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Zee TV’s new weekend detective drama costs 50% more to produce

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MUMBAI: Women empowerment is Zee TV’s new motto as it embraces the recently adopted brand philosophy – ‘Aaj Likhenge Kal’. Its latest weekend primetime show Detective Didi will attempt to inspire the girls of India by showing how Bunty Sharma chooses a bold career of a detective in a male-dominated field.

Produced by Manik Bedi and Ila Bedi Dutta, the show is both set and shot in the bylanes of Delhi. Bedi, who has previously produced Hitler Didi, says that the investment is also 50 per cent more because of the location change. “The entire crew has been brought from Mumbai for the shoot. It’s an expensive experiment,” he says. The shooting schedule is one year and so planning is being done three months in advance.

The local police are supporting the shoot as they cover iconic Delhi locations like Chandni Chowk, Jama Masjid, India Gate and Parliament House. “We are mobilising in a way that it is similar to shooting in Mumbai,” he adds.

Zee TV deputy business head Deepak Rajadhyaksha says that the character demanded Delhi due to its different socio-cultural ethos and to give authenticity to the adventures. He agrees that shooting cost is higher but the channel can manage it.

Following up Detective Didi’s new time slot of 8-9 pm on weekend, the channel will be opening more such slots. “There is no recipe for success and this show is a big experiment. What we can control are understanding sentiments, requirements and the aspirations and to portray them effectively through the shows,” says Rajadhyaksha.

Similar shows on other channels target the 9 pm slot but Zee didn’t want to cater to a pure crime audience but rather those that can be relatable to and viewed by families. A few years ago, the channel experimented with Neeli Chhatri Waale at this time which took a dive in ratings after the initial hype. “Our new programming strategy is to provide three different entertainment types from 8-11/11.30 pm,” reveals Rajadhyaksha. If Didi makes a mark in one year, the channel may give the producers a longer lifeline. This is also Zee’s first attempt at a detective drama on the weekend.

Rajadhyaksha says that Didi’s storytelling is different from others because of two episodes making one story. That leaves room for just the weekend slot. Bedi says this is better for producers since one topic will be explored on two consecutive days and so the recall value is higher. Zee TV was the one to decide the time slot for the show, which begins on 9 December. Bedi also explains that the success of a show doesn’t solely depend on the time slot, though that is a major factor.

In the show, Bunty is assisted by a second character Bhim Singh Bhullar and it will attempt to be hilarious as the duo takes different routes to solve cases. Dutta says that Bunty is the reflection of many ambitious Indian women who don’t forget their family responsibilities. “She isn’t a professional detective. She is an amateur with an uncanny knack for spotting crime and arresting it in time. The emotional aspects of a situation help her in cracking a case.”

The earlier name for the show was Delhi Crime Diaries but that would have made it Delhi-specific, says Dutta. Instead, the producers thought of using the common term ‘didi’ to make it relatable to the audiences.

Detective Didi is being sponsored by Bagh Bakri Mili Chai, Flamingo Knee Cap and Pillsbury Cookie cake, special partner – Combiflam Icy hot. It is hunting for a title sponsor.

Didi follows the lives of special agent Bhim Singh Bhullar and private detective Bunty’s journey, amidst their professional assignments, making way for some lighter moments while they investigate the city’s most baffling criminal cases. While Bhim is a jolly cop from the Delhi crime branch who investigates staying well within the rule book, Bunty takes matters into her own hands as she has no faith in the capabilities of the police. In the chase for who solves the case first, Bhim and Bunty, a man and a woman who can’t stand each other, fight tooth and nail to catch criminals and solve many interesting cases. Brilliant at their work and having their own individual strengths, they employ distinctly different methods while solving the same cases. But, when both Bunty and Bhim work together as a unit despite their differences, they seem to successfully solve cases with relative ease. Playing the dynamic character of Bunty Sharma is actor Sonia Balani while Manish Goplani will be seen stepping into the pivotal role of Bhim Singh Bhullar.

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