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Eyeing the top slot

Nithya Subramanian

It's tough competition ahead for Hindi channels, as Sony and Star Plus churn out new and exciting programmes in their race to the coveted No 1 slot.


A still from the serial `Hum 2 Hain Na' to be aired on Sony TV.

There's never a dull moment in show business. Ever since Star TV managed to surge ahead of competition and climbed to the top with its immensely popular Kaun Banega Crorepati, other channels have been trying to dethrone it by introducing new shows. And Sony Entertainment Television (SET) is counting on Pop Idol to do the trick.

According to industry sources, preparations are in full swing to begin the search for India's most talented singer. "It's on a very, very large scale and will not be restricted to the middle-class or the upper middle-class. Even the rickshaw-wallah will be encouraged to participate," says a producer involved with the show. The talent search will be a collaborative effort of Fremantle (which owns the show worldwide), Sony, Delhi-based Miditech and Mumbai's Optymistix.

And the competition is only getting tougher, with Sony launching new shows. The latest offering is a daily children's show called Hum 2 Hain Na, adapted from a Latin American series Complices at Rescate (Friends to the Rescue), featuring child-artiste Hansika Motwani in a double role (of Koel and Kareena) along with pet dog Bruno. The second one, targeted at the young adults, is called Ayushmaan, which is about a 17-year-old doctor.

Sunil Lulla, Executive Vice-President, SET, says, "Having strengthened our franchise in the 9 p.m. -10.30 p.m. primetime band, with the channel's ratings growing by 17 per cent and the audience share increasing by 28 per cent, the channel is now gearing to expand that primetime band." With serials such as Kkusum, Jassi Jaisse Koi Nahin and Ye Meri Life Hain, the channel has been able to give stiff competition to Star Plus' soaps, he says. So much so, that Star has stopped the afternoon repeat telecast of Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii to retain its audiences.

Star Plus is taking the competition head on with some new shows. While the bespectacled and fringed Jassi has won the hearts of the masses, the channel is planning to launch Dekho Magar Pyaar Se, featuring a slightly overweight, pig-tailed and bespectacled (sounds familiar?) heroine who will transform into a swan. That's not all; a new game-show, based on Dirty Rotten Cheater, currently being shown on Italy's Canale 5, is in the offing. The show is based on deception and double crossing and six players have to guess answers to a series of light-hearted questions.

Creating waves

If Balaji Telefilms, Cinevistaas and the Creative Eye are famous due to their family soaps and mythological shows, Delhi-based Miditech, promoted by Alva Brothers — Niret and Nikhil - have shot into limelight with its documentaries Living On The Edge and Lions of Gir. But Miditech has now evolved into a full-fledged production company and is the content creator for a whole range of channels such as National Geographic, BBC, Star Plus, Sony and Doordarshan, and offers a whole gamut of programming options including fiction, reality shows, lifestyle and documentaries.

Niret Alva says that while the company has expanded into different programming genres, documentaries continue to be a passion with them. "The Leopards of Bollywood featured on National Geographic was a documentary. We spent a year chasing the leopards that threatened people in Mumbai. But when we edit a documentary, we must remember that it tells a story," he adds.

Adding new sounds, but...

The `Baby Dolls' and the DJ Remixes have been receiving flak from various groups. Though music videos are required to get a clearance from the Censor Board, most come out unscathed. As most of these videos are played on channels that are uplinked outside India, it becomes difficult for the Government to take action in this regard.

Response can be sent to life@thehindu.co.in

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