"We've already taken the biggest risk there was": Ekta Kapoor on 'Naagin' sequel

By Anirban Roy Choudhury , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | October 25, 2016
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The second season of 'Naagin' went on air on Colors recently. We spoke to Ekta Kapoor, managing director, Balaji Telefilms, and Manisha Sharma, programming head, Colors, about the risks and challenges involved.

"We've already taken the biggest risk there was. We took a season break when 'Naagin' was at the very top and have now returned with the second season of the show. No risk can get greater than that," says Ekta Kapoor, managing director, Balaji Telefilms, when we asked her about the second season of 'Naagin' and the risks involved. Well, it looks like the gamble paid off as the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India ratings for Week 41 show that Season 2 of the supernatural drama in its opening week emerged as the No.1 show in the Hindi GEC genre.

Naagin

The show holds the No.1 position in the urban market, while in rural, its prequel 'Naagin' is ruling the roullete. The show, produced by Ekta Kapoor's Balaji Telefilms, which has re-started right from where it left off in Season 1, was pulled off by Colors when it ruled the ratings charts, and according to Kapoor, there could have been no 'greater' risk than that.

Hindi GEC Rural

When a show does well, the sequel becomes a challenging one as the expectations are always high. And, living up to it is certainly one of the biggest challenges, feels Kapoor. Apart from that, the czarina of TV says there is also, at the same time, the need to showcase newer nuances of entertainment while staying true to its core concept.

Hindi GEC Urban

"The balance between characterisation, narrative, and VFX (visual effects) needs to be zeroed in on again while heightening the viewer experience," says Kapoor.

Hindi GEC

So, does the 'little new-little familiar' formula for sequels apply in this case, too? "Television is riddled by uncertainty. There is no sure shot formula for a new show or a sequel," is Kapoor's immediate response. "But yes, the familiarity does help. It brings the benefit of not having to develop every character from scratch and setting the context in terms of concept and production value since that has already been highlighted to viewers in the past," says Kapoor.

Ekta Kapoor

Manisha Sharma

When 'Naagin' was first launched by Colors, it stirred up a progressive versus regressive debate in the Indian television content fraternity. But, the show was pitched at the rural audience and the BARC rural data rollout, and assumptions were that a concept like 'Naagin', a supernatural drama based on snakes and snake charmers would rake in huge rural ratings. The story ended up being very different as it topped the urban market week after week. Kapoor sees no reality in the assumption as she recollects the pitch had nothing to do with BARC India's rural data as the rollout of the same did not have any influence on Balaji Telefilms' decision-making. "'Naagin' was always designed to be a disruptive property catering to urban viewers through its various production-led elements," she says.

After Colors tasted success with'Naagin', the supernatural angle found a prime time presence in most other channels, and many used the snake formula as well. But, not many witnessed similar results. So, has the appetite for 'naagins' or supernatural content dried up?

"No," feels Manisha Sharma, programming head, Colors. "When we introduced 'Naagin', it was the first-of-its-kind show on television. And then, it became a trendsetter which opened up a world of opportunities for other broadcasters and production houses. Over the past couple of months, the genre has developed further, and today, there is space for a lot more shows to co-exist. We believe that there continues to be a strong and loyal audience which will tune in for 'Naagin 2' even though other shows with a supernatural angle continue to air. As a channel, we will continue to innovate and be the trendsetters in bringing variety through our shows," she says.

The show is not just for those who are loyal and have seen the first season, but will also cater to those who did not watch the first season, Sharma asserts, "A lot of people did not watch 'Naagin's' first season because they had their apprehensions about the concept. The buzz and intrigue associated with the show is universal, which guarantees that those who did not watch the show in its first season will want to follow it closely this season," she says.

'Naagin' had Chutki Mouth Freshener as the presenting sponsor from November-December, 2015, followed by Dabur Almond Hair Oil as the presenting sponsor for the period between January-February, 2016. Emami's Navratna Cool Talc followed Dabur Almond Hair Oil in March 2016, and stayed as the presenting sponsor until the end of the season. Ghadi Detergent associated with 'Naagin' as 'powered by' sponsors between February-March 2016. Season 2 started with Oppo Camera Phones as the presenting sponsors.

"For us, 'Naagin' has always been a premium show, so I am sure that the ad rates will also reflect the premium," opines Sharma.

The ad rates for a 10-second slot during the first season was close to Rs 1.5 lakh, while the per episode production cost was Rs 15 lakh. Both numbers will go up by at least 20 per cent as per expert estimation. It now remains to be seen if the weekend rating rulers manage to continue the start it has got.

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