Zee Marathi to launch Jai Malhar

MUMBAI: If Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs) are treating audiences to a growing number of mythology-based shows, why should regional channels be far behind?

Following in the footsteps of Mahabharat, Mahadev and Maa Durga will be Zee Marathi’s Jai Malhar, a mythological show based on the reincarnation of Lord Shiva as Lord Khandoba aka Lord Malhar, Maharashtra’s most revered warrior god.

Produced by actor-filmmaker and head of Kothare Vision, Mahesh Kothare, the show has been mounted on a lavish scale and promises to be like none other before it. Slated to premiere on 18 May, Jai Malhar will replace Tu Tithe Mee at 7:00 pm. Only the first episode will be for one hour and will be beamed on a Sunday.

Zee Marathi business head Deepak Rajadhyaksha says, “Mythology has always appealed to Indian audiences but nobody in the Marathi industry has touched the subject owing to the extensive research and heavy investment involved in recreating it. Zee Marathi has made an ambitious attempt to transform the saga of Maharashtra’s Lord Khandoba into a gripping and thoughtful show with state-of-the-art visual effects and presentation. The original mythological narrative hasn’t been disturbed but what has been modified is the style of storytelling, making it riveting and in tune with contemporary screen techniques.”

Jai Malhar has Kartik Kende as executive director, Rupesh Tatkari as director of photography, Nilima Kothare and Neeta Khandke as costume designers, Santosh Ayachit as creative head and scriptwriter, Pankaj Padghan as music director and Chandrabhan and Abhijat in charge of graphics. The 60-strong team is largely constituted by young and promising talent.

For now, a deal for producing 312 episodes has been signed. With shooting having commenced on 31 March at Film City in Goregaon, the plan is to can seven to eight episodes by the end of this month, with 12-hour shooting schedules. For a show of such epic proportions, set designer Satish Panchal has re-created elements from Lord Khandoba’s palace, the fort of Jejuri, temples and ashrams to make it look as real as possible. Sources say nearly Rs 1.3 crore has been spent on the set itself. As for the central characters of Lord Khandoba and his two consorts, Mhalsa and Banai, were selected from more than 2,000 participants who auditioned in the cities of Mumbai, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Nashik and Kolhapur among others. The names of the protagonists have not yet been revealed. Two cameras are being used on the set for shooting in HD. In keeping with regulations, a medical officer is available on the set every day to oversee that the animals used for the shoot are treated ethically and not harmed in any way.

“Once we were firm on the idea, we approached Zee Marathi and they instantly said yes to it,” says Kothare. “The show will appeal to all. For youngsters it’s a tale of a lover; for the elderly, it’s the tale of a God; and for kids, it’s the tale of a superhero. No show has ever been made on this scale in the Marathi genre.”

Apparently, Kothare has been conceptualising the idea for the past three years and has been in talks with the channel for about a year and a half. Sources say that each episode could cost anywhere between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, pegging a year’s exercise at approximately Rs 10 crore to Rs 12 crore. Nearly Rs 50 lakh has gone into costumes alone including clothes, headgear and weapons.

A marketing campaign has already begun in TV and print. On-air promos have already begun while a full-page ad spread was already published in leading Marathi newspapers such as Maharashtra Times and Divya Bhaskar. The full-fledged campaign will break approximately 10 days before the launch of the show on 18 May. The creative agency for the show is FCB Ulka while media planning has been done by GroupM.

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