Sony plans integrated marketing buzz around 'Batliwallas'

MUMBAI: Comedy chat show Batliwalla House No 43, Sony Entertainment Television India's Friday slot replacement for its big-ticket reality show Indian Idol, is ready and waiting for its 25 February take off.

As already reported on, the comedy, an Indian adaptation of the BBC show The Kumars at No. 42, will air every Friday at 9 pm.



Sony is doing an integrated marketing campaign around this. The channel will use bus-backs in a big way. Sony marketing head Tushar Shah explains that this move will enable the message to get out quicker. There will also be radio spots as well as print ads. The channel will also adopt the SMS route. On air a campaign has been done which is airing on Sony and Max.

Online, a page will be dedicated on Sony's site to the show. Shah added that once the show is four to five weeks old then below the line activity will kick in. This will include tying up with popular youth hangouts.



As reported earlier, the Indian Punjabi family in the original series has been substituted with a typical crazy fun loving Parsi family that runs a bakery. For the uninitiated, the show sees the main protagonist Shahrukh Batliwalla hosting a chat show in a makeshift studio. The studio had previously served as a toilet . He dreams of achieving stardom. Each episode will feature two guests. Among the celebs who are scheduled to feature on the show are cricketer Harbhajan Singh, Max's cricket host Mandira Bedi as well as Bollywood actors like Anupam Kher. The humour comes from Shah Rukh's family members interacting with the guests and saying unusual things.

Talking about the show Sony executive VP and business head Tarun Katial says, "This show allows us to offer a complete mix on Friday Night. Shows like CID and Crime Patrol have worked for us. We wanted the show to have a uniquely Parsi look to it. Therefore we chose relatively unknown actors that viewers are not familiar with. Famous faces would not have helped us. There has been a lull in the comedy genre over the past few years on account of the quality of writing. However, Hats Off Productions which is producing the show for us has shown that with innovation comedy can work and attract an audience."

Hats Off Productions producer Jamnadas Majethia added that there was a lot of improvisation involved. "The questions are prepared. However very often the celebity guests give responses that are extreme. So one does not quite know what to expect. Spontaneity is key here with topics being discussed ranging from childhood secrets to a very embarassing moment. The shoot is done in one take.However we are careful not to get controversial. That is because we want guests to just chill out and have fun. If they get uncomfortable then the mood changes."



On The Set: The beautfully recreated house includes a porch, a Sony television and the set where the show is filmed. What is great besides the rapport is the fact that each character has a unique way of speaking which tells the viewer about his/her character. For instance the father played by Sanjeev Vatsa is very stingy. Adopting a hilarious authoratative tone he wonders why so much money was spent on a cake from the Taj. His wife tells him, "If you only give the journalists Nankatai biscuits they will write bad things about us."

Mahabanu Modi Kotwal has a ball playing the grandmother that Meera Syal made so memorable in the BBC show. The guest in question is Jamnadas Majethia. She begs to be allowed to tug at his moustache as it is far better than the one her grandfather had. To his credit Mjethia showed an admirable sense of humour when asked where his hat literally was.

Majethia added that another unqiue facet of the show is that each episode has an issue that serves as an under current. For instance one episode deals with the lack of water. There has been no water in the home for the past few days and the family is trying to make sure that the guest is not aware of the fact that Shah Rukh has not had a bath. In between the questions and asnwers there are subtle and sometimes not so subtle references made to the problem.

Katial said that depending on the response the show gets, the channel would decide on its future positioning to whether keep the show in the comedy segment or as a show that combines comedy with a soap opera. Sony CEO Kunal Dasgupta who was present said that Indian Idol would be back for a second season in the latter part of the year.

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