New York Film Academy 4-Week Producing Workshop graduate Kalpana Malviya’s original reality program “Made in America” launches this week on Zee TV, India’s largest television network.
India.com reports that “Made in America” is the first-ever English-language Bollywood reality program to be produced entirely in Hollywood. Hosted by Nina Davuluri, the 2014 Miss America winner, the show chronicles the journey of six young South East Asian women selected from a pool of 6,000 hopefuls in a talent competition in the vein of “America’s Next Top Model.” The competition includes participation in acting classes at the New York Film Academy.
Last fall, Malviya told the New York Film Academy Blog that her NYFA training was a help in poising her to launch her professional life in television: “I’m from India. Hollywood films really pop in India. I took what I learned at NYFA and landed a job with Zee TV.”
It was while working with Zee TV that Malviya came up with the idea for “Made in America,” which combines Hollywood glamour with Bollywood power for an entirely unique reality television experience. Malviya recalled, “I pitched them the idea. They loved it and now, here we are.”
As Sameer Targe, CEO, ZEE TV America explained to India.com, Zee TV is “the flagship television network for the South Asian community in the United States,” meaning that the new reality program will provide an exciting collaboration and cultural bridge between Hollywood and Bollywood.
We had a chance to catch up with Kalpana Malviya to hear her thoughts about bringing her original series to life.
NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?
KM: As a child I was always fascinated by films and wanted to make movies and TV shows. I pursued modeling in India to try and further my dreams. I won (first runner up) a beauty pageant, Miss Gladrags, 2009, and from there received many opportunities. After my modeling contract was up, I started working at various production companies. I soon realized I had to learn. So, I decided to come to the New York Film Academy to expand my knowledge in production.
NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us?
KM: My favorite NYFA moment was the realization of my true abilities. I saw a new world opening with tremendous opportunities all around me. I was soaking up as much as I could, but it wasn’t until a professor from NYFA sat me down and told me that I had a natural talent for producing, I realized what I wanted to do within the industry.
NYFA: What inspired your passion for producing?
KM: In addition to my fascination with films, I had a knack for business. I am certain the business woman in me was influenced by watching my father run his own company. I found myself naturally gravitating towards producing, without realizing what it was at the time. There I could utilize both my creativity and business abilities to produce quality film & TV shows, which allowed me to bring all my skills to the table. It wasn’t just enough to understand the story, I had to visualize and work towards bringing my vision to the right niche market.
NYFA: Now that “Made in America” has aired on Zee TV (congrats, again!), can you tell us how your role as a producer has evolved? Are there any aspects of bringing the production to air that have surprised you, or opened new challenges?
KM: I would have to say that learning to market the show to the right audience was certainly a challenging and evolving aspect for me. In addition, to bring the story forth I had to explore new ways of marketing with social media, targeted ad campaigns, and press coverage, all while keeping in mind the final goal of increasing our show’s revenue.
NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for preparing you for the work you are doing today?
KM: Of course! I took my first steps toward development, direction and distribution (“Triple D’s”) at NYFA. There, I gained all the necessary knowledge and technical skills to become a creative mega force. All of those technical skills and creative understanding are critical for my role at Zee TV.
NYFA: You’ve said in other interviews that part of your inspiration for “Made in America” was a desire to see more high quality South East Asian content on TV. Can you share with our international student community your view, as a working producer, as to why this is so important?
KM: I think it’s super important to celebrate diversity within media. America has been recognized as the melting pot of cultures from my recollection. Its even more pertinent to bring this to our communities given today’s heated political climate. We can use media as an outlet to reflect different ethnicities, viewpoints, and lifestyles. I would urge to all student to choose a media platform that represents diversity.
I am thankful to be a part of one such media force with a threshold of 1 billion viewers over 171 countries around the world. Zee TV brings cultures together and celebrates differences in cultures of our unique countries to amplify the beauty.
NYFA: For our producing students, can you offer any advice on bringing an original concept like “Made in America” to live on a major network?
KM: Its a combination of finding the right media platform that allows you to be innovative and creative and where the executives fully support their staff’s new ideas. Without people like Sameer Targe (Zee America’s CEO) and Kitty Koo (VP International Relations at NYFA), among others, to support and believe in me, making these shows would not be possible.
At the end of the day you need to believe in your own vision and people to help you make that vision a reality. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world” (Harriet Tubman)
NYFA: Can you share with us about any upcoming projects you are working on?
KM: I’m working on an array of new programs produced in the U.S. by Zee, which will air on the channel throughout 2017 and 2018. There’s a huge variety in what we’re producing — a matchmaking show, a business show, and a new style family quiz game show, as well as a docu-drama on successful Indian-American entrepreneurs.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kalpana Malviya for taking the time to share a part of her story with our community.