Is supernatural a winning formula for Colors?

MUMBAI: Remember shows like Aahat aired on Sony Entertainment Television, Woh and The Zee Horror Show on Zee TV? Recall those scary faces, the revolting dead bodies, flying furniture and conjured up fires from nowhere with special effects, because that was what was usually ‘patent’ for a horror show? Well, decades after such ‘horror’ shows almost vanished from prime time, supernatural is making a big time comeback on Indian television.

The 90s of the previous century saw a few broadcasters and production houses going gaga over supernatural or horror fiction series, but after a certain period of time the genre was almost wiped off. Now, from Daayans to a shape shifting wolf to Naaginsto Makhi, Hindi GEC has recently witnessed number of aspects of the supernatural element. But only Colors seems to have cracked the supernatural code. It started with Naagin and the trend of supernatural characters after that has become unstoppable.

In the first week of its launch, the weekend fiction show Naagin overtook the top five programmes on Hindi GECs. After breaking records with Naagin, its production house Balaji Telefilm’s is all set to launch a new show Kawach… Kaali Shaktiyon Se also on Colors, yet another supernatural show based on exorcism.

An industry source close to the people involved with Naagin revealed to that the show cost is between Rs 20 - 25 lakh per episode. On the ad rates front, Naagin commands about Rs 1.5 lakh for a 10 second slot. A sources close to the channel informed that the production cost of Balaji’s Kawach has been estimated at between Rs 15-20 lakhs per episode.

Speaking on the success of Naagin Colors programming head Manisha Sharma said, “Series like Naagin are edgy, they move faster and you can experiment with them. They don’t follow the grammar of soaps. We had this 8pm slot vacant and luckily we were the first one to encash it.”

“We are truly a variety entertainment channel. We give audiences soaps like Naagin, comedy shows, reality such as India’s Got Talent and Fear Factor. Our strategy is ‘Let's put up the variety and be ahead of the game’. We were first ones to do Naagin and we will be first ones to do Kawach. There is a huge bunch of people that watch such shows and we are just trying to open up that market in India,” explained Sharma.

Speaking about the trend, a senior creative director said, “The Makhi element was used in Sasural Simar Ka to increase TRPs’ that eventually didn’t happen. If we talk about Naagin, it is just a revenge story, but it is packed with good content and strong casting. Naagin undoubtedly is a well-crafted story. “

“Supernatural characters have been used by many in their shows, but for some they didn’t work out well. Shows like Vishkanyaand Adhuri Kahani Humari failed to generate positive ratings even after using power packed VFX. Ideas can be supernatural but they need to be well crafted,” said another creative head.

From the ratings it's clear the Vishkanya launched by Zee TV on 28 March at 6.30 pm time band from Monday- Friday failed to garner positive ratings for the channel. According to the BARC data, in week 18 the show garnered 2029 Impressions ‘000s while in week 19 the channel witnessed a slight hike in ratings with 2107 Impressions ‘000s but in week 20 and week 21 ratings just nosedived with 1648 Impressions ‘000s and 1347 Impressions ‘000s respectively.

On the other hand, another Balaji show on &TV, Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum launched on 26 October at the 9.30 time slot fromMonday- Friday had to include the track of a cursed tiger with supernatural elements to pep up its ratings. In week 18, the show recorded, 1142 Impressions ‘000s while in week 19 and 20 ratings were slightly increased from 1255 Impressions ’000s and 1298 Impressions ‘000s. But again in week 21, the show saw a dip in ratings and recorded 1297 Impressions ‘000s.

Adhuri Kahani Hamari on &TV was about reincarnation also revolved around a snake went off air on 13 May. The show failed to garner positive ratings for the channel. In week 18, the show recorded 726 Impressions ‘000s, while in week 19, the show closed at 1025 Impressions ‘000s.

While speaking with Indiantelevision in an earlier interview, RBNL CEO Tarun Katial had said, “One horror show starts many starts, one crime show starts many others to make them, it’s a trend. People do enough of the genre and then they move to the next one.”

Katial further added, “I think that content is getting more innovative and more lateral. People are thinking of different ways of storytelling. We have to put imagination around this. You know if we were to call Naagin regressive then we should also callVampire Diaries regressive but we watch Vampire Diaries and we don’t call it regressive. All the sci-fi or supernatural that goes around on American television, we don’t call it regressive because it comes from Hollywood.”

“These all are disruptive trends In fact as far as regular story telling goes, every show needs to outshout others so either there is a high point or there is some action or outdoor that happened because when you do something like horror fiction or supernatural you draw lot of attention and if your story telling is strong you retain that attention which then converts into ratings. I think from time to time makers keep doing this to get that spike. But this can be a trap if you are doing things, those things should not damage the credibility of the show,” opined a senior producer.

Whether it is the broadcaster and production house that are producing such creative content just to create the buzz and for high ratings, it has definitely managed to engross audiences. Balaji Telefilms which is famous for all the typical Saas - Bahu dramas and reincarnation love stories is slowly moving ahead with the supernatural mantra.

Colors has already announced that it will come back with Naagin season 2 soon and now it's Kawach that is all set to scare small screens viewers. These are interesting times and it will be interesting to see that how Colors and Balaji encash their new offerings.

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