How lucky would Rahul Mahajan be for NDTV Imagine?

By Mitra Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | February 01, 2010
Rakhi Ka Swayamvar grabbed the maximum eyeballs for the channel last year. Now, Rahul Dulhaniya Le Jayega wants to repeat history

After Rakhi Sawant's much talked about Swayamvar, NDTV Imagine has set the stage for Rahul Mahajan's wedding.

Rakhi Ka Swayamvar proved to be lucky for the channel last year, garnering an average TVR of 2.8. In fact, the final episode garnered a TVR of 8.4 (C&S, 4+, HSM).

The question is whether NDTV Imagine will be second time lucky with Rahul Dulhaniya Le Jayega.

In its first avatar, Rakhi Ka Swayamvar engrossed the viewers for two reasons - first, it was a new format, so viewers were generally inquisitive; and second, Rakhi provided her own brand of entertainment. However, many viewers felt cheated, when the show did not culminate in marriage, but only in an engagement between the winner and Rakhi.

As Amit Ray, president and COO, Lintas Media Group, comments, "There was a lot of backlash post the show last year; it didn't fulfil its major objective, 'marriage', and turned out as a joke. NDTV Imagine has experimented with newer formats, but again, people felt cheated in Season 1. Unless there is a twist in the content, this one will be a letdown too."

This is why the channel, this time, has ensured that Mahajan keeps on saying, "It's a Shaadi, not a Swayamvar".

To establish the seriousness on Mahajan's part, Nikhil Madhok, vice-president, marketing, communication and brand management, NDTV Imagine, claims that Mahajan has selected girls for the show with whom his horoscope has matched; and the grand finale of the show will be held on the day suggested by Mahajan's astrologer.

However, other industry observers feel that the show could be watched for the entertainment quotient, irrespective of whether or not Mahajan gets married in the end. As Manas Mishra, head, Mudra Connext, opines, "Rakhi Ka Swayamvar made the channel's share of television go up by 40 per cent last year. Just one programme delivered a huge dividend. But subsequently, it came down after the show went off-air. Swayamvar is a known concept and adding new things can only make it interesting. Rahul Mahajan earned popularity through Big Boss Season 2 and this show will take it further."

Another media observer, Nikhil Rangnekar, executive director, West, Starcom India, suggests, "While Rakhi found favour with male audiences; with Rahul, things may be diametrically opposite. People might watch the show for the sake of format."

A similar opinion is voiced by Pintoo Guha, the producer of Uttran on Colors. He says, "It's not always necessary to intellectualise this medium of entertainment. At time the viewers would just like to sit back and enjoy the television."

To reassert the expected success of the show, Madhok says, "This year, the registration for participating in the show has increased by 40 per cent." While last year, the total registration was 12,515; this year, the figure has gone up to 16,755. However, one should also keep in the mind the eagerness that exists to participate in a reality show.

The channel has made room for Rahul Dulhaniya Le Jayega in the early primetime slot of 8-9 pm. For this, the show, Meera, which currently airs at 8 pm, will go off-air; and one of the channel's more popular shows, Jyoti, will be shifted to the 7:30 pm slot.

As part of the promotional activities for the show, hoardings stating 'Who is going to be Mrs Rahul Mahajan' are seen all over the city. Another activity involves putting up special hoardings in localities such as Mahim, Bandra and Juhu. On this hoarding, Mahajan will be seen with a palanquin, in which the face cut-outs of the girls will be placed. The palanquin will unveil 'on and off'.

Season 2 also claims to have grown bigger and better in terms of production and content freshness.

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