Sony's romantic gamble with the 9:30 pm slot

MUMBAI: From 9:30 pm onwards this independence day, Sony Entertainment Television has ambitions to gives to its viewers a breath of fresh air. How? Well! One, the channel launches its new series Kehta Hai Dil…Jee Le Zara and two through this show, it brings back the queen of romance on TV, Sangeeta Ghosh.

"Sony stands for hope, aspirations and happiness and so does the show," says SET chief operating officer N.P Singh. Sony which aims at strengthening its fiction genre is continuously looking at fresh concepts. "We were looking for content which was different and we came across this. It was relatable and real, like most of our shows. It is a kind of story that you will see Sony doing," he adds.

Kehta Hai Dil…Jee Le Zara is a story of Saanchi who is modern yet traditional. "It is a simple concept and has evolved very much from everyday stories. Today, for a lot of women, marriage may not be the first preference," says Rose Audio Visuals producer Shristhi Arya, who is known for doing off beat and sophisticated soaps like Lipstick, Guns and Roses, Remix, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na and Twinkle Beauty Parlour.

"With increasing aspirations, both love and marriage are pushed aside. Also the fact that a lot of interaction takes place among colleagues who are of different age groups, falling in love with a younger man is easier," says Arya explaining the storyline. Arya feels that television has the responsibility to reflect the sign of the times "And this is a sign of 'A' particular zone of people," she adds.

Sony stands for hope, aspirations and happiness and so does the show, says N.P Singh

The show will be replacing Parvarish which currently runs in the 9:30 pm slot. "Parvarish has been on air for the past two years and has had a successful tenure. The time was right to replace it with a newer and fresher show," informs Sony EVP & business head Sneha Rajani. Apparently, both the channel and the producer feel that the new show's storyline has a fit with the aspirational needs of the core Sony viewer. "Through Sony I have got a platform which has the exact audience that I am looking for my soap," informs Arya.


The story is about a family living in the beautiful hill station of Panchgani. "It was the script that excited me the most. It is a simple story of simple characters and this is what got me to direct the soap," reveals show director Siddharth Sengupta who has earlier helmed dramas like Balika Vadhu and Ek Chabhi Pados Mein.

The crew which started filming in end-July has recreated the feel of Panchgani in Film City located in Goregaon in Mumbai. "We are shooting 12-13 hours daily and have currently shot approximately six episodes. We need to build a bank, because once the show goes on air we will be only meeting deadlines," reveals Sengupta.

Shristhi Arya feels that television has the responsibility to reflect the sign of the times we are in

The main protagonists are Sangeeta Ghosh (Des Mein Niklla Hoga Chand fame) and Ruslaan Mumtaz who made his debut in Bollywood through Mera Pehla Pehla Pyaar. While Ghosh plays Saanchi, Mumtaz will be seen as Dhruv. The other characters are Sulabha Deshpande and Meenakshi Sethi, who will play the two grandmothers, Delnaz Irani who plays Dilshad, Nabeel Ahmed will be seen as Advait and Priyanka Sidana will be seen as Prachi. The story has been written by Niranjan Iyengar and the screenplay and dialogues are by Arjun and Purva respectively. The main sponsor for the show is L'oreal Paris Total Repair 5.

Sony is using a 360 degree marketing campaign to lure in audiences to the channel. The channel has appointed MOMS Outdoor Media Solutions for managing OOH activities. "We will be marketing the show on TV, radio, print, digital and also hoardings," informs Rajani. The channel has shot three promos and also shot three to four countdown promos, which are airing currently. Apart from this, the marketing campaign will also involve a print ad on the day the show goes on air.

The show is a clutter breaker, says Sneha Rajani

The show will face stern competition from Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai on Star Plus, Qubool Hai on Zee TV and Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuchh Kaha: Season 2 on Colors. Does Sony have any strategy to deal with this competition, answers Singh, "Well, competition is a reality. Within the very aggressive competitive market, you have to differentiate the niche. Sony in its last 17 years has always run shows which are different from the rest and that has set us apart and we continue to follow that strategy."

With reality shows working better for Sony, why add another fiction soap in the already cluttered fiction genre? Says Rajani, "We consciously decided two years back to focus more on fiction shows. We had gone a little weak in capturing viewers in the fiction space and so decided to focus more on the fiction genre."

"Also we currently have two reality shows Indian Idol Junior and Comedy Circus running on our channel. Kaun Banega Crorepati will also hit TV screens soon. All this leaves us with no space for any more reality shows," she adds.

So what's new in the soap that will help it get good TVTs? "It is a clutter breaker. From the time the promos went up, I have been receiving messages from people who can relate to this story. It is not drama, but the journey of an independent, yet responsible woman," comments Rajani.

"Fiction today is the mainstay for every GEC. People want to see fresh content. Now how well the programme does depends on its content and whether it has been able to add some freshness to it. If it can engage its audiences, it will surely do well," says Madison Media Group, Bangalore COO Dinesh Rathore.

The channel will soon see a row of new soaps replacing the current ones. But for this slot, it is surely placing a big bet that viewers will bite. Will keeping the show simple for people to believe in it, help the channel record increased TVTs? With the channel falling off to the fifth position in this general entertainment channel space, Sony must surely be praying it will.

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