MUMBAI: Ask anyone in Indian television land, and you will be told that it is only the woman viewer who can unlock the door to the TRP treasure trove. Following that logic, Sony Entertainment Television's programming strategy is clear-cut! Strengthen women loyalty and build the viewership base by offering shows that progress beyond mere stereotypes.
Towards that end SET India business head Sunil Lulla announced today the launch of two new shows which promise to do just that. One, a soap titled Devi with heavy dollops of religiosity thrown in and the other, a comedy with elements of fantasy called Meri Biwi Wonderful. The latter show is the Indian version of the popular sitcom Bewitched from Columbia Tristar International Television.
SET's NEW SLOGAN 'AB AAYEGA MAZZAA'
Said Lulla: "In late July SET unveiled a slew of programme initiatives under the banner "Hot N Fresh". Now our new programmes are being promoted by the slogan "Ab Aayega Mazzaa" (now the fun will start). This is to tell the viewer that the channel is the place not just for the serious viewer but also where you can have a lot of fun. With K3H we introduced interactivity and with Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqueeqat we looked to strengthen our weekend programming line-up. One of the shows that we are launching - Devi - is a step in that direction. We are looking to strengthen our weekend franchise which also includes thrillers like Achanak. To usher in the new season we have brought in a golden yellow colour look to the background."
'KKUSUM' TO AIR 4 DAYS A WEEK
Devi will air every Friday at 9 pm from 20 September and revolves around Gayatri played by Saakshi Tanwar of Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki fame. An astrologer predicts that this vulnerable woman orphaned at an early age will die at the hands of her husband played by Mohnish Behl who also hosts Bachke Rehnaa on the channel. Lulla said: "Devi is a woman-centric story dealing with oppression, relationships and human faith in divinity." The launch of Devi will also mark the conversion of Sony's top soap Kkusum into a from five episodes per week to four a week. Kkusum currently airs Mondays through to Fridays at 9 pm.
'DEVI' 1st TV SHOW OF AJAY DEVGAN'S PRODUCTION HOUSE
The show marks the first foray of Devgan Software and Television Footprints Production into the realm of television production. Film star promoter Ajay Devgan said: "In India everyone be he/she educated or uneducated, believes in some kind of supernatural power. We pray to many gods and goddesses and I thought that this was an interesting theme to explore in a modern and contemporary setting. What is unique about the show is that it shows the conflict between faith and destiny. Will Gayatri's faith in Goddess Durga prevent what fate has in store for her is the question that will intrigue audiences."
Also present was Head of Creative SET Saurabh M Vanzara. He said: "With Devi Sony is looking to mix the popular genres of the soap and the mythological. We want to demystify the concept of God by bringing it to a more down to earth level so that it doesn't merely exist in a vacuum. Mohnish Behl is very effective in conveying a man who in the beginning is seen in a negative light. He is struggling to come to terms with himself and the rapidly changing circumstances. Although good must eventually prevail the audience is constantly unsure of the direction that he is coming from and I admire the commitment he has given to the role. Our future programmes will include a healthy mix of weeklies and dailies. With a daily one tends to focus more on the character. With a weekly one concentrates on the story to give the audience a broader perspective. We will focus on the woman through shows, which go beyond her role as a housewife and as a family member. We will look at her role as an individual and place in modern day society."
The director of Devi is Anant Mahadevan whose resume includes The Sword of Tipu Sultan, Chingari. He said: "Veterans like us have seen the direction in which television has progressed from 1984 till now. I remember the days when we could take three days to shoot one episode. Now we have just one day. I would say that Devi is love in the time of cholera, a weekly in the time of dailies. The frequency of dailies became too hot for some of us to handle. That is why I took a break from television for a year. However, with Devi we have been able to improve the quality of programming by taking the television out of the drawing room and into the outdoors."
SITCOM 'MERI BIWI WONDERFUL' INDIAN VERSION OF 'BEWITCHED'
The second show that SET announced mixes comedy with elements of fantasy. Meri Biwi Wonderful is also a weekly starting on 19 September at 8 pm and will air every Thursday. It is the Indian version of the popular sitcom Bewitched. Three years ago a Mexican version of the show came out.
The story deals with Raj who falls for Angela not knowing that she has magical powers. He takes a promise from her that she will stop practicing magic completely. Needless to say she finds the temptation of using magic to settle awkward situations irresistible. Speaking on the initiative Lulla said: "A light hearted comedy Meri Biwi Wonderful aims at tugging the heartstrings of people across all age groups. With this show we have added a new dimension towards our goal of providing wholesome family entertainment to viewers."
The producer is Asit Modi who formed Neela Telefillms. He said: "It is a situational comedy in which elements of love and affection have been highlighted. Most sitcoms are limited to dialogue or stand up routines. This show has elements of happiness and sadness. The trick for us is to find the magic in between."
Also present was actress Tanaaz Currim. She said, "My last serial was Kal Bhi tho Milenge. Laughter has been missing on the television for a year. To be a wife who spreads happiness to all those who surround her is a refreshing change from the current scenario. Too often one sees women depressed, deprived, crying. We have done our best to stick with the original format. Of course the jokes have been tailored to suit Indian tastes." .