Between July and September this year, ZEE launched a handful of new soaps, all aimed at the woman in the family, and sporting an upwardly mobile, trendy look, be it in the name, cast or storyline. These shows were Love Marriage (launched on July 29, 2002), Kittie Party (August 19) and Lipstick (September 9). Though these shows cannot boast of strong TVR scores to vouch for their performances (they haven't yet made it to the TAM list of Top 100 programmes), yet the numbers clearly show which one has hit bull's eye and which has not.
For all its initial promise, Love Marriage, a story that revolves around four women in Mumbai, will cease to be on air, come November 17, 2002. In its place, Astivta - Ek Prem Kahani, a soap highlighting the relationship between a younger man and an older woman will premiere on that day (a Sunday) at 9.00 pm. "It is an important slot for us," says Apurva Purohit, president, ZEE TV. "Love Marriage did carry on for five months. But I guess one has to take tough decisions at times."
Backed by strong word-of-mouth, the Shobhaa De-authored Kittie Party, on the other hand, seems to be going strong, having consolidated its position at the 10.00 pm time slot. "Constant feedback suggests that people are watching the programme," claims Purohit. "The content is fabulous, the story is fast-paced and gripping with a high level of gloss," she adds.
Describing Kittie Party, as a "bigger phenomenon in smaller towns", Purohit insists the show is actually a "mass product". "Apart from the name, which is urban, Kittie Party, in reality, is the story of every woman. People can identify with it, making it so much more appealing."
Slotted late into the night (11.00 pm, to be precise), Lipstick is probably the only one that stands at a slight disadvantage. But Purohit justifies its late-night positioning by describing the show as a "niche product" (read adult). "There is Bollywood, gossip, interaction between two women - which, while being in with the times, is also ahead of it, in a way. ZEE has had a legacy of setting trends and exploring formats. Hasratein, for example, was a very successful programme that revolved around an extra-marital affair," she adds.
Incidentally, the director of Hasratein, Ajay Sinha is the producer (along with wife, Sangeeta) and director of Astivta as well. He also directed Pallavi Joshi and Harsh Chhaya, both popular television stars, in Justujoo that ran for a year on ZEE.
Astivta has Nikki Aneja and Varun Badhola (of Koshish…Ek Asha fame, where he played the mentally challenged husband) in the lead roles of Dr Simran Mathur and Abhimanyu. Harsh Chhaya is cast in the role of Dr Manas, a friend and silent admirer of Simran. "You could call it a trend-setter, " claims Purohit. "We love being different and are pretty gung-ho about this show," she adds.
Anayalsts however are keeping their fingers crossed considering there is very little in terms of TVR figures to support ZEE's claims. "I would have expected quicker returns, now that ZEE is seriously concentrating on getting a top TVR grosser through its movie platform, which ensures a certain amount of captive audience that can be routed to its other programmes," says Tapan Pal, president, Zenith Media. "The success of this entire strategy hinges on how well ZEE is able to convert non-users into users," he adds.
In fact, this is precisely why ZEE turned programming rules upside down and launched Thursday Premieres on October 10, 2002. The idea being to capitalise on a ready audience and push them into viewing other programmes on the channel.
To this end, it has been aggressively promoting a clutch of programmes during the movie band on Thursdays. These include Kittie Party, Kohi Apna Sa, Jeena Isika Naam Hain, Lipstick, Aati Rahengi Baharein and now, Astivta. "Every programme is important to us; but we realise we require a few strong products," claims Purohit.
Whether this aggressive promotion will help ZEE woo a bigger share of the audience and break into the Top 100 list (currently the online lotteries and Thursday Premieres dominate this hallowed list), only time will tell. Â© 2002 agencyfaqs!