Television

Sahara gets comedy to pep up 8 pm band

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MUMBAI: Sahara Manoranjan may still be staggering along as far as consolidating its position in the Hindi entertainment stakes is concerned, but all that could well change soon.

Sahara is all set to unleash a slew of new launches in the next quarter April-June with an emphasis on comedy.

While talks are still on for a multi-serial offering from new entrant into the television production business K Sera Sera, what is definitely in the pipeline are two sitcoms. Within a fortnight, K Sera Sera will begin shooting for two shows - one a weekly and one a daily - Aao Behan Chugli Karein (ABCK) and Kuch Kuch Kabhie Kabhie (K4). These two are expected to be the first of a number of new shows to be built around the 8 pm band that will focus on comedy.

With a prime-time face lift its top priority, the channel is all set to start rolling out other programmes to buttress the segment as well. The change will be jumpstarted by the much talked about Sahib Biwi Gulam in the last week of April, probably on 28 April. Following the Bimal Mitra creation, the channel will air thriller specialist B P Singh's Raat Hone Ko Hai and Cinevistaas' Saathiya - Pyar Ka Naya Ehsaas.

While the new programme list seems to be a good mix of all genre, the channel's focus is on comedy next. According to Sahara's programming vice president Triptii Sharma, "We already have a heady mix of programmes slotted for the year ahead, but we are also very keen on building up 8 pm comedy band. Both ABCK and K4 are the first of many that we plan to launch this year." 

Speaking to indiantelevision.com K Sera Sera managing director Parag Sanghavi offered, "Right now we are co-producing three serials with Girish Mallik's Clapstem production house. The first one to roll out will be a weekly sitcom ABCK. We start shooting for that from the first week of April. The shooting schedule for the next daily sitcom- K4, scheduled to launch in first week of June, will begin in the second week of April."

Elaborating on other projects that were being worked on with Sahara, Sanghvi said, "We have been commissioned to make 10 telemovies, of which two films are ready for release. We are also in the process of signing a 10-serial contract."

Says Clapstem founder Girish Mallik about ABCK, "It is a humourous look at upper class and upper middle class women." Boasting of an all-women star cast including Kamini Khanna, Anita Kanwal, Shruti Ulfat Bhavna Balsaveer, Loveleen Mishra, and Himani Shivpuri, the serial revolves around the lives of six 'kitty' friends. Although a similar subject is already on Zee (Manish Goswami's Kittie Party- which is about eight friends), Mallik insists that there cannot be comparisons made between the two.

"For starters, just have a look at the name! It is a humourous look at the lives of these six avid gossipmongers, who incidentally go around claiming that gossiping isn't for them. Ranging from the innocent gossiper to some one whose sole aim is to hear and spread gossip, we have them all. It is what we call 'black-gown' humour."

The producer-director of Sahara's soon to be off air patriotic show Mission Fateh, Mallik aims to take on the soap and drama staple of Hindi entertainment television head-on. "Indian audiences are mature enough to look beyond soapy-soppy sagas. After all we have had Tara, Rishtey and Banegi apni baat in the recent past."

While ABCK tackles the upper-crust problems with humour, K4 puts fun back into the term dysfunctional. Having roped in three newcomers, the daily is based on fictional tale of three school friends. Armed with skewed ideas about romance and men, the trio have their quirky share of romance. The main protagonist Leena has a 9-9 relationship with a married man twice her age, Pooja is in love with two men and Vartika is all set to marry the only guy who is ready and available since she hasn't managed to find Mr Right. In due course, all three realise their follies. There isn't an iota of vulgarity or melodrama in the serial, insists Mallik.

Interesting as these concepts sound, when queried about the shows' commercial prospects, Mallik offered, "Although either of them might not top the charts owing to the channel's current position, looking at the direction in which Sahara is moving, that could soon change." Mallik even added that both Sony and Zee were keen on K4, but Sahara was the one that booked the concept even before the pilot was shot.

Will the good times roll for Sahara...? If it can translate these good concepts into watchable fare, they just might.

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