A serial is like a newspaper which you throw away after reading
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
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.