The Katial Mystery: Quo Vadis?

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: Is former Star India senior vice-president, programming, content and communication, Tarun Katial joining rival Sony Entertainment TV India? The buzz has been that he is.

When contacted Sony India top honchos, most of them, however, refused to confirm or deny the move, saying they were on a holiday.

Tarun Katial back in action?

But a senior executive in the company did admit today --- might be the Christmas cheer was too infectious and the person didn't want to disappoint us --- that negotiations have been held with Katial.

Still, the executive added, " Talks have been held with him (Katial), but no contractual deals have been signed yet. So, there is nothing formal and final about the whole affair."

When Katial was contacted today, he cried off the whole issue saying that he wanted his privacy, adding that he would not like to comment on the matter.

What is more important is that this Sony executive hinted that Katial --- "if and when he joins" --- would do so in a senior post in the programming team of executive vice president Sunil Lulla

A story doing the rounds earlier was that Katial had been made a plum offer from Sahara India, which he did not take up even after some meetings with the senior management. Another tale has it that he is going to head a film financing fund, which would invest in good movies. A third was that he would set up shop himself in a consultative capacity to whoever wanted it in television.

The Sony story gained in credence when the executive creative director Rajesh Devraj quit last month. Industry watchers viewed his departure as a clean up of Sony's programming operations in preparation for Katial's 


Following that, a bunch of Sony's programming executives holed up in Sony's Culver City's, (California US headquarters) to plan the way forward for the network following the major successes that Jassi has notched up.

Rumour has it that Katial was very much present at these meetings, something that he denied to saying he was actually in London.

Katial would be one of the many additions and changes in the Sony India family; that is, if he finally ends up joining the company. Incidentally, Sony India has planned some big announcements to be made on or around 15 January.

According to Sony sources, some more people - mostly those who haven't had any exposure in the media industry - would also be joining the family in the ad sales and marketing divisions. Reason being that Sony India has targeted 2004 as a year when it wants to capitalize on the success of Jassi and chart out a new growth path.

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