I believe that every genre can work, says producer director Anand Mahendroo


We continue the countdown to FRAMES 2003 with an interview with producer director Anand Mahendroo, managing director of Advance Entertainment Network Ltd. At the convention, he will speak on 'Television programming : Getting the right mix'.

The last year has seen a large number of big budget programmes being launched by all channels. Also, a lot of film personalites are set to launch their TV careers... Are the investments in these stars justified and will it reap returns for the channels?

Let me begin by saying that for any kind of television show, film or song to work, it is very important that it touches the audience. It has to move and motivate the audience! It has to be aesthetically qualitative...

I believe that every genre can work... it is not genres or a big budget or the star that work, but what you do with all of them! As for big stars, if the format demands a big star, then yes, the investment in a star is justified. Like if you do Macbeth on TV, or The Far Pavilions ... with an epic feel, then yes, a big star is justified... but in a daily soap, no ... it is not justified.

Of course, big stars have their own draw, there is no denying that, but that alone will not guarantee a hit show. The stars should connect, touch the hearts of the audiences. The show should have certain humane qualities, certain aspirational qualities.

Like in Kaun Banega Crorpeati, the show was already successful internationally, the format was successful, the set was great but it was also what the show did with Amitabh Bachchan's aura, his image, the warmth of his voice and his personality that got the viewers hooked.

If you are adding value to the star through innovation, identifying your audiences' needs and adapting accordingly, then yes... the investments in stars are justified. I think what MAX has done with Mandira Bedi for the World Cup is great! It has very cleverly targeted the female viewers in the country by using a woman and her ignorance of the game in a unique manner. And I believe that many more women are watching cricket.

I can end by saying that the channels have to know the audiences they are targeting and fine tune their programming accordingly. Don't try and please everybody.

What is the next stage of evolution in TV programming ?

Understanding the viewers' aspirations and needs... identifying and adapting programming to that is the next stage of evolution. Genres are not important. What you do with the genre is!

Like for example, let us once again look at KBC. Quiz shows were always targeted at school kids and the educated audiences. It needed somebody to say that it needs to be broad based...to understand that even a house wife and a 'bania' (grocer) would be interested in watching a quiz show, if it connects to him/her, to make a KBC. It had a range of exciting elements... drama, suspense, and rewards! And very cleverly, they started off the first episode with a housewife in a sari on the hot seat, answering simple questions to make a lot of real money. Instantly, housewives and everybody all over India connected with it.

In the future, the successful mixture is again what the channels will keep on trying... But ultimately, all genres will co exist.

What is going to drive viewership in the coming years?

Once again, innovation and quality will drive viewership... We cannot wish away the soaps...we cannot wish away the sitcoms.... The Law of Diminishing Returns applies to television programming as well.

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