MUMBAI: In a country which loves melodrama, comedy had little space until Sab came along. The family channel from the Multi Screen Media (MSM) stable, which can be credited to the rise in the comedy genre with its popular shows Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, Lapataganj and Chidya Ghar, is setting new level with Tu Mere Agal Bagal Hai.
The new sitcom isn’t like any other. What is different this time around is the people. The cast will act in front of a live audience which the channel says will be the USP of the show as it will add an element of spontaneity to the entire humorous offering.
A first from a general entertainment channel (GEC), its makers didn’t hesitate once before making it a reality. "This is how American sitcoms are shot, and we wanted to go the same way. No one in the GEC space has done this before, like always we wanted to start a trend," says Frames Productions producer Ranjeet Thakur who is debuting in the genre with the show.
The star cast will perform in front of 100-150 live audience “without any prompting unlike other comedy shows where audiences are told when to laugh and clap,” adds Thakur who believes that the script is strong enough to get the desired reactions.
Sab’s latest offering Badi Dooooor Se Aaye Hai broke records, when it opened with 1.8 TVTs highest for any new show across channels. The channel believes that the same can be achieved with the yet-to-go on air show.
Sab senior EVP and business head Anooj Kapoor says, “Sab’s policy has always been differentiation through innovation.” The fictional comedy series will replace FIR, which will go bi-weekly and will be aired every Saturday-Sunday at 9pm for an hour. With this move, the channel plans to scale up its programming line-up for seven days.
The channel which showcases the positives in the society also propagates joint family issues and has delivered hits after hits. The newest entrant will revolve around the lives of the owners and the tenants living under the same roof of Bungalow no. 5.
The star cast includes actor Alok Nath who will have his first trysts with comedy TV series on the small screen. The rest comprises Rajesh Kumar, Shweta Gulati, Apara Mehta, Ami Trivedi, Samir Shah, Sugandha Mishra, Dhaval, Abhishek Awasthi, Monica Castelino and Sukesh. It will also see actress Supriya Pathak back on television after ‘Khichdi.’
The channel’s business head has been vocal about the late development of the genre in the country and limited pool of talent in the industry. However, he is thankful to theater which has produced many talented actors. “Be it Hindi or regional theatre, we are getting a lot of talented actors from there,” he says.
Agreeing with him, Thakur adds, “Casting sometimes does get difficult because you want people with a certain flare and not just comedians on the show. It was a bit of a hassle at the initial stage, but then eventually we managed to get the right people on board.”
It took six months for the makers’ from planning the show to its execution. As of now, 20 episodes have been canned with the set being located at SJ Studio, Andheri.
The show will be promoted through a 360 degree marketing campaign. The pan-India OOH campaign comprises hoardings across 50 HSM towns, bus shelters etc. The channel will also leverage multiplex audiences by branding at key touch points.
Apart from that, a three-week long campaign is being planned for news, youth and movies channels. A national print campaign with leading publications will be seen for over these weeks and more than 15+ regional publications will have daily inserts.
There are also plans for tying up with major radio stations. The recent popularity of Alok Nath in the social media will be used on mobile and digital platforms to promote the show. The channel also plans to undertake a multi-city tour with the stars.
Media planners believe that comedy as a genre is increasing and broadcasters are cashing heavily from the space. “Broadcasters are not shying to spend on the genre anymore as it has become a trend. Sab owns the genre, but hope the new show gets good numbers for the channel.”