Ashvini Yardi, Programming Head, COLORS feels that Level 2 of Khatron Ke Khiladi will be a notch higher than Level 1 for several reasons. "First thing, as the name Fear Factor Level 2 itself suggests, the stunts will be of a higher degree of difficulty. Last time we had the girls helped by army men; this time we have taken COLORS viewers on board. Nationwide auditions were held and we have chosen ordinary people who will join the girls in encountering their worst fears. The mix of girls we have got is again just right, for example we not only have supermodels, film stars (Nauheed Cryusi), TV actress( Rupali Ganguly), but for the first time, we have taken a wrestler (Sonika Kaliraman)". On Akshay Kumar, she says, "This time the Khiladi super star will be more of a mentor than an anchor. He is also more involved and has done more stunts. He really motivated the girls to push themselves to the limit. If they went into the water, he joined them".
She was quite happy at the quick success of COLORS (which has reached number 1 slot in a very short time). She felt that her biggest learning curve in the last one year was that, "Audiences wants change. Everybody wondered whether a male skewed show (Fear factor 1) will work on a week day prime time, but it did. In the past year amongst the success of Balika Vadhu, Sri Krishna and Fear factor 1, I felt sad that Mohe Rang De did not work That period drama was a good show, but we could not take its characters to a higher level".
She rejected allegations that Jaane Kya Baat Hui was shifted from 10.30 to 6.30 because of lower TRPS. "No, ratings were never the reason as it was giving us around 1.7 TVR even at 10.30. We shifted it as we wanted to extend the evening prime time band. But as the audience profile was different at 6.30 (from 10.30 PM,) the story had to be changed and we lost the plot somewhere".
Looking ahead, she says, "Koi Aane Ko Hai will end very soon. We had planned this reality inspired family horror in a seasonal manner. And it will be back later". COLORS also appears quite confident about the success of 100 %, their upcoming wrestling competition between Indian and international wrestlers. But will such a format work in a GEC environment? "I believe that until and unless we don't give our viewers something different, we will never progress". She jokingly added that, "It has all the masala elements of WWE where the wrestlers break each others' heads", says Ashvini.
Mahavir Hanuman is again based on kids which seem to be the USP of COLORS, with the likes of Balika Vadhu and Uttaran already on. "Agreed, our shows have had kids but they have been based on a particular theme. As for Mahavir Hanuman the logic is simple; we all know about the older Hanuman, as it is a part of the Ramayan. But our knowledge of this monkey God's childhood is limited, and that was exactly the case with Jai Sri Krishna as well".
Ashvini has no problems with the recent trend where reality television has got personal. "But that's what the format actually entails. Up to now, what we had were talent shows masquerading as reality shows. And don't our fiction shows have the same elements? These soap stories come out from within our society and not Mars".
In closing, we could not help but ask her comment on the speculation that 'Jeevan Saathi' and 'Mere Ghar Aayi Ek Nanhi Pari' may end? She just replied, "We have not made any announcement".
Reporter and Author: Anil Merani