Our fiction & non-fiction shows will hold the fort against IPL: Colors’ Manisha Sharma

Colors to spice up its existing fiction line-up with consistent highpoints across all shows.

MUMBAI: A handful of people confined together in a building for days on end, with little to no contact with the outside world. Call it lockdown or the premise of Colors’ marquee property Bigg Boss, whose season 14 dropped in October 2020, a time when people across the country could relate to the show contestants’ (or inmates) plight like never before. After four months, the show wrapped up; the journey was not easy, the stakes were higher for the makers as well as the contestants.

“It was definitely a challenge to launch a show such as Bigg Boss which is mounted on a huge scale, especially during the pandemic,” said Viacom18 Hindi mass entertainment chief content officer Manisha Sharma. “There is a large amount of crew involved in producing the show and we had to keep their health and safety at the forefront when we made the decision to launch the season. It was an uphill battle but we managed it really well and had a great opening to the season.”

However, the viewership numbers for the reality show, which runs on high drama and discord, were not up to scratch this time around. This was mainly due to the IPL, which swept up the live sports-starved nation in its fervour and hogged the eyeballs and ad revenue. Despite the sluggish uptake for season 14, Sharma is satisfied with its performance, given the overarching circumstances. “We battled the competition from the IPL rather well, extended the show when we saw the numbers were decent and ended on a high note. In a tough year, I feel we exceeded expectations and we are quite proud of the season,” she added.

Now, the channel is counting on the newly launched Dance Deewane season 3 to drive up the TRPs and advertiser interest. Produced by Dreams Vault Media, Dance Deewane’s USP is that it doesn’t have a language or an age bar, stated Sharma. Both as a show and as a brand, the dance reality show has strongly resonated with the audiences for the last two seasons.

“Despite a rollercoaster 2020, we yet again break the stereotypes around age and define dance deewangi in a new avatar. The talent and passion of the contestants will inspire and entertain viewers across the country. We are positive that in this season, the contestants will not only leave the audience spellbound, but also the trio of new judges – Madhuri Dixit, Tushar Kalia and Dharmesh Yelande – will take the show to newer heights,” enthused Sharma. The network has brought on the quirky dancer, presenter and ‘King of Slow Motion’ Raghav Juyal as host for his spontaneity, wit and humour. Colgate and Maruti Suzuki have come onboard as presenting sponsors and Cadbury Dairy Milk is the powered by sponsor. The channel is going all guns blazing to make this edition of the series bigger and better.

There has always been a healthy competition in the television landscape. But as a channel, Sharma remarked that Colors has always been very heavily driven by content. The makers have continued to focus on shows that are concept and content based, and it has worked for it for the most part. “Even with Dance Deewane, we have competitors with such incredible stories who are such powerhouses of talent that we are not too bothered about the competition in the current slot,” related Sharma. All we are interested in is sharing the stories of these amazing individuals, who cover three generations, and providing them with a platform where they can compete. If we can do that successfully, that is a win for us.”

Even with the IPL around the corner, she is assured of Colors’ ability to hold its own. The channel will continue to spice up its existing fiction line-up with consistent highpoints across all shows. While Dance Deewane will anchor the weekend non-fiction slot, the GEC has launched Bawara Dil on weekdays at 10.30 pm. It’s an adaptation of its Marathi sister channel’s Jeev Zala Yeda Pisa. Weekday fiction line-up will be further strengthened with the debut of Udaariyan in March. Udaariyan follows the journey of two sisters from Punjab, where the younger sister’s dream becomes responsible for upturning the life of her elder sister. Additionally, a slew of new exciting experiments are in the pipeline.

“With our strong weekday and weekend programming line-up, we are sure to protect our ratings from the IPL brunt,” Sharma asserted.

She added that viewers are appreciating the entire bouquet that the channel has laid out for them. It has Pinjara and Namak Issk Ka which were launched during the lockdown. “The highpoints in the shows are really pulling in eyeballs. Kuch Toh Hai is also performing well in the fantasy fiction genre. Bawara Dil is our most recent offering, the Marathi version of the show has been a huge hit and we are expecting the same love and interest from the audience for the Hindi version as well,” she detailed.  

“We have a great mix of our existing shows as well as new shows which are doing really quite well with the audience. And for the shows where we see the audience's attention dipping, we are quick on the uptake and make the necessary changes required to get the show back up,” she quipped.

It will be interesting to see how the Colors’ weekday and weekend prime time programming fares come April, when the IPL unleashes a frenzy for cricket among the populace.

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