MUMBAI: Entertainment! Entertainment! Entertainment! was the mantra of India’s leading general entertainment channel – Star Plus – while launching its much hyped show - Mad In India - starring Sunil Grover aka Gutthi…oops Chutki on Friday in Trombay, north-east Mumbai, where the show is being shot.
The buzz about the show began almost three months ago, right after actor-comedian Sunil Grover decided to part ways with Comedy Nights With Kapil on Colors which made his character Gutthi a household name. Now, it is finally ready to go on air from Sunday, 16 February at 9 pm.
Mad in India, which would play along one of the most fitting topics of the time – ‘aam aadmi’, will be divided into two segments – aam and khaas. To showcase both the segments in the best way, a grand rotating set has been designed by Omang Kumar – one front of which has a conversational area, while the other is a setup of a middle-class fictional locality – Bharatnagar – where Chutki, a flirty, social network addict resides with her parents and few neighbours. With the tagline, ‘100% desi show’, Mad in India alongside Sunil Grover would have Dolly Ahluwalia as Mango Dolly, Shweta Tiwari as Katrina Mishra, and other popular comedians like Khayali, Siddharth Jadhav, Rehman Khan, Rajbir Kaur and Paritosh Tripathi, while actor-anchor Manish Paul will play the host. Adding a little fun and music to the show would be singer Priya Patel.
“In the khaas segment, Manish will talk to the special guests of the week, while the aam segment would have comic acts around the aam aadmi but not satirical, rather entertaining,” says Star Plus non-fiction head Ashish Golwalkar, also adding that they don’t want the show to come across as preachy, rather with the aam-khaas concept shows the dichotomy that exists in our society, in our lives in the present times.
Rajeshwar Nair, the producer of the show (Keylight Productions), says they wanted to come up with a show that could capture the everyday issues of the common man. “As a production house, we have been at the forefront of highlighting issues with shows like Aap Ki Kachehri, India’s Got Talent, etc. This show will highlight the issues of the common man with funny take on what is happening in an aam country,” he remarks as he also says that it’s not satire but new-age comedy.
Once the basic idea was conceptualised, it was executed by creating a mohalla that has an English speaking coaching centre, a salon, marriage bureau, an all-in-one jugaadu guy, a struggler among other quirky characters clubbed with issues that matter. “From the idea to the execution, it took us almost five months,” says Nair, who thinks comedy is a tough task these days as there’s a lack of talent in the genre.
In fact, that is precisely why Star Network, which at one point of time was at the forefront of this genre with shows like The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, Hans Baliye, Chak De Fatte etc, took such a long time to come up with a comedy show. “Comedy was on our mind since a long time. But we didn’t want to come up with anything just for the sake of it. We waited to come up with something that we believe in,” says Star Plus SVP marketing and content strategy Nikhil Madhok, who also wanted to make Sundays entertaining for the viewers. “The show was conceptualised after we decided to extend our weekend programming till Saturday. While our fiction shows are more women-oriented, we wanted to make Sundays family oriented,” he adds.
There is big script-writing team working for the show. Rajiv Dhingra, who has more than 10 years of experience in comedy (few months even with Comedy Nights With Kapil), is heading the content team which has young writers from different spaces – few from theatre also. However, Nair believes that besides the strong content development team, the spontaneity of the artistes associated with the show who can crack a joke even when they don’t have a script, will work well for the show.
Dhingra says, “All the content that would be showcased is being developed thoughtfully. Our 10-member content team comprises a varied set of people from all across India, bringing in a pan-Indian flavour to the show.”
Another USP of the show, the makers believe is going to be its setup. “The realistic elements on the show will make it very convincing,” says Nair talking about the set that he assumes would be one of the most expensive sets of the present time.
However, the khaas or the conversational area where celebs like Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Baba Ramdev, Mika, Udit Narayan, etc are expected to come, has a striking similarity to the sets of the 90s show Movers & Shakers that was presented by Shekhar Suman. “To do a large scale entertainment show, there has to be a grammar with which the viewer relates. We are bringing freshness to the content but if we redefine everything, the viewer of the comedy genre will get very confused. Thus, we have tried to keep certain things, like the chat space, relatable to the audience,” says Nair.
Because of the earlier drama around the show, it is sure to draw comparisons with CNWK. However, the channel is assuring to create its own space. Unlike CNWK, Mad In India won’t have movie stars coming on the show for promotions regularly. It would have variety entertainment. Golwalkar mentions a concept like The Kumars at 42 while talking about the show, which in itself makes it clear that it is not trying to compete with any other show, rather is trying to create its own space. “There’s a place for everyone and everything to co-exist,” he remarks. “Also, as a GEC, it is important for us to delve into all the genres and that is why we have revived comedy. We are also coming up with a crime-thriller Ishq Kills at 10 pm and we would soon also revive the music genre,” says Golwalkar.
While the team believes that the appetite for comedy has increased in the recent time and the show is going to work just because of its differentiated content, even media planners are of the same view. “The best part is that the show would air at 9 pm while CNWK is telecast at 10 pm. The message sent across is that they are not competing but trying to add value to the genre that’s evolving by the day,” says a media planner.
The show has got three associate sponsors – Kit Kat from Nestle, protein shake Endura Mass and LIC. “The sales team is working to get three-four more sponsors by next week,” says Madhok, also professing that they aren’t looking for a title sponsor for the show in this season as they want the show to build its own brand.
But does that mean that the show would have a second season? “Since it is once a week, we haven’t really capped the number of episodes. Depending on the response that we get, we would decide if it would be a 13 episode or 26 episode season. We might give the writers a break to plan another season,” says Madhok.
The marketing strategies have been planned keeping in mind that the show comes across as differentiated and funny and thus only TV and digital have been kept as a medium where the characters can be showcased with jokes. “We have stayed away from print, OOH, radio where there’s a static image positioning it as ‘just another comedy show’. We are also not trying to show the concept to the audience as it would be too much info for the audience,” he says.
Considering that the show would air on the leading GEC, the media planners think it has all the reasons to be successful. Helios Media MD Divya Radhakrishnan says that there’s appetite for comedy as everybody wants a respite from the taxing lifestyle. “If the show is content-driven, there’s cent per cent chance for it to do really well.”