When Sanjivani - A Medical Boon premiered on January 16, 2002, at 9.00 pm, STAR Plus' New Year resolutions became clear to viewers and planners alike. The broadcaster was on the lookout for a suitable replacement to KBC, which had run its course having achieved what it had set out to do, namely, secure the 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm slot for STAR.
Experimentation was the new buzzword for the channel and programming executives were going the whole hog to ensure just that. Sanjivani, produced by Cinevistaas Ltd, seemed an appropriate choice for a channel testing new genres.
Not that the medical angle was unfamiliar to Indian audiences. The hugely popular Lifeline, telecast on DD during the late eighties, had set a benchmark with its gritty portrayal of life in the hospital. Those of us who have watched it would instantly recall the sound of a beating heart and a spiraling cardiogram - the title track and imagery of the show.
But that was in the eighties when television programming was going through its first brush with creativity, far removed from the kitchen politics, glitz and glamour that characterise shows today.
Cut to the present and Sanjivani on STAR Plus, in a way, signaled the second coming of shows focused on hospital drama.
What began as the story of four interns - Juhi, Rahul, Simran and Omi - has, in its second year metamorphosed into an emotional drama with the storyline centered at the young Dr Juhi and her romantic liaisons with Dr Rahul, who is married to Dr Simran, and her soon-to-turn husband Dr Aman.
True to the dozen-odd soaps on television where the drama revolves around the interplay of positive and negative forces, the character of Dr Simran has acquired shades of grey serving as a counterpoint to the squeaky clean image of Dr Juhi, not to mention the frequent tiffs between Dr Rahul and Dr Aman, the latter being a cheat, out to extract his pound of flesh.
If Sanjivani is one more show in recent months to employ the 'turnaround' strategy, Atul Phadnis, director- S group, TAM Media Research, sees no harm in it. "Making changes in storylines is pretty similar to making packaging or formulations changes in brands," he says. "The challenges faced by a brand in the marketplace are also what a television show would go through in a competitive broadcasting scenario. The issues are not different. Hence, introducing storyline changes, promotions, advertising are all elements of the process to try and get in lapsed viewers or create new audience sets. The aim ultimately is to try and boost sagging viewership."
This attempt at boosting viewership figures seems to have augured well for Sanjivani. For the week of September 7 to13, 2003, for instance, the show garnered a TVR of 7.6. The week before, that is, August 31 to September 6, 2003, the show had a score of 6.8.
In the first week of August, precisely, August 3 to 9, 2003, Sanjivani was at its zenith at 8.5 while in the month of July, precisely, July 20 to 26, 2003, the show touched a figure of 7.3.
With viewers certainly sympathising with the trials and tribulations of the key foursome at Sanjivani Hospital, it is to be seen if Sanjivani's shifting storyline can engage promiscuous eyeballs over a period of time. © 2003 agencyfaqs!