NATASHA & DEEPRAJ RANA
Two is company
In their case, two definitely is company. From meeting and falling in love on the sets of a TV series, the two have actually set up their own production company; Vakratund Production, that will showcase their combined talents and produce good TV shows.
Deepraj Rana is an actor by choice. Natasha was forced into acting. Four years ago they met on the sets of a serial where they played husband and wife. It was love at first sight and marriage followed. Life was not so easy in Mumbai's PG digs. But they braved their way and waited for the sunny days. Slowly good work started coming their way and today Deepraj and Natasha are fairly recognisable faces on television.
Deepraj may figure higher on the popularity charts because he has had more exposure on television and displayed his wares in a variety of roles over the last five years. But Natasha is not all that far behind, having done a lot of episodic work and major roles in as many as seven serials. "So far it's been a satisfying progress but the future looks quite bright," gushes Natasha which brings a smile on her husband's serious face.
A post-graduate from the Department of Theatre, Punjab University, Deepraj joined Nadira Babbar's theatre group, Ekjut, in 1989 and honed his acting skills on stage for the next five years. He got an opening on television with Tara, where he was paired opposite Ratna Pathak-Shah, and almost immediately he bagged another major role in Reporter of which he did nearly 100 episodes. "After Shekhar (Suman) I was the main guy in the serial and in Shehkar's absence I held the fort," he recalls with a smile. His other significant roles include The Great Maratha, Shatranj, Yug and Umeed. Currently he can be seen on the tube as one of the three crime fighters in the action-thriller Commando; as a film financier who takes a liking for Shefali Bane in Neeyat; Ek Mulaqat and Jai Hanuman.
Natasha, who was forced into acting by Lalit Behl, started out with Behl's tele-films and later acted in Lekh Tandon's Doosra Kewal and Virendra Saini's Goongi Tareekh. She came to Mumbai to act in an episode of her friend, Rajesh Bhatia's Anmol Ratan where she met the man of her dreams and stayed back to get married. For some time she had little work and went through lean phases in her career but about two years ago she started getting regular work in serials like Hospital, Hostel, Kaash and Farz. Her on air serials include Banegi Apni Baat and Commando. In the latter she is cast opposite Deepraj.
And now that things have settled down on the career front and thanks to financial security, the due have set up their production company called Vakratund Productions, under which they have produced an episode of Rishtey titled Pehchaan which will be telecast on Zee in the second week of March. Written by Natasha herself and directed by Rajesh Ransinghe, Pehchaan revolves around a couple and an eight-year-old boy and has some interesting twists and turns. Their second episode of Rishtey also written by Natasha, will be shot this month. Moreover, they have two more stories approved by Zee.
Ask Natasha how she finds time for serial writing in her very busy schedule and Natasha says the writing was done a few years ago. "When we were living in a PG accommodation and had less work in hand, I concentrated on writing and wrote several stories," she reveals.
They won't be content just making episodes of Rishtey. Deepraj and Natasha are planing a serial titled Adhipatya which is to be directed by Debloy Dey. Written, obviously, by Natasha, Adhipatya, which means power, deals with male domination in a family and revolves around a man and five women. "In every class of our society, it is the man who dominates at home. In an upper class home, the domination is subtle. In a middle class house, the dominatioon is more obvious because the man is the sole bread-earner. But in the lower class, the man is more like a dictator," explains Natasha, who is currently supervising the script work.
But they won't start shooting the serial till it is approved by a channel at the script level. The channel they are aiming the serial at is Zee and they are hopeful of getting the go ahead signal. "We can't go ahead with shooting without approval because we are not in a position to take a risk at this stage," reasons Deepraj.Though they have got into production now, both Deepraj and Natasha insist that acting is their first priority and production comes next. "We are basically actors and we want to make our mark in the acting arena," says Deepraj. And will they be acting in their own productions? "Yes, of course," says Natasha. "The whole idea behind getting into productioon is to get good work for ourselves, too." But neither Deepraj nor Natasha have acted in their maiden production Pehchaan. However, Natasha will work in the next episode of Rishtey, which they produce, and, of course, both will work in Adhipatya which the duo claim is their dream project.
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