Mushtaq Shiekh, the Creative Director of Sahara One talks about the channel's differentiated programming, on their upcoming launch Mr. and Mrs. Mishra, their initiatives at gaining a comfortable position as far as GRP's are concerned, and much more in an exclusive interview with Telly Buzz..
What are the future plans of Sahara One? Are you looking for a fresh programming line-up?
We are of course looking at a fresh programming line up. We've always been known for our high quality fiction shows. Shows like Woh Rehne Wali ...is among the longest running fiction show across GEC channels and our other shows like Ghar Ek Sapna and Doli Saja Ke have each played their role perfectly. It was a logical phase out of the past and we are all set to welcome the new set. Our first show towards the launch of a fresh programming line up is Ganesh Leela, and we hope to build on this with quite a few shows straddling different genres. We have always been trend setters and never the ones who follow others. We did that with shows likes Mata Ki Chowki and now with Mr. & Mrs. Mishra, we are attempting differentiated programming aimed at widening the captive audience base of Sahara One.
We are planning a block by block approach to our programming strategy and you will see the strategy unfold in the next few months. Along with the fiction shows we are also looking at movies as a tent pole strategy and have acquired rights to telecast blockbusters like Ghajini , Singh is King etc.
How does Sahara One plan to better its GRPs in this competitive environment of television?
We are sure that all the initiatives mentioned above, will lead us to a comfortable position as far as GRP's are concerned. Unlike other new GEC's, we are not a high burn strategy. We are looking at the overall business and not just GRP's . For us it is not a GRP race by burning huge amounts whose monetary recovery is an almost impossible task. We are operating on a ROI model but without compromising on our core content promise. We are here for the long run and we want to run a profitable business.
When is Mr. & Mrs. Mishra launching? Any date and time finalized for it?
Mr. & Mrs. Mishra will be launched on 14 September and the time slot for it is 8 pm.
How do you feel Mr. & Mrs. Mishra is different from all the other investigative shows shown on TV so far?
When I first thought about this concept, I wanted to offer viewers something that they had not seen before in the investigative space on Indian television which is fast paced, well shot, crisp and highly dramatic. But I wanted to do all this without losing my women audience, without alienating them. That is how Mr & Mrs Mishra was born. The golden middle as I would like to refer to it.
I have always been an avid mystery lover. Read and lapped up every mystery book and written word there is to murder. The whole factor of who could the killer be… has always fascinated me. The problem with crime thrillers on Indian television is that it's been very childish and nave. I wanted something with more depth and understanding of the nature of every crime committed. Mr. & Mrs.Mishra brings that perspective on the table. It's not only about Mr. & Mrs.Mishra and their Unit 9 team solving cases, it is also about knowing who they are and why they are, the way they are. It's following them to work and understanding their freaky nature of work and the impact it has on their own lives. So that makes Mr. and Mrs. Mishra a character driven show which will unveil the mind of killers and the mind scape of the ones solving the case too. So it's both sides of the coin: the good and the bad.
Do you think an investigative show and that too at a daily slot will work?
Without doubt it will. An investigative show has everything that a viewer wants to stay riveted to the screen. The tension, the stickiness and the whole enigma unraveling itself slowly makes them return for more. In fact I feel an investigative show is the only one that does not need to rely on a freeze point to pull viewers back the next day or next week…because curiosity in the case gets the better of you. So any investigative show has the highest probability of not only numbing the competition, it also keeps the viewers off the remote for very long. All one has to do is to deliver them content that is effective and gripping…and think two steps ahead of them. If my team has done that in Mr. and Mrs. Mishra I think we have pulled it off.
Why Anubhav Sinha as the Producer for a television show?
One wanted to push the envelope not a wee bit…but the whole hog. For doing that, you need to bring someone on the board who has a bigger vision and who loves his work. A game is lost if one does not play it well. One needed somebody who would bring the finesse and the technical wizardry to a show and that was when the name Anubhav Sinha came to my mind. He is a master of his art form and someone who is always known for a big canvas, good looking, perpetual eye candy movies, and I wanted that translated into a television show. One look at the show and you will see that magic Anubhav Sinha and his team have done with Mr. & Mrs. Mishra. The audiences are truly in for a treat.
What went wrong with Kismat Connection? Was it the revamp that cost the story and viewership?
It's unfair to analyze shows that have gone off air in hindsight. The reasons could and were many for its exit for the channel…but to sit in judgment after its gone is being unfair to all connected with the show. After all too much hard work goes into making and creating shows. All I would like to add is that the revamp gave it another run for two months or otherwise it would have made an even more pre-mature exit.
How has Ganesh Leela been received by viewers? Do you think a mythological show will give you the ratings in the long run?
The response to Ganesh Leela has been over whelming and we are sure that the show is going to do the trick for us. It has brought in the audience for a tough slot for us and we are thrilled by its performance. Mythos that have substance and are made well, have a way of seeping into the blood of audience and once its there-nothing can remove it. Ganesh Leela has already done the job of putting the foot in the door for us, and one has to wait and watch for the tidal wave it can create. Ganesh Leela has performed very well across all markets...now the race for the long run begins…
Reporter and Author: Srividya Rajesh