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MTV bets on Balaji to push up viewership

By , agencyfaqs! | In | June 30, 2004
The music channel has joined hands with production house Balaji Telefilms to present a Hindi serial, which has a talent hunt tied in as well


Youth channel MTV has joined hands with production house Balaji Telefilms to present a a 39-episode Hindi serial, Kitni Mast Hai Zindagi, whose actors will be selected through a talent hunt.

The serial will be on air by the third week of September.

The show, which is MTV's first shot at fictional programming, will be preceded by a nation-wide talent hunt -- called the Screen Test. The talent hunt will commence on July 1 with the preliminary round of auditions to be held in 107 cities, which will conclude by the end of the month. 12 participants will be shortlisted post the first round to be groomed for the finale, which will result in six winners.

These winners will be absorbed into the serial by Balaji and the entire exercise of selection and grooming will be captured in a reality programme to be telecast over six half-hour episodes beginning August-end, says Alex Kuruvilla, managing director, MTV Networks India.

"There is a lot of thinking that has gone behind Kitni Mast Hai Zindagi and the Screen Test. We are not restricting ourselves to the music space only, but panning out to the Hindi general entertainment segment as well."

Investment in the venture is sizeable, but Kuruvilla declines to spell out the details.

Since the channel has just turned pay on May 1, the challenge for MTV is to maintain steady viewership across the 24-million homes where it is viewed regularly. There is stiff competition from rival CHannel [V] as well.

Kuruvilla maintains that almost 35-40 per cent of the audience segment, which is the 15-34 age-group tunes into the channel, and the new programming initiative should give a further boost to viewership figures. "We are looking to steal audience share from the general entertainment channels, and slotting of the show will be critical," he says.

There is a possibility that the serial will be extended beyond the stipulated 39 episodes, in case it goes down well with the audience.

The serial, for the record, revolves around a small-town girl Ananya, who travels to Mumbai to achieve her dreams. "It is, however, not a fairy-tale story, but a serial about growing up, about morality and sensibility versus personal choice," says Ektaa Kapoor, creative director, Balaji Telefilms.

Emphasis, she claims, is on toning down melodrama, being real, and above all, adopting an urbane, sophisticated approach to the show. "The usual sweetness and warmth of a Balaji show will be there, but yet, Kitni Mast Hai Zindagi will be different from the others." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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