Sahara plans primetime facelift in 2004

MUMBAI: Malini Iyer may well have been merely the teaser that will herald a programming revamp at Sahara Manoranjan this year.

According to Sahara's programming vice president Triptii Sharma, the channel is attempting a total revamp in the prime time slot, thereby encouraging habitual and long term viewing. "We are working towards the content which will coax the viewers to the channel for more. Currently we have a plan for this year and are working on big properties with lots of programme concepts which are in the pipeline," she says.

Apart from the much talked about Bimal Mitra creation Sahib Biwi Gulam starring film actor Raveena Tandon, a period classic that will go on air in March-April, Sahara Manoranjan is experimenting with many more genres. Raat Hone Ko Hai weans the thriller specialist B P Singh from Sony to Sahara. This one is expected to launch latest by May. Also on the cards is an 'experimental journal with filmstar Jackie Shroff', a surprise package that could launch by mid 2004.

Cinevistaas, which earlier did the period series Draupadi for Sahara, is back with a romantic triangle, Saathiya - Pyar Ka Naya Ehsaas, scheduled again for Q1 2004-05. According to Sharma, two other shows in the offing are Aavishkar - Ek Rakshak, a science fiction show and Ruby Duby Hub Dub, a children's adventure and a variety entertainment show. Also in the pipeline is Jaal Jadu Janardan, another show for kids.

Says Sharma, "We are also planning a comedy band with shows from reputed production houses, a film band, Hometheatre - a fantasy adventure, as well as a music-based game show."

And of course, there is the Hema Malini starrer, Kamini Damini and a long talked about show with film legend Amitabh Bachchan that may also take off late this year.

As for the Sridevi starrer Malini Iyer, Sharma says the response has been 'very positive'. Using an episodic theme, Sahara has tried to pitch the character Malini above Sridevi the star. "We have made news with Sridevi. Now, we want to create that dent," she says. As for the 2003 big ticket showKarishma, the Miracles of Destiny that has not really changed the fate of the channel as expected, Sharma says the channel has made the essential changes in the story and the screenplay, among other changes. As for the future of the serial, Sharma says, "The show will go on till the mandatory completion of 260 episodes." Sahara had last year announced that Karishma.... would have a definite run of 260 episodes and would not continue any show for the sake of TRPS.

Commenting on the innovative programming strategy that Sahara is toying with, Sharma says, "The idea is to bring in some path-breaking programmes that provide different fare. The basic focus is towards building a very strong prime time band."

After the primary focus of building the primetime is met, Sharma says the channel will move towards bolstering the Sunday morning slot as well as the afternoons.

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