‘Everest’ will break the clutter like ‘Mahabharat’: Nikhil Madhok

MUMBAI: A regular girl’s struggle to win her father’s acceptance is a story which we have all seen on television screens, but what differentiates this one from the others is the treatment.

Set against extraordinary background of the magnificent Mount Everest, the upcoming show, ‘Everest’, on Star Plus aims to create history.

Star India CEO Uday Shankar believes that the channel has always aimed to bring audiences, innovative content that takes the Indian television viewing experience to the next level and Everest is another big leap in that direction.

He says, “We are proud to have partnered with a visionary like Ashutosh Gowariker who is one of the most adept story-tellers of our country. ‘Everest’ is a stunning visual delight and an attempt at presenting something never-seen-before to our viewers. I am sure that the story of our protagonist Anjali will resonate with millions in India and inspire them to conquer their own Everest.”

In the same not, the channel’s general manager Gaurav Banerjee adds, “The series will re-define how television is made in this country considering its visual appeal and the way it will be presented.”

Produced under Ashutosh Gowariker Productions (AGPPL) banner, the show is in line with the number one GEC’s strategy of offering innovative and differentiated content, it has been conceptualised, shot and presented on a scale never seen before on TV.

With the use of a lot of heavy technical equipments like GoPro cameras, 4K technology and a lot more, 90 per cent of the show has already been canned in locations like Jodhpur, Mount Everest, NIM and Mumbai.

The concept took shape in Gowariker’s mind about two years ago where he was confused between two themes. “First was about a girl child, about women empowerment and the other theme was about a sport that was not much talked about (mountaineering). I was not getting anywhere in terms of both the scripts. Then I thought why not to combine the two themes into one.”

He further says that the whole idea of the show actually began with an insight that what are you willing to do for your dreams? A project of this scale demands a cast who will do complete justice to the roles endowed on them and Gowariker hand-picked the actors for each role after an extensive search.

The series has brought together some of the finest artistes from both Bollywood and the Indian television industry. The show launches Shamata Anchan as Anjali Singh Rawat, the gutsy girl who is willing to climb Mt Everest in order to win her father’s love and respect. The two male leads of the show are Sahil Salathia as Arjun Sabharwal and Rohan Gandotra as Akash Joshi. The stellar cast also includes Suhasini Mulay, Mohan Kapoor, Milind Gunaji, Rajat Kapoor, Kishori Shahane and Manish Choudhary.

And hence, the channel is pulling all its marketing muscles out to create buzz for it. The show emanates from a belief that everyone has a personal Everest they aspire to conquer, however the question is how far are they willing to go to conquer it?  

Keeping this in mind it will launch a campaign asking viewers, #WhatsYourEverest. “We want to make this show feel very relevant to the audiences. People should not feel that this is a show about a mountaineering expedition,” states the channel’s SVP marketing Nikhil Madhok.

The on-air promos talk about cancer patients winning over their Everest as they fight the disease, sports personnel making into the Indian team as they overcome their Everest. “This is the thought that we are building and we have activated this thought in digital and radio to establish to people that while the show is about Anjali’s journey, it is relevant to everybody,” answers Madhok.

For the first time on television, a two and half minute theatrical promo has been made for a television series and while this will play on Star Plus at 7.58 pm on 18 October, it will also break in theatres with Shah Rukh Khan starrer ‘Happy New Year’.

The channel has tied up with some of the outlets of Costa Coffee and has created an ‘Everest’ zone there wherein the temperature would be at just 5 degrees and waiters will serve the customers cold coffee wearing jackets. Customers will also be given a jacket when they enter the coffee shop and will find snow on the ground. Starting from 22 October, the activity will take place throughout the day for couple of weekends across various cities. “Basically the idea is to make sure that people get an experience of how Everest feels like,” says Madhok.

It has also tied up with Fair and Lovely foundation and through the course of the series the channel will invite people, especially young women to write about an Everest in their life and will help them in conquering it.

“That assistance could be anything – be it in terms of counselling or monetary assistance. It could be in face of education, somebody wants to get money to become a doctor, somebody wants to actually climb Mount Everest but don’t know how to fund the course. So, we will help them in these things,” reveals Madhok. For a certain set of lucky winners, the channel will help them achieve their Everest.

The extensive 360 degree marketing campaign includes not just the entire Star Network and 30 other channels, but also activations on radio, outdoor innovations including 3D hoardings. It will be aggressively available in print as well and a huge presence on digital including the YouTube masthead and page takeovers in MSN and Yahoo.

The new series will replace the on-going Sooraj Barjatia’s show - Pyaar Ka Dard Meetha Meetha Pyaara Pyaara, which has been constantly delivering good ratings at the TAM ratings chart and will air at 10 pm.

Both Madhok and Banerjee believe that the last year has been good for the channel. “Most of the slots that we operate are the slot leaders. Wherever we would have put this show, it would have replaced a well-performing show,” says Madhok.

Agreeing to Madhok, Banerjee adds: “At 10 pm, what we felt was that some of our iconic shows in the past have come at 10 pm and all the shows have worked wonders for us.”

Madhok goes on to say that it did not do so much of number crunching and analysis because between 8-10 pm the audiences available are very similar. “Differences that you see are in very early prime time and LC1 markets are bigger. Those audiences sleep off at 10.30. Outside of that for us, all the slots are very viable.”

The channel wanted to launch the show around winter and Madhok is confident that with winters coming in, people will enjoy the series more.

Star Plus has got Fair and Lovely on-board as its title sponsor. It is co-powered by Godrej Ezee while Vinod Cookware has signed up as an associate sponsor.

Talking about the ad-rate per 10-second slot, Madhok reveals that the cost of the show is significantly more expensive than anything else on the channel. “As sponsors have demonstrated, this is top quality television produced by an iconic filmmaker so people are happy to be associated and pay the premium required,” adds Madhok.

He hopes that one of the things that ‘Everest’ will do is like ‘Mahabharat’, it will break the clutter. “It will look and feel different on television. And anything that breaks the clutter is something that brands want to associate with and are also happy to pay premiums.”

“The first important thing when the show goes out is it should break the clutter and it should help in taking television agenda to the next level. Second thing is it should find a good strong loyal audience base,” responds Madhok.

Though Madhok refused to divulge any numbers, media planners feel that the ad-rate for the new series will be four times more than the average regular rates that a fiction show demands. “Rates differ a bit depending on which show and at what time. For example, a show like Diya Aur Baati Hum will be much more expensive than a show like Suhani Aisi Ladki which airs at 6.30 pm,” states a media planner.

Talking about the marketing spends; planners believe that in terms of share of marketing it will not be different from what Mahabharat demanded. Out of the total budget, planners estimate that 20 per cent would be spent on marketing.

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