SAB TV beats lockdown blues with new show

Optimystix Entertainment and SAB TV join together to create a humorous show

MUMBAI: When the going gets tough, the creative ones get more creative! That’s what Optimystix Entertainment and SAB TV have joined together and did. A humorous entertainment programme to beat the lockdown blues. The show, #KuchSmilesHoJayeinWithAlia, started airing on SAB TV from 18 May. The programmes were shot entirely from the TV artists’ homes remotely.

“People are curious to know what their favourite characters are doing. The whole idea was to make people laugh,” said Optimystix Entertainment founding chairman and MD Vipul D Shah.

“All the people who watch SAB TV are our audience. Basically all SAB TV characters are having fun with each other in this programme. The main idea is that our characters should be able to communicate with our audiences during lockdown,” he said.

And was it difficult to shoot in the middle of Covid2019? “I won’t say it was difficult but it was an entirely new experience for us. The director used to direct them over the phone. He was guiding them with the proper frame and lighting. He gave directions remotely about the positioning of the actors in their own houses. It was a very remote video call direction. The coordination part was a little challenging as the artists used to record the show and send us. After that we looked at other aspects of the shoot and if correction was required we used to coordinate with them again. Our director used to guide them with script and punch lines.”

Asked how many episodes they have planned, he said: “We now have 16 episodes in the bank; we will analyse how it goes and after that we can think if we want to shoot more episodes. Entire shooting was done indoor in people’s respective houses with zero human contact from the production side.”

He informed that the channel is re-running the show Sajan Re Jhuth Mat Bolo and many other shows like that. “But from our end we are keeping the script ready. As soon as the government decides to lift the lockdown we want to be ready with ideas and scripts as there will be huge content consumption. People will start watching TV more than ever.”

“We have created the bank for existing shows as well as new shows. Generally, we create humorous shows so we are planning to subtly introduce Covid2019 situations into our writing. One day everything will be back to normal but can you erase these memories from people’s mind? It is not possible. Maybe we will introduce things in a humorous way or a dramatic way,” he said.

Optimystix Entertainment creative producer Nikul Desai said that right now they are only testing the show and analysing the responses. “If it works we will go for a longer run. As of now we will run four to eight episodes and then based on the response we will see if there is a need to make more episodes.”

Regarding the duration of shoot, he added: “It took one day to just shoot the episode. Lot of coordination was involved. There were a lot of reshoots; sometimes quality went for a toss. Because actors are not equipped to shoot in the right direction, or lighting and there was certain footage that we had to reconsider. So for the one episode including shoot and edit it took four to five days. Ensuring every actor is on time was a task as everyone cannot be present at the same time. We created a lot of games and videos like Tik Tok; then there are anthems that we have produced ourselves.”

The credit for ideation and creation goes both to Optimystix Entertainment and SAB TV.

Regarding the challenges in making the programme, he said:  “From the telecast point of view you at least need bare minimum quality of audio and video. Then we sanitised the entire equipment and ordered actors to keep it at least for 72 hours before using it. We were monitoring shoots via video conferencing and advising them what to do and what not to do. I think largely technicality was the major issue.”

Balraj and Alia are anchoring the show so there were a lot of midnight rehearsals through video conferencing. They used to do script reading, figured out the rules of the games, etc. “Also, there are short montages in the show. So we told the artists about the time duration of their dialogue. On top of that there was a time constraint to finish the episode in a certain time. We followed the basic safety measure and hygiene at every stage to safeguard our people,” he said.

Promotions are largely going to take place on social media and on air promotions.

“We will cover one topic in every episode supposedly. One topic is about how people are going through these food challenges, how people are doing exercises to stay fit. One episode will be about interpersonal chemistry between the characters. Our main focus is to bring joy into people's lives,” he concluded.

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