Star Parivar Awards - taking viewer connect to new heights?

MUMBAI: Now this is what is called reel life awards. In possibly a first for television anywhere in the world, India's lead entertainment channel Star Plus is planning an awards night for the most popular characters (not actors please note) in their top shows.

Viewers' choice awards will be handed out in a number of categories --- for favourite husband, wife, grandfather, grandmother, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, son, sister-in-law.

Star India senior V-P content and communication Tarun Katial told that the Star Parivar Awards kick off on Saturday, 14 June with a half-hour nomination special at 8 pm detailing the categories, entry mechanism, anchor tips, etc.

The following four Saturdays (21 June to 12 July) will have Parivar Awards special episodes slotted in the 8-8:30 pm band that will cover public opinions, panel discussions, nominee interviews, producer comments, behind the scenes of shows, viewer reactions and behind the scenes with winners. All episodes, including the awards night event on 5 July, will be hosted by Aman Verma. The 12 july episode will be a post-event wrap-up show.

These are some of the characters viewers will be asked to vote for.

Viewers will be able to vote across 25 categories through mail, the Net, phone lines and SMS. The aim -- to select Star Plus' "first family" (the Star Parivaar) that will comprise the favourite characters from its hit serials.

Star hopes to make this an annual affair, says Katial. And it is putting the considerable weight of its other media platforms (Star News and Radio City) as well as an extensive marketing and PR campaign behind the awards that involves widespread coverage of the event across print media throughout the month of June.

A unique feature of the event are the different families canvassing for "their own" as it were, urging viewers to vote for members of their respective "parivaars".

Audience participation will not be restricted to just voting. To increase interactivity, the Star Plus team will be airing reactions from viewers on their favourite characters.

As for the "big night itself", the awards event will be hosted by Aman Verma and Gul Panag and will have performances by the lead characters from the various serials in addition to the usual song and dance routines and "item numbers".

The question is will all this effort pay dividends in terms of viewer connect? Hark back to Mihir Virani of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and the breast-beating that took place when Hindi entertainment television's favourite son was "bumped off". Such was the furore that he was resurructed soon enough. Cut to the man who played the character -- Amar Upadhya. When Upadhya upped and left the medium that made him - television - for the glitz and glamour of Bollywood, there was nary a flutter in the Hindi hausfrau's heart.

Working on that logic, a Star Parivar Awards would do that something extra to get viewers even more involved with the characters in their favourite shows. And with all the uncertainties that the post-CAS scenario is throwing up, it might just make the Star Plus connect that crucial bit more embedded in the consciousness of Hindi-speaking audiences. The tag line for the event sums it up well -- "Aap Ka Parivaar... Star Parivaar" (your family... Star family).

Is it just a coincidence that the last episode (on 12 July) of the Star Parivar Awards series airs just two days before the CAS rollout deadline of 14 July? Maybe, maybe not.

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