Television

Diwali rush for concepts, slots and TRPs

Indian television‘s Hindi general entertainment space is at its aggressive best.As the market is about to enter its ‘harvest‘ season -- with the big stakes game of Diwali placed just a month away -- there is a thunderstorm brewing on the programming battlefront.

Late last month, when Zee TV pointed a finger at Star India, making a serious charge of copyright infringement, the incident had given away the plot of the big fight coming up. Zee Telefilms issued a notice to Star demanding it withdraw all activities around its upcoming soap, tentatively titled Betiyaan, claiming ownership of the concept. Zee said it was in fact gearing up to launch its big ticket soap Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyann, produced by Creative Eye.

Star dismissed Zee‘s charges, asserting that the show‘s writer Rekha Modi had registered the titles and the concept with various copyright bodies well before Zee made its own registration.

According to market sources, the issue finally got resolved through an out-of-court settlement. Zee retained its original title Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyann title, whereas Star chose the name Betiyaan apni yaa…Paraaya Dhan.

Now, compare the storylines, as offered by both the channels:



Betiyaan apni yaa…Paraaya Dhan is the story of six daughters and one son born into a Zamindar family of Neelkanth Chanda Rana. It is the story of a father who rebukes his daughters because for him they are a burden. They have come into his life only for want of a son. Krishna, the eldest daughter and the protagonist, is based on Lord Krishna‘s character and personifies his depth of wisdom and understanding. A simple, honest and principled girl, she is the balancing factor amongst her sisters. Paraaya Dhan may be considered the story of many a home in India where it is believed that a son will take the family name further and a daughter is Paraya Dhan, states a Star India release.

According to the Zee official communiqué, Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyann is Zee TV‘s steadfast attempt to address the ever-persistent issue of gender discrimination in our country. The show highlights certain myths that exist in our society today. States Zee TV programming head Ashvini Yardi on the Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyann, "With Ghar Ki Lahsmi... we are trying to highlight the serious issue of gender inequity that is prevalent in our society."

And it is again strategies and counter strategies. On 19 September, Zee TV conducted a press conference to announce its plans to launch Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyann -- set in a Gujarati household -- on 25 September. On 18 September, Star made the smart move of talking to the media about its October launch Paraaya Dhan well in advance. Apart from the plot, what was revealed was the time slot of 9 pm, Monday to Thursday. The result: Star could let the market know about the development a day in advance.

What makes both these Betiyaan shows keenly fought properties? With Ghar Ki Lakshmi Betiyann, Zee TV is attacking one of the two most crucial time slots of Star Plus - 10 pm, where the long running soap Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki is playing. Letting the Zee TV do what it had done in the 9 pm - 10 pm slot (with success stories Saath Phere & Kassamh Se) would be suicidal for Star Plus and the channel understands that fact very well.

"Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki is an old show with a dedicated viewership and we are confident of the soap overcoming any new challenge in its way. But we will make efforts to protect the show. I am not hinting that we will be doing stunts to keep the viewer glued. We will be taking liberties that the story line would allow and accordingly, we will be creating twists and turns in the plot to fight competition," Star India senior creative director Shailja Kejriwal says.

"The main strength of Ghar Ki Lakshmi... is its content and we have full faith in it. The soap is very important for us. Creative Eye is producing the show; it has been placed in the 10 pm time slot; and more importantly, we believe that the concept is very unique but very relevant. No counter strategy would be able to stop this soap," retorts Zee TV‘s Yardi. She adds that Zee wouldn‘t be resorting to any exercise such as simultaneous premiere on its network channels to expand the viewership.

And one show that will be making its best efforts for not getting caught in this exchange of fire would be Sony‘s brand new celebrity dance show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. Reason: Jhalak.. again has been placed in the crucial slot of 10 pm, Wednesday and Thursday.

It seems the leading channels are almost done with their key Diwali arrangements. With the introduction of Ghar Ki Lakshmi... in the 10 pm slot, Zee TV has revamped its 10 - 11 pm slot. L‘il Champs will now air Friday-Saturday at 10 pm. Shabaash India has been shiifted to the Monday -Tuesday 10.30 pm slot, while Johny Aala Re will now air on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10.30 pm.

Star One is meanwhile revamping its prime time band as well, with the entry of Nach Baliye 2 on 25 September (placed in the 8:30 pm slot) and the launch coincides with the Ghar Ki Lakshmi... launch in terms of dates. In October, two other soaps Saathi Re and Betiyaan apni yaa…Paraaya Dhan will mark the launch of new primetime programming band, with Saathi Re airing at 8:30 pm followed by Betiyaan apni yaa…Paraaya Dhan at 9 pm.

After Jhalak.., Sony‘s Diwali plans would revolve around two upcoming properties: a prime time soap Kaajaal and a reality-based show titled Big Boss. Though the channel is yet to reveal its plans about these two shows, indications are that they will be placed in the 9 to 10 pm slot.

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