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Sports fiction on TV: SAB gets the ball rolling

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | October 31, 2007
The genre of sports is set to make its debut on general entertainment TV channels after a successful stint in films

The Indian & #BANNER1 & # cricket team winning the World Cup, the Indian national football team winning the Nehru Cup 14 years after it was instituted, the Indian hockey team winning the Asia Cup and Vishwanathan Anand winning the World Chess title - 2007 could well be termed the year when Indian sports came into its own.

"Cashing in on the success of the country's sportsmen, which is too few and far between, films and television are leaving no stone unturned to make the most of the current hype. The presence of Shah Rukh 'Chak De!' Khan! at India's recent T-20 win over Australia at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai was testimony to the fact that it's hard to separate sports from entertainment. There haven't been many years like 2007 in India's sports history and (this is) the right platform for both movies and television to reach the masses," says Divya Radhakrishnan, TME's vice-president.

If 'Chak De! India', a movie with a hockey theme, turned out to be the biggest blockbuster of the year, then the upcoming soccer movie, 'Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal' will try to repeat that success, if not better it. It is learnt that choreographer turned director Ahmed Khan is working on a sports based film titled 'Yahan Ke Hum Sikander' - the movie will be about either football or basketball.

Kajal Malik
Television is also jumping on the sports bandwagon. SAB TV is launching a new fiction show called 'Jersey No. 10', which is about the rivalry of two stepbrothers who are both all-rounder cricketers. Jersey No. 10 is worn by ace cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and has therefore become a symbol of cricketing excellence in India. The show, 'Jersey No. 10', uses this connection as an example to create a story around it. "Surely we haven't seen anything like this on television before. There were sports quizzes and a few shows on cricket and soccer on ESS, but nothing in the general entertainment space. With sports being the flavour of the season, I think it was a very smart move," says Kajal Malik, vice-president, Interactions.

Anooj Kapoor, business head, SAB TV, says, "The timing of the show fits well with the current scenario of cricket in the country. India has just won the T20 World Cup and a show of this kind is likely to fare well with its target audience."

Industry observers say this new genre has huge potential if nurtured well, especially in these sports friendly times. "In the past decade or so, we have seen a dozen movies based on sports, be it 'Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander', 'Maalamal', 'Iqbal' or the latest 'Chak De! India'," says Radhakrishnan.

Experts feel that this is merely the beginning for sports fiction on television, with so many channels coming up and sports hitting a new high this year. "In next 12 months, quite a few youth channels are expected to launch, and probably in order to attract youth, channels will have to bank on sports fiction. So, expect many more soaps where the lead actor will not be an industrialist or an executive, but a cricketer or a footballer. Also, with other sports including hockey, soccer, etc., doing so well, it gives the channels all the more space to experiment in the sports fiction space," says Malik.

Wouldn't it have been better for SET to introduce the new sports fiction genre on a bigger platform, say, Sony, rather than the second rung SAB? "Not really. SAB is targeting the youth and it should attract the youth more than anyone else," says Radhakrishnan.

Malik believes that it's important for SET to get big shows on SAB as well in the same way as STAR introduced 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge' and 'Nach Baliye' on STAR One.