Sony hopes soaps will do for the near term

It's all about strategy. If Zee tried the "its raining serials" approach as part of its relaunch, Sony Entertainment believes in building the brand "brick by brick", as SET CEO Kunal Dasgupta puts it.

And if strategies are important so are catchlines. And Sony's is the 'T strategy' with its focus on prime time viewing. The strategy aims at capturing viewer interest in the two and half hour time band during which people watch TV daily, according to Nachiket Pantvaidya, vice president, programming and production, SET India. Nine - 10 PM from Mondays to Thursdays and 8 - 11 PM on Fridays are the time bands the channel will target in the coming months. This will be done by airing a plethora of soap operas in these focussed bands.

The stress would be on general entertainment, but a re-assessment of the situation would be undertaken in January 2002, according to Dasgupta. "We would not like to hit the market with multiple shows in one go, but would prefer to launch new programmes in a phased manner," he said at a press conference on Monday. Sony's flop celebrity game show, Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke, meanwhile, will be taken off air from 16 November after completing 75 episodes. A new game show, either homegrown or licensed, is also on the cards in the next six months.

Among the 10 soaps that will shortly go on air is Kutumb, a Balaji production, that will be telecast at 9.30 PM from Monday to Thursday.

Unlike Kkusum and Star's Kyunki Saas?, Kutumb, another Ekta Kapoor concept, treads a slightly different track although it remains firmly in the Indian extended family domain. There is a spoilt rich brat whose efforts to woo a determined, morally upright girl are all in vain till he manipulates matters so that they have to get married. The 'saas-bahu' feuds have been brought into the 'husband-wife' domain. The family determined not to accept the daughter-in-law in the fold, her efforts to maintain her dignity while seeking love and affection are the tangles that Kutumb seeks to unravel. Ekta's own one-liner for the serial, meanwhile, is "They hated each other so they married each other".

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