of hardships and I'm ready to face it again only if my wife is with me,'' he says. As to plans for retirement: ``No'' says he emphatically, and adds ``I would like to die with my boots on. The best death would be saying `Cut it'.''

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.




Ashok Anchan, 30/05/07, Mumbai
Veteran filmmaker Lekh Tandon is returning to films with a musical family drama, likely to be produced by Rajshri Films.

Tandon is not only credited with launching the career of Shah Rukh Khan in a TV serial Fauji, but was also instrumental in providing a break to Shammi Kapoor (Professor in 1962 and Prince in 1966), Rajendra Kumar and Saira Banu (Jhuk Gaya Aasman in 1968) and resurrecting the professional career of Rajesh Khanna ( Agar Tum Na Hote in 1983) and many others.

Tandon, who is in his late eighties, says, "I am gearing myself to direct a film. It will belong to the family drama genre. Either one of the older banners or I myself will produce the film."

Tandon has made films like Amrapali, Jhuk Gaya Aasman, Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaaye, Doosri Dulhan and others. Do Raahain was his last film in 1997, starring Meenakshi Sheshadri and others. Tandon has also made television serials like Phir Wohi Talash and Dil Dariya and others, one of his last TV ventures being Aisa Des Hai Mera for Sony. The last time he featured on film was in a cameo role in Ashutosh Gowariker's Swades.



It was a huge surprise for everyone shooting at Chandivali Studio for the serial Bikhari Aas Nikhari Preet produced by Kanika Bajpai and Trinetra Bajpai and directed by veteran Lekh Tandon. Veteran Shammi Kapoor actually came to visit his very old friend who had directed him in his ward-winning role in Professor and later on in Prince as well.

Shammi Kapoor and Lekh Tandon both hail from a town now in Pakistan and had struggled together to get their footholds in the film industry. Their friendship blossomed then and has remained for over five decades.

The artistes of the serial Divya Dwivedi and Piyush Sahdev could not believe their eyes on seeing the veteran and touched his feet. Said Shammi, “I was sitting at home and was getting bored so I picked up my phone and asked Lekh where he was. So here I am!”

The highpoint was that Shammi Kapoor himself drove his Mercedes all the way from Malabar Hill to Chandivali Studios at Andheri, a distance of almost 40 kilometres in Sunday’s not-too-light traffic on December 23. Shammi went nostalgic and said, "The last time i had come here was to shoot for the climax of Ajooba in 1990. A set of the ship had been erected here and I had shot with Amitabh and Rishi Kapoor."

All the technicians too gathered around him and Shammi Kapoor obliged them with clicking photographs. "Had I known that my presence would disturb the shooting so much I wouldn't have come here," he quipped.



Posted on 13 October 2001
Lekh Tandon is to television what Dev Anand is to the Indian film industry.

A half century of films and TV serials later, the septuagenarian director is indefatigable, still bubbling with energy. After a distinguished career as a film director (his last project was the unforgettable Rajesh Khanna-Rekha-Raj Babbar starrer Agar Tum Na Hote), Lekhji took to television nearly 17 years ago. .

He started with Phir Wahi Talaash on DD1, and his last TV offering has been the recently concluded Khushi on B4U. But Tandon is not one to rest on his laurels. For someone his age, he is still unbelievably charged up to meet the challenges posed to directors by TV, though movies remain his first love..

Lekhji is passionate about his stories and subscribes to that school of thought among directors that believes in story telling holding center stage. An amazing powerhouse of energy, he is equally blunt while spelling out his dissatisfaction with his career. As if to finally be able to do things his way, Lekhji has turned producer and will shortly be rolling out serials under his own banner. Indiantelevision.com's correspondent Amar met Lekh Tandon in his office at Andheri to find out what makes the man tick.

When did you first realise that you had an inclination towards film direction?
I first came to Mumbai in 1944 on a holiday and happened to stay with Prithviraj Kapoor. Raj Kapoor, who had entered films by then, took me around some of the studios. I was instantly fascinated by the medium. That was when I decided that I wanted to be a director.

What are the natural instincts required of a successful director?
The ability to discern and make the right selection. This applies to everything - from the choice of the subject to the creation of the characters, the locations, settings…everything. The director has to be driven by his convictions, not be someone guided by his compulsions.

What kind of a storyline appeals to you?
Stories that revolve around human relationships, where the elements of sacrifice and care hold center stage.

Many directors complain that TV offers them very limited freedom to improvise. Your comments?
I agree that TV has its limitations. There are tremendous pressures of budget and time, and of course, channel guidelines under which one has to operate. But this is what makes directing TV serials all the more challenging. It sharpens your skills a lot more than films do. Frankly, I feel there is no point in complaining. One should instead take it up as a challenge and enjoy it.

How different is directing serials vis-à-vis movies?
Cinema is a no-compromise medium - no shortage of time, money etc. The attitude is - go all out and create a quality product. The atmosphere and pace are more relaxed and the energy levels are much higher. Cinema is like writing a book- it has the shelf life of a lifetime. Good cinema can raise you to the level of immortalit Correspondingly, the commitment and motivation levels are much higher when one is directing movies.

Given a choice today, would you prefer to direct a movie or a serial?
Personally, I would prefer to direct movies.

You directed your first serial - Phir Wahi Talaash over 15 years ago. How different is directing a serial today vis-à-vis the mid-eighties?
Very different. In those days, the pace at which we worked was much smoother. Today, there's a frenzy to save costs and meet deadlines. As regards the time required for shooting one episode, I took three shifts then and I take three shifts now, but back then, there was some reassurance that if, perchance, the episode did not complete in three shifts, it could be extended to a fourth. Today, such a thing is unthinkable. As far as costs go, I would not be in the best position to comment because I have turned a producer only now.Technology, of course, has changed remarkably. The quality of cameras, editing facilities have all changed.There is also a major shift in the storylines. The same passion in story telling is just not there. The thrust seems to be more on technique instead. The marketing requirements of channels tend to play a role in the shaping of storylines. In terms of performances, actors then worked in one or maybe two projects at a time. Today, with actors doing so many projects, it is obvious that performances will suffer.

Do you write the serials you direct?
I write the stories of most serials that I direct. The screenplay and dialogues are handled by other people though. But I am open to stories from others because at my age, I realize that my ideas might be a little out of sync with the times. Is being the writer-director of the same project beneficial or harmful?It certainly is beneficial. The story being your brainchild, it gives you the maximum scope to improvise on at the stage of shooting.

How do you plan out your work schedules?
Till the last few months, I was directing two serials simultaneously, which required me to shoot for almost 20 days in a month. Now that I have turned producer, I still plan to take up two projects. (Laughs) I still have a lot to do. I am not as old (at heart) as I look.
How do you instruct the actors? Do you personally enact scenes for them?
No, never. I feel that amounts to questioning the capabilities of the actor. I just talk to the actors on a one-to -one basis, make them understand the situations and feel the emotions.

Who are your model directors?
Raj Kapoor, Kidar Sharma, Frank Caprah and Binny Wilder.

As a director, what marks your style and makes you stand apart from others?
I believe it is my sensitivity in story telling. Let me put it this way. There are some directors who are actor-directors, some are story-directors, and some are camera- directors. I know for sure I am not a technical buff, my strength lies in my stories. But I have also managed to extract superlative performances from my actors.

Which subject is closest to you at the moment?
It's the disintegration of values, especially among women. I feel a section of women have crossed limits and become repulsive, all in the name of modernity. Under the pretext of having been suppressed in the past, they are now prejudiced against society. I would like to work on this subject.

Are directors/ scriptwriters recognized for their work or is the respect confined to stars?
Stars are definitely recognized more than directors or technicians and that is understandable. Stars belong to the audience. Their work is directly seen by the audience. But if a director or writer is respected in his professional community, he should not complain.

Who are your favorite actors?
A lot of them- Kanwaljeet, Pawan Malhotra, Arundhati, Divya Seth, Arun Bali, Naveen Nischol, Vinita Malik, Seema Bhargava, Lillette Dubey.

Which is your favorite piece of work?
I am not happy with any of my projects. I feel my best is yet to come. I am a very dissatisfied man because I believe satisfaction is living death.

How do you unwind?
By playing on the computer and spending time with my grandchildren.

How would you like to be remembered?
As a man who came here with a lot of conviction but was not able to do a single damn thing he could be proud of. (Laughs) My innings is not through. I have just turned producer and there is a lot to come.

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