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Sony looks to strengthen weekday programming with Beyhadh debut

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MUMBAI: In week 37 of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India data, Sony Entertainment Television saw a rise in ratings in the urban Hindi speaking market (HSM) and grabbed the fourth position that week. Sony’s weekend properties The Kapil Sharma Show and Super Dancer were the top rated shows in their respective slots. And Indian Idol is slated to launch in the not too distant future with Sonu Nigam making a comeback as a judge after 10 years.

In a previous conversation with Indiantelevision.com, Sony Entertainment Television EVP and business head Danish Khan mentioned that the broadcaster’s prime focus was on strengthening the general entertainment channel’s weekend properties.

That done, and with the ratings coming in steadily on Saturday and Sunday, Khan has his eyes set on firming up Sony’s weekday prime time. Come January, and the channel is aiming to fill up its prime time band between 7 pm and 10 pm with a clutch of engaging and interesting new shows.

As a first step in that direction, Sony is launching its new prime time offering, Beyhadh from 11 October at 9pm. Produced by Cinevista, the show is a finite series which will run for a year. And it’s coming as a replacement for its earlier 9 pm attempt Bade Bhaiyya Ki Dulhania, which did not really chalk up the ratings.

According to sources, Beyhadh's per episode budget estimate is at around Rs 15 lakh. The channel has roped in Macho as the presenting sponsor and mobile company Vivo as the co-powered partner.

Says Khan: “ There are more shows coming up. Our weekend programming is pretty robust now. Good week day programming can only add to our TVTs and hence by January I am strengthening that.”

Starring the attractive Jennifer Winget, Kushal Tandon and Aneri Vajani in lead roles, Beyhadh chronicles the lives of Maya (Jennifer), Arjun (Kushal) and Saanjh (Aneri) and how their paths cross as one of them decides to rewrite their destinies. In the romantic thriller genre, it showcases two different shades of love – one driven by obsession and the other by selflessness and purity. Maya plays the insomniac sociopath, Arjun her boyfriend and Saanjh, a lawyer. Other cast members include: Imran Khan, Kavita Ghai, Rajesh Khattar and Sharad Vyas.

“Beyhadh is a powerful drama, with an impact casting. Jennifer, Kushal and Aneri bring a lot of power to their respective characters. The characters are new, never seen before and so is the storyline. We are delighted to partner with Cinevista and their young and talented team,” adds Khan.

Developed from a story by Ritika Bajaj, the show's screenplay is by Shripad d'meleo and dialogues have been penned by Radhika.

Says Cinevista vice-chairman & managing director Sunil Mehta: “In 2014 we had Ek Haseena Thi which was a mind blowing serial, in 2015, we had Dilli Wali Thakur Girls and in 2016 we have Beyhadh. We decided to come up with a show which is dynamically different from whatever is being screened across the GECs. We wanted to position Cinevista differently and I think we have achieved that with Beyhadh. We don’t want to repeat the same stuff running across the GECs. One channel is imitating what the other channel is doing because at the end of day it's about the game of GRPs going up which is important because they need to commercialise.”

The new show is pitted against Zee TV’s most rated prime time show Kumkum Bhagya, Colors’ Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat, Star Plus’ new show Naamkarann, Life OK’s Nagarjun: Ek Yodha and Sab TV’s Chidya Ghar.

Says a media observer: “Differentiation for the sake of differentiation is something channels try to do. And often they fail. The promos of Beyhadh seem to forecast a different, yet interesting story line. However, the performance of the cast - while it has the lovely and vivacious Jennifer Winget and the handsome hunk Kushal Tandon and the sweet looking Aneri Vajani - could improve. At least if one goes by the promos. Hopefully, this and the direction will improve as the episodes are unveiled to viewers. The treatment will matter greatly – it has to be massy enough to get the ratings that have evaded Sony’s fictional programming for a while now. It’s looking strong on the weekends. It’s crucial for the channel to really get some audience share at the 9 pm slot on weekdays. For if it does with this show, it could well jump into the top three in the GEC pecking order."

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