Now a Fatafati music treat for Bongs

MUMBAI: For all those Bengalis out there, one more music channel has been added to the existing list. However, Music F Fatafati - launched on 25 January by Royal Raj Media and Launch Pad – claims to change the way Bangla music is consumed.

For starters, the name is but the street language (Rasta) equivalent of ‘rocking’ and ‘awesome’. The 24X7 free-to-air channel targets the 15-24 year age group and airs the latest Bengali music.  In between the shows, viewers will be punctuated by 3D animations and cartoon shorts around funny characters - Jagai, Madhai and Pappi Da - lovingly called ‘the heroes of the channel’.

About the launch, Royal Raj Media director Siddharth Misra says: “We are pleased to tie up with Launch Pad for the launch of Music F - Fatafati and offer the latest in Bangla music to our audiences. With a strategic tie up with Eskay Films, we hope to deliver a fantastic product.”

While Fatafati currently has 20-30 per cent original content on air with high-energy numbers in the morning and evening, and softer, more romantic songs in the afternoon, plans are to initially focus on contemporary Bangla film music and later provide differentiated content through the tie up with Eskay. Eskay Films director Himanshu Dhanuka says he is excited to be a part of this collaboration to promote Bangla music culture and looks forward to more such associations in the future.

Launch Pad director Vikas Varma, who played a key role in the 9XM launch, explains the concept behind Fatafati. “After the successful launch of various TV channels like 9XM etc., Music F - Fatafati has been very close to my heart. In the past five to six years, Bengali music and movies have achieved world-class standards. I believe this channel will change the way viewers consume music. This is my gift to all Bangla music lovers,” he says, before adding, “We have grown by 100 per cent from the first week to the second week.” Fatafati, which is facing tough competition from Dhoom, Tara Music and Sangeet Bangla, has achieved number two position in a short span of time.

Launch Pad director Probal Gaanguly

For Launch Pad director Probal Gaanguly: “The primary reason for planning this project was that while there are many channels, not all are of significance. What we are providing and what we have created as a viewer proposition is completely different from other music channels in Bengal in terms of quality, presentation and what we will be offering to sponsors and advertisers as a brand proposition. Other channels have been working but they mostly have a regional perspective. What we are bringing is a national perspective because of our own background. We have built brands over so many years...”

Fatafati took six to eight months right from the planning to the final stage with the launch pad team comprising not more than 15 people and not much research going into the launch. Varma reasons: “I am from Kolkata and I somewhere knew what people need and my TG is all the people I have been dealing with and talking to and have grown up with.”

According to Varma, Bangla rock music is huge but the problem lies in music bands not having the money to create videos. So, the channel is currently in conversation with these groups. “Right now, we are talking to various music bands, getting their music and working on their story board and helping them to make their music video, which we will be happy to showcase. This thing has never been exploited in Bengal before,” he says.

Soon, Fatafati will launch a segment called ‘Viewers countdown’ having the top ten favourite songs of the audience. “We may sit in our ivory towers and feel a particular song is good but finally, it is about what the audience wants. We want to figure out that and put it on the channel,” says Varma.

In a first, Fatafati will showcase a daily dance show, starting next month. “It is young teenagers dancing to their favourite tunes. Great remix music and kids dancing in different styles... Total glam-rock,” he adds.

Speaking of the channel’s ‘heroes’, he says: “If what I had done in 9XM was an ambassador at that time, this is a Ferrari. It is really rocking. The music, special effects, graphics, animation is awesome. It is international standard. It is more like what Hollywood would come out with. Other local music channels do not reflect the change in environment in the Bengali film industry, but I’ve always viewed my channel as the Las Vegas of Bengali music.”

Fatafati is available as FTA with Kolkata MSOs such as Den, Hathway and SitiCable among others. It is yet to mark its presence on DTH platforms and cities outside of West Bengal.

Asked if the channel plans to turn pay anytime soon, Varma laughs it off saying, “Greed call will take later. I believe in free music and music should always be free.” While Gaanguly says: “We wanted to first launch the channel. Give viewers a completely clean experience of watching the content and the packaging. Slowly, we will get advertisers on-board. This will also help us keep a check on our distribution and availability.”

The existing ad rate is Rs 2,000 per 10 sec but in the inaugural couple of months, the channel brought out some inaugural packages between Rs 500 and Rs 1000 per 10 sec.

About the 12-min per hour ad cap, Gaanguly says: “I feel we would be in the advantage, because we don’t have the baggage of running more ads. Personally and as a company, we believe that the ad cap is going to be good for the industry as well as the viewers in the long run. The entire business plan is based only on 10-minute. We are starting off on a clean slate. Our every business approach is based on 10-minute only.”

Marketing and promotion

Industry sources say investment of nearly Rs 20 to Rs 25 crore is required to start a regional music channel but in the case of Fatafati, between Rs 15 to Rs 20 crore has been invested. 

Apart from the metro stations in Kolkata where the channel promos played before the launch, not much marketing and promotion went into the launch of Fatafati. “I believe when you are launching a new channel, a music channel, it has a great fanatical following by itself. You really do not need to do a big marketing campaign,” says Varma before adding, “These things are no ball. We start with huge budgets and eventually, the channel has to make money soon. You can’t be running a loss making channel.”

Vikas Varma with Music F Fatafati's animated characters

However, Fatafati expects the electronic programme guide (EPG) to work in its favour apart from the buzz on social media. The channel has around 2000 fans on with 900 people talking about it. It has its own YouTube channel which airs music plus jokes and gags by the animated characters.

The initiative has been applauded by the media professionals as they believe that F Fatafati is likely to do well. “Music is much in demand in Kolkata as is evident from the popularity of the three music channels. A new channel like Fatafati would easily get its share of viewership if it has strong content,” remarks a Kolkata based media planner.

“Even though young people love Bollywood and Hollywood tunes, they consume Bengali movie music as well as Bengali music and movies have achieved world class standards in the last five years,” signs off the media planner.

About the collaborators

Royal Raj Media has invested in association with Launch Pad in the conceptualisation, creation and management of Fatafati for the next three years. Launch Pad is a first-of-its-kind BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) model in the broadcasting space. Launch Pad is looking at launching many more regional music entertainment channels in the future. In a similar deal last year, the company successfully launched Bhojpuri music channel Hummra M.

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