Indian filmmaker Ishaan Dutta injects a dose of Bollywood flavour into Malaysian television, writes Dennis Chua
THE name Ishaan Dutta may not ring a bell in Malaysia, but the Indian filmmaker based in Mumbai has been a rising star in his homeland for the last seven years.
Dutta, 35, who is from Kolkata, was first a Bollywood playback singer, best known for singing the tunes in the 2000 movie Mohabbatein which starred Datuk Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwariya Rai and Amitabh Bachchan.
He has two Indian television awards and one film award under his belt, and has been here for the last two months filming his first Malaysian television series, titled Harapan.
The 13-episode drama series is produced by Kacip Pictures for RTM TVI (also available on Astro Channel 180).
It stars Shahz Jaszle (Azura 2012) and Miera Liyana (Jangan Pandang-Pandang), veteran actors Shaharuddin Thamby, Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan and Hamidah Wahab, and newcomers Didi Firdaus and Aida Jebat (of Akademi Fantasia 9).
Kacip Pictures is best known for producing television dramas as Menyusur Ruang Kasih (with Ery Putra and Julia Ziegler), Desa Ria, Lorong (Iqram Dinzly and Ika Rahim) and E-Maya (Faezah Elai).
“Filming took place within 22 days early this year, around the Klang Valley,” says Dutta. “Harapan will be screened in mid-July, and I’m sure it will be well-received.”
The Malay drama, which is filmed in Bollywood style, tells the story of conflict between a father and son.
Shaharuddin, whom Dutta describes as a brilliant actor, plays Mustafa, a school teacher-turned-businessman from Kuala Terengganu. Shahz plays his musically gifted son, Zaid.
Mustafa, a conservative and rigid man, wants Zaid to study business and mortgages his house to finance Zaid’s education.
“He wants Zaid to be a successful CEO and appear on magazine covers,” says Dutta.
In university, Zaid meets rich girl Noreen (Miera), who believes in pursuing one’s own dreams.
The university holds a rock music contest for student bands, and Noreen enters her band, the Strings.
On the day of the contest, an important member takes ill. Zaid replaces him and rocks the house, amazing everyone especially Noreen.
Romance blossoms between Noreen and Zaid, and she convinces him that becoming a successful musician is his true dream.
“This leads to a conflict between father and son,” says Dutta.
While Harapan has 13 episodes, more will come later, and Zaid’s and Noreen’s family history will be gradually revealed.
Dutta says a Bollywood-style production contains a few elements. “First, it must have a strong story content, which is deep and emotional. This is followed by good screenplay, where the camera follows each scene meticulously, the colours are bright, and the lighting is aplenty,” he says.
There are also colourful costumes and props, attractive locations and great cinematography.
“Each scene is ‘painted’ well by the camera crew,” he says, adding that good Bollywood acting requires the stars to be expressive and emotional, with clear body language to tell their stories.
“Last but not least, there must be good music that captures the mood of each screen moment,” he says.
“Dutta says he admires the work of Malaysian-based Indian filmmakers Sharad Sharan and Kabir Bhatia.
“It has been a wonderful experience working with great Malaysian talents,” he says.
He loves making romantic movies and television series and plans to shoot a full-length movie later.
“The reason I love romantic movies is because they tug at the heartstrings and viewers can relate to them very well.”
He would love to work with award-winning actors such as Farid Kamil, Syamsul Yusof, Remy Ishak, Maya Karin and Tiz Zaqyah in the future.
“To make a great movie, it is always good to work with the best in the industry. But it’s also important to rope in new talents,” he says.
Producer Wan Zainura Wan Badri says Harapan will mark the first RTM drama series directed by a reputable filmmaker from India.
“Dutta is sought after in his home country and is a perfectionist. It’s an honour to have him here to better Malaysian television dramas and movies,” she says.