'Saara Akash' continues to soar; gets year's extension

MUMBAI: Will it or won't it work? That was the niggling doubt when Saara Aakash, the show with an air force backdrop, debuted on Star Plus 7 August 2003 in the Thursday 9 pm slot.

Well, not only did Miditech's Saara Aakash fare well (although after more than just a little tweaking of the original script) on the charts but it has been given another year's extension.

"As of now, we are India's No 1 weekly in the Hindi speaking markets. In the 9 pm band, comprising Kehta Hai Dil, Sanjeevani, Des Mein Niklla Hoga Chand, we are clearly the leader. We are also ahead of Sony's Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahi and Kkusum," Miditech's producer Nikhil Alva offered.

While the show might have an air force back drop, the real reason why the show is doing well, according to the makers, is the central character Monica. "In fact, we have this punch line 'Hamari Monica Jassi Jaissi bilkul nahi' (Our Monica is not like Jassi at all)," joked Alva.

"Thursday is a competitive slot. Most of the weeklies end the week on Thursday, so it is wasn't the most conducive spot for the show. We have successfully fended the competition in that slot. Be it against Jassi.. . or the movie premiers. Our target audience belongs to 14+ brackets, both male and female. Somebody who is not interested in the family dramas, which is same as that of Jassi...," Alva offered.

Despite the female protagonist, the show has a lot of aspirational value. So when the show, during its early stages, digressed on to a family track, the ratings dipped. "It was a bad judgment on our as well as the channel's part. But the mistake was immediately rectified and we have been in the top 10 shows on Star Plus ever since," insisted Alva.

What, according to the makers is the high point of the show is its theme, approach and most importantly, the characters.

"Monica's character is such that the audience can empathise with. She is a bold woman in a man's world. While she has her feminine side (she is every inch the ideal daughter), she is also driven by her mission so much so that she won't hesitate to kill someone if the need arises. Meanwhile, Sanjana's character is unlike any vamp that you see on the telly today. She is shown to be a school teacher, someone with a soft side. But despite that she is a ruthless spy. She has hers reasons to act the way she does. It is all about her love for her country, mission and the things that have happen to her in the past," explains Alva.

While it is likely that Sanjana's character will be exposed in the show and the makers might decide to introduce another negative character. One character that is going to make his entry back onto the series is that of Karan, played by Anuj Saxena. Playing on topical issues, Karan will be shown as a PoW, who makes a daring escape from the enemy dungeons.

"Despite the channel not as keen on the publicity and the promotional blitz, but the topical plot around espionage and the Indo-Pak milieu have received great feedback," Alva exhulted.

Interestingly, the high point of the show has been the episode where the central character Monica was behind enemy lines. "We showed a 15-minute chase sequence, which traditionally no one would believe works. But it has given us 13.8-14 TRP rating," gloated Alva.

But is there any likelihood that Monica might go the family way ever? "Highly unlikely," says Alva. Maybe that's for the best then. 

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