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‘On Air With AIB’ will set a new template in India: Ajit Mohan

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MUMBAI: While satire has been a large part of the Irish and British culture, closer home, the nation woke up to it with websites likes Faking News and The UnReal Times. On the video content front, mainstream mockery and ridicule touched newer heights when hearty laughs were laughed as the comedy group All India Bakchod (AIB) roasted actors Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh… well… at least until they were forcibly stifled when some inconsequential people took offence and created a hullabaloo.

Notwithstanding that, taking a cue from AIB’s popularity and its posse’s talent in satirical entertainment, Star India was quick to recognise the potential and tap into the new space by roping them in for a new satirical news show called On Air with AIB. The first episode (Hindi and English version) was unveiled on Hotstar today (29 October).

Star India digital head Ajit Mohan is of the opinion that On Air with AIB will set a new template in India.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com, Mohan said, “AIB over the years has established themselves as one of the best in what they do and it’s great to have them on board. We wanted to offer our huge youth following a series of satire news. At the same time, we also felt there can be no better option than AIB and that’s how On Air with AIB came in picture.”

On Air with AIB will have both Hindi and English versions. While the English version will be aired on Star World, Star Plus will share the Hindi feed. “We will premiere both English and Hindi firstly on Hotstar every Thursday. Then two days later on Sunday, the shows will be aired on the two respective channels,” informed Mohan.

The English version is curated by Ashish Shakya and Rohan Joshi, while Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba will be orchestrating the Hindi narrative.

In the first Hindi episode of On Air With AIB, which is titled Zaban Sambhal Ke, Khamba and Bhat wonder about why we should be good. We all hate corruption, yet whistleblowers get the raw end of the stick for calling evil out - every single time. The episode will also see Abhish Mathew talking to the Limca Book world record holder Dr K Padmarajan for losing the most elections! On the other hand, the first English episode of 25 minutes duration is titled Why Be Good? and will see Joshi and Shakya ponder over the same issue.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com, Shakya said, “The two series will have two different blends, in how they are written and presented. Despite the topic being the same, there are enough differences in the presentation for viewers to find both versions equally interesting. Hence a person who has seen the Hindi feed can also tune in to watch the English one and vice-versa.”

Since television is a community viewing medium in India, it comes with numerous guidelines and restrictions that content creators need to follow - something, which the internet based maestros AIB are hardly accustomed to. They are renowned for a blend of comedy, which complies to no rules or regulations. 

When quizzed on how they are planning to adapt with the restricted medium, Shakya replied, “The general perception is that we know only one form of comedy, which is not true. Whenever we interacted with Star, we interacted with Ajit or Uday Shankar and we always found them very likeminded, which made it very comfortable for us. On Air With AIB we will talk about important issues with a blend of satire and use our creativity to explore new dimensions. The constraints of television media will not impact the presentation at all.”

Speaking about the target audience for the show, Mohan said, “Every technology takes time to evolve and video streaming requires a certain level of bandwidth, which at this stage is mostly available in urban regions. So currently, we are targeting urban India.”

From OOH to TVC to digital, Star India is backing the initiative with a 360 degree marketing and is leaving no stones unturned to generate awareness about their new offering. The collaboration had a role to play in the marketing too as all the television commercials were executed by AIB’s new ad wing Vigyapanti. Other marketing initiatives were taken care of by Star India and its partners.

Hotstar follows a advertising led revenue model where all its content is available for free. Despite the venture’s aggressive foray into original content, it is not looking to impose a subscription based model anytime soon. “We are very happy with the position that we are in at this moment. Advertisers have been reacting well to our innovations and we are not looking to change our revenue model. We have a strong portfolio with content spread across different genres and languages,” informed Mohan.

AskMe Bazaar has been roped in as the presenting sponsor of the show, which is co-powered by Tata Motors and Idea.

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