Creatively Different - Persis Siganporia

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We love the actors, we love the clothes, we love the dialogues, we love the plots, we love to hate the negative characters…basically we love everything about our favourite shows, but do we actually know how much work goes into it all? I, for one am very curious about all that happens behind the scenes and this curiosity led me to interview Persis Siganporia - one of the best Creative Director’s in the industry today. Persis has worked for some of the largest  production houses and provided her expertise to some of the most popular shows such as Bol Niti Bol, Kitni Mohabbat Hai, Radha ki Betiyaa, Dekha Ek Khwab, Humse hai life, Left Right Left, Bhaskar Bharti, Jab love hua…just to name a few. Now, I’ll be very honest, as an outsider to the television industry, when I think of a Creative head or Creative director many things come to mind - sets, content, scripts, locations, costumes but I know there is so much more to the title.  My conversation with Persis starts off with a, “Please bear with me”, after all, I don’t want to sound naïve but how do I ask one of the best Creative Director’s just what she is best at? To my relief, she understands my uncertainty and embarks on the nitty gritty’s of her job. So, if you are just as intrigued about the creation process as I am…Persis Siganporia talks to Tinsel Gupshup on what it is all about…


TG: Many people outside the industry don't really know what a Creative Head / Director's role is all about. Can you give some insight about your job?
The role of a creative director includes creating a concept with the writers, putting together the team (directors, technicians etc) according to the subject or concept of the show, script supervision, briefing the team, production design of the show, script coordination with the channel, overseeing and supervising the shoot, editing and submission of the episode. The Creative Director is also responsible for the quality check of the show and of course ensuring that it is delivered in time. I love the fact that a Creative Director’s job profile is not clearly defined because so many tasks and roles come under the umbrella. It is about getting the casting right, getting the clothes right, motivating the team and those are just some of the facets. Basically you are the conductor of the orchestra.




TG: Can you tell us about the kind of situations you face on the shoots on a daily basis?

PS: The fact is that every day we are faced with all kinds of situations. We work in very large units of over 100 people and when there are so many people, it is bound to be a bad day for one person or another. Come to think of it, there is never a perfect day! The actor may be having a great day but then there will be a problem with electricity, sound technicians…something or the other might be playing up. Sometimes the script may not have been approved or the script has just not come through because the writer is unavailable for some reason, the actor may have to leave early or sometimes everything is going so smoothly and it will start raining! This is where teamwork comes into play because you have to be supportive, cover for each other, draw on other people’s strengths and just make it happen. An actor may be having a very bad day – 30 takes, not being able to get his or her lines right, everyone is frustrated, time is running out but you just have to stop, take a step back, be calm and say, “Ok guys, let’s do this together…we’ll prompt you…we will do it.”


TG: You have worked for some of most well known production houses and channels such as DJ’s, Balaji, MTV, Channel V etc.  According to you, what does it take to be right there at the top…to be the best?

PS: Personally, I am very passionate about my work. I think you have to be persistent and very consistent about your work. A lot of it has to do with constantly reinventing, working on detailing and nuances. You need to be a good team player and a strong leader at the same time. A Creative Director’s job can get very monotonous so the trick is to keep reinventing but also be consistent. When you work 30 days a month, 16 hours a day…no breaks, you can’t just treat it as a job anymore…it takes so much out of you and I believe that if you are not passionate and honest about your work, it will completely tire you out and beat you down. So you have to be in love with your work and it has to come from the heart not just the mind.


TG: You have worked on many projects. Which one of them has given you immense satisfaction and a feeling of pride and joy?
I have only worked on shows that I have believed in but my absolute personal favourite show is “Radha ki betiyaan kuch kar dikhayengi.” The team was superb, writing was awesome and I got the opportunity to work with excellent technicians and actors. It was a fantastic learning experience, I made some great friends and I grew as a person during that phase. It was perfect, could not get better than that! I enjoyed that phase at DJ’s tremendously.




TG: As Creative director / head, have you been in a situation where you have not seen eye to eye with another department (your vision has been different etc)? How have you dealt with such a situation?

PS: At the end of the day, you have to work as a team. When you work together, you will grow. Of course there are differences but then you need to resolve them as a team because you cannot function without the support of the others. Sometimes I am not convinced by the scene that the writer has given to me and I will sit down, talk to them and if I am still not convinced, I will request them to rewrite. There have been times when the writer tells me to trust him and just go with it…The basic rule is that you have to believe in each other and most of all you need to understand where to let go and when to pull back. The biggest thing I have learnt in this job is letting go of my ego.  I’ll give you another example, I may be having a bad day because of the script or a technical glitch or bad takes but people around me understand that I am stressed so they will try and smooth things over and be supportive. Very simply, it is almost like a background score – you fade out and let someone else talk and sometimes you fade in to take things over. Everyone contributes in their own significant way, even the spot boy who gives you tea with a smile. So you may have your differences and that is just normal but you just have to be there for each other. Working in daily soaps you can never say that this show is doing well because of just one person….everyone who is involved makes the show what it is. My motto is “Convince or get convinced!”



TG: What is the worst part of your job?

PS: Sometimes there is a bit of lying and manipulation involved and I hate that about the job. For example, an actor is ill and I know that the person deserves a break yet because of the time restraints and pressure I’ll go in and say, “please take care and take your medication…lekin kal shoot kar logay na?” I hate that! Another thing is that you have so much authority and power and there is always the risk that it may change you and you might become a horrible person…I went through that phase where I felt that I might be changing so every year I take a break for a month and just ground myself. We work such long hours without any breaks…it can get insane. I am not just in this to earn money, experience, credit etc…I want to earn people! I love it when I go back to the sets and the spot dada comes up to me and says, “Tum set par 3 din tak nahi aaye toh mazaa nahi aayaa!” At the end of the day it is all about earning people!


TG: You have an extremely hectic schedule....when and if you get time off how do you unwind?

PS: It does get very hectic. I watch movies, sing, party and chill at home with friends…hold jamming sessions at home.



For Persis commitment and creativity go hand in hand. It is no small feat to create a show and nurture it to its huge success taking it through all the trials and tribulations that may come along the way. Day in and day out, a unit of hardworking and talented people work together to present us with 30 minutes of sheer magic! 30 minutes may not be much but for Persis and her team…it is worth a lifetime of experiences and memories.


Photo credit: Persis Siganporia


© Tinsel Gupshup

Jul 24, 2012
awesome persis ..keep rocking....i am so glad RKB is your pet project..yeeehhh

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