Paresh Rawal show to debut with Malini Iyer on Sahara

MUMBAI: This time round, Sahara Manoranjan is playing it safe.

The channel's big ticket show of the year, the Sridevi starrer Humari Bahu Malini Iyer, that kicks off on 19 January, will be telecast twice a week, Mondays and Tuesdays at 9 pm. Unlike most other soaps on rival channels, the half hour show is being innovatively slotted, a programming strategy undertaken thus far only by Sab TV.

To debut the same week and in a similar style is Paresh Rawal's Bhagwan Bachaye, a comedy constructed on similar lines as Rawal's earlier production Shubh Mangal Savdhan, the reasonably popular comedy show that wound up mid 2003. Bhagwan Bachaye will air Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9 pm. Both Malini Iyer and Bhagwan Bachaye will precede Karishma - The Miracles of Destiny, the Karisma Kapoor starrer that was expected to set the ratings on fire, but has thus far not managed to stoke up much warmth. Karishma though has picked up slowly in the TRP stakes and the channel expects the two forthcoming soaps to lure in more viewers for Sahara's primetime.

Promotions for the Sridevi show are set to rival those that marked the first launch of Karishma, though officials are loath to put a figure to the promotional activity. At least 150 hoardings have gone up across the country, most replacing the earlier Karishma ads. Between 150 to 200 cinema theatres in India currently airing the Sanjay Dutt starrer Munnabhai MBBS have the Malini Iyer promos running, as Sahara TV president Satish Menon believes that the movie watching public would be potential keen viewers of the Sridevi soap.

A fresh on air campaign is ready to kick off next Monday on Sahara Manoranjan, succeeding the teaser campaign that had Malini as a sihoutte on a green background, with the tagline 'Malini Iyer aa rahee hai', while 60 30-feet cutouts of Malini Iyer are shortly going up at vantage points in 10 cities, says Menon. This is in addition to a massive postering exercise launched to familiarise the viewer with Malini, and a mobile van exercise targeting Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and the rest of Maharashtra (excluding Mumbai) that will have dishes downloading satellite signals to enable passersby to view the channel as well as promos of Malini Iyer.

An innovative tack are Malini Iyer tablemats with contests printed on them, distributed to nearly 850 to 900 restaurants throughout the country, as also hoardings that have been taken up down South for the first time as a Sridevi show is likely to generate interest in a territory otherwise averse to Hindi soaps.

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