In House banks on soaps to bring in the dough

In House Productions is in a fever of activity these days.

Flinging itself seriously into the TV software race, it has branched out into all kinds of programming, leaving no genre untouched in a bid to get the revenues rolling in.

The staid five-year-old company floated by Sudesh 'Mani' Iyer is targeting hitting the number one position within the next two years, says Sameera Kohli, head of business development.

Two celebrity-based shows - both of which aired on Sony Entertainment - got loads of media attention for divergent reasons. While the Sekhar Suman-hosted Movers and Shakers did well while it was on air, the gameshow Jeeto Chhappar Phad Ke - hosted by filmstar Govinda - fell on its face despite all efforts to push it.

Now In House is moving into the safer territory of soaps. Jayate, a serial based on the life of cops, will go on air end-December on Sahara TV. A lot of research precedes the making of the serial that explores the human side of the police station and the personnel in uniform who man it. Irfan Khan and Irawati Harshe constitute the central protagonists.

Also on the cards are a kids' show anchored by Sunil Shetty, a reality show and a saas bahu soap of a 'different kind'. In short, In House is pitching in with an effort in every genre and taking it to different channels to get what business it can bag. "The stress is on developing the content and doing it scientifically. We want to be radical, and want to make programmes that will take the genre forward," says Kohli.

In House's hits-n-misses - Shekhar and Govinda

The formula seems to be working. Mudivu Ungal Kaiyal, an interactive show made by In House on the lines of Aap jo bole haan to haan, aap jo bole na to na, now in its fifth week on Sun TV, is likely to be made into two more languages. Katha Kathi, a serial on rural stories by renowned Marathi authors, was number two for a long while on Alpha Marathi till it went off air. The production house is now making a celebrity interview show for the Durga Pooja season for Alpha Bengali, focusing on Bengalis who have shifted out of the native state.

For the present, however, mega celebrity shows like Movers and Shakers and JCPK are out, thanks to the recession and the multiple hassles of personality management. "Today, prime time across all channels is full of soaps", points out Kohli, justifying In House's current love affair with the genre. "However", she insists, "We are more in the quality game rather than the numbers game," stressing that the focus would still remain on producing well made programmes rather than just TRP raking shows. The company has set its sights on the regional channels, as "that is where the market is developing right now."

A one-hour horror serial that aired on Zee
The frenetic pace that has been set in motion is the result of the efforts of the team, headed by Uday Sinhwala, who took over a few months ago. The results of the new programming strategy will start reaping dividends shortly, says Kohli. In House has maintained a 35 per cent growth since its inception in 1997, she says. Although revenues that hovered around Rs 250 million last year may not see
an equivalent spurt at the end of this fiscal, the

company is nevertheless maintaining a stable growth, she says.

In House has already canned 1,200 hours of programming and plans to produce 300 more this year. With state-of-the-art infrastructure including an air-conditioned studio rented out to B4U, a chroma studio, linear and non-linear editing bays and dubbing and preview theatres, it is now a 'complete production house'.

All it needs now are soaring TRPs for the plethora of programs it plans to unleash on audiences.

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