Sony’s ‘Encounter’ with Manoj Bajpayee

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By Disha Shah Posted on : 03 Apr 2014 07:57 pm

MUMBAI: For Endemol India that has established itself as a leader in the reality TV space and has expanded into other strands of content, it has been a roller coaster ride.

Although crime shows on TV are common with almost every channel, but the way Sony Entertainment Television (SET) has accepted this genre, nobody has, believe the experts of the industry.

Crime always sells and it is this genre that has worked for the channel which is currently languishing among the bottom three GECs, according to the weekly TAM TV ratings.

CID and Crime Patrol has been airing for years and it won’t be wrong to say that the shows belong to the crime space.  To get back its long lost position in the ratings chart, SET is set to launch Encounter on 11 April. Produced by Endemol India, the show will be hosted by Manoj Bajpayee.

Encounter, as the name suggests, is an account of the dangerous encounters between cops and gangsters. It will bring alive the stories behind the famous encounters of the police and the underworld in India starting from the early nineties. Inspired by real-life incidents, the show aims at redefining the proverbial action series on television.

The promos of the show that is to air 36 episodes have already hit the television screens and will be telecast every Friday to Sunday at 9 pm. It will replace the channel's dance reality property Boogie Woogie that is shown on Saturday and Sunday while it will also take away a day's telecast of Nandini (aired at 9 pm) and Jee Le Zara (aired at 9.30 pm) that airs on Fridays. Sources indicate that the latter will be shutting its shop very soon due to poor ratings.

Gaurav Seth

SET senior vice president, head-marketing Gaurav Seth believes that crime shows are the channel’s strength. “There are a lot of crime shows on television but we believe that such shows are our strength. People talk to us in big numbers, watch the crime genre and believe that we do it well. Whether its CID or Crime Patrol, these are the shows which have cult following over a period of time because people think that this is something Sony does best. We want to continue that trend.”

Spelling out the reason of getting Bajpayee on board Seth avers, “He is going to play a very interesting role of narrating the stories from the inside. He has got most implacable credentials when it comes to this genre and has also played humorous characters that have actually stood out in Indian cinema.”

SET has rolled out an aggressive marketing campaign for this show. There will be more than 20-25 channels telecasting the promos of Encounter. For the channel that has already bought 8,000 spots, television is going to play a lead medium for communication. The promotional TVC featuring Bajpayee will also be promoted on other mediums like radio, print, digital media, games and apps.

Ajay Bhalwankar, who has recently joined SET as its chief creative director, believes that the show is going to be a blockbuster. He reveals: “It is going to be very different show and not on the lines of Crime Patrol as people are comparing it with. These are all different cop stories and are not wholly focused on the criminals. You will find a lot of difference from other crime properties which are airing on television today.”

Ajay Bhalwankar

A source closely connected with Endemol revealed that the planning for the show started three months ago. “When we started off, we wanted to do a real encounter series, real cases with real people. But it was just not possible. It also needed to have a fictional twist because getting the police on-board was a difficult task. So we decided to make it a fiction series because the channel believes in crime-related shows and that is its audience.”

The same source further goes on to add: “We shot a small pilot with an actual encounter specialist A Khan and the channel liked the concept so much that they immediately picked it up. The pilot would be of one episode.”

Moreover, compared to Sony’s other crime properties like CID and Crime Patrol, the production cost of Encounter is much higher per episode. As of now three episodes have been canned and are ready to go on-air.

Media professionals feel that the channel should concentrate more on its line-up of fiction rather than giving viewers weekend dose of entertainment. “The show is going to compete with one of the best shows other channels have in that time slot. Since Sony already has strong crime properties that are doing well for them, there was no need to create another one. They should come up with innovative content for its daily soaps which are struggling to find its place in the ratings chart,” reasons a prominent media planner who did not wish to be named.

Encounter is going to compete with Pavitra Rishta (Fri) and DID Lil Masters (Sat-Sun) on Zee TV, Beintehaa (Fri) and Khatron Ke Khiladi five (Sat-Sun) on Colors, Diya Aur Baati Hum on Star Plus (Fri-Sat) and Mad In India (Sun) and Chidiya Ghar on Sab.

Seth is not worried about the competition. “We are extremely hyper and aggressive about everything that we are doing. Since it’s a very competitive slot, we have to believe in our content. And to ensure that people latch on to this content, we have a very interesting promotional campaign going on and we are very excited about it,” he signs off.

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