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BR Films to produce new serials for DD, Sahara TV

MUMBAI: The original mytho moghul is looking to tread new ground. BR Films is producing four new serials: Dhristi and Kaamna on Doordarshan; Asha Nai Asha on Sahara TV and Shrimad Bhagwad to be aired on a C&S channel. 

BR TV has popular serials such as Aap Beeti which featured in seven out of the Top 10 shows on DD in 2002. Another popular serial Vishnupuran has just completed 78 episodes and features in the Top 20 list. Vishnupuran is slated to go on for at least 100 more episodes, with Nitish Bharadwaj (Krishna in Mahabharat) poised to make his entry once again as Krishna.

BR Films managing director Ravi Chopra says: "The serials provide entertainment and simultaneously highlight a social issue. Drishti questions the gender bias prevailing in Indian society and puts forth the view that women should have equal rights as men. Kaamna probes whether people still listen to their inner conscience." The slots for the telecast have not yet been finalised.

BR Films is also making Shrimad Bhagwad, a mythological which presents teachings from the Gita, and which will be telecast on a C&S channel. Sources claim the serial will be aired on Zee TV.

Asha Nai Asha on Sahara TV is a departure from the routine as it is built around the theme of scouting for talent. "There are many talented people in different parts of the country. I had conceived the theme long back and presented it to Sahara TV," adds Chopra.

BR Films has created mythos like Mahabharat that have broken several records on the television front. However, Chopra feels that mythologicals are passe. "The mythological theme has been squeezed dry and all the producers have done it to death. However, there will always be a demand for mythos and people will continue to watch them."

While BR Films, says Chopra, has always maintained high production standards, the media buying phenomenon has affected the margins and also threatened production aspects, he says.

About DD producers not getting their due from advertisers, Chopra says: "The advertisers and ad agencies conduct aggressive negotiations and bargain as if there were no tomorrow. The cost of production and DD dues work out to Rs 500,000 per 30-minute episode. This puts a severe pressure on our margins. Some producers compromise on quality but we don't do so. We recover our investments from extending the revenue streams to earnings from overseas rights."

Chopra feels that advertisers must realise that the money that they invest in serials will eventually enhance the production quality of the content. "C&S producers such as Balaji Telefilms can create an ambience of glamour and grandeur because they know that they will get compensated for the same. DD producers need to do a balancing act," he adds.

"BR Chopra's serial Aap Beeti had seven slots in the Top 10 list of DD's programmes in week 1-46 of 2002. The high TRPs ranged between 13.38 and 12.42 for this period. An Aap Beeti episode reached out to 14,33 million viewers on 3 September 2002. Balaji's Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki and Kyunki Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi could manage 7.04 million and 7.01 million viewers," says Reasonable Advertising vice-president marketing SA Khan who markets the BR TV's serials Aap Beeti and Vishnupuran.

BR Films is also producing Baghban, a feature film starring Amitabh Bachchan and Star's game-show Khulja Sim Sim host Aman Verma, which will be released in May 2003.

Chopra is still non-committal on the company's plans to get publicly listed. Till then, the focus is on creating well-made serials that scale the TRP chart.

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Media planners blamed for shrinking DD advertiser base

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