Will Sanjivani be Star's lifeline for 2002?

If a show takes up the time slot occupied earlier by the celebrated gameshow Kaun Banega Crorepati, it better be BIG! That seems to be the line that Star Plus has taken by pulling out all stops to ensure that its new weekly soap Sanjivani grabs eyeballs in a big way.

The one-hour show, produced by Cinevista Communications, and airing 9 - 10 pm on Wednesdays, is definitely not cutting any corners in scale or concept. Spread out over 18,000 square feet of space in a suburban studio is a permanent hospital set that has taken over Rs 10 million to put up. The standard betacam has been given the go-by; the entire filming and editing is done digitally. The cost of digital beta filming is four times that of the betacam (which hovers around Rs 3000 per episode) and the resultant picture quality 20 times better. Each episode of the series that explores the human side of hospital life costs over Rs 1 million to produce, avers Cinevista creative director Siddharth.

Set designer Omung Kumar has created a hospital set that is stylish, colourful and very hip - very unlike a hospital, but one with a 'hopeful feel', says director Kaushik Ghatak (because it is loosely based on Chicago Hope?). A veteran of such hit serials like Kyunkii and ShhhKoi Hai, Ghatak says Sanjivani has the potential to tap a variety of emotions and relationships in the wider canvas of hospital life. Authenticity has been maintained to the last detail in buying original operating and scanning equipment and infrastructure worth millions. Cinevista has also retained a panel of around eight doctors who advise the crew on medical terms and shots. Ghatak says the team spent eight months of research on assimilating 800 case files from various hospitals to ensure that the incidents portrayed have a ring of truth to them.

And for some star appeal, middle-rung Bollywood actor Mohnish Behl has been signed on for a central character in the serial.

Star Plus too is ensuring that the investment in the series fetches due returns. Hoardings and innovative front and back page advertisements in major English and regional language newspapers marked the launch of the serial. The channel tried another innovative promotion - distributing Band-Aid medicated strips in local trains in Mumbai on launch day (yesterday), stamped with the Sanjivani logo to get the medicine message across.

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