Alokananda Chakraborty

Kahin naa Kahin Koi Hai: Thumbs down to reality matchmaking

A first hand look at why Sony’s answer to KBC failed to draw the masses

It was a bomb waiting to explode, and when it finally did, nobody seemed surprised, not the media analysts at least. Sony's decision to wind up the Madhuri-Dixit hosted Kahin naa Kahin Koi Hai (KNKKH) on lead channel SET signals an end to its experiment with reality TV, more specifically matrimony.

Written off on day one itself, KNKKH ironically had much riding on it. Opulent sets, flower-bedecked jhulas, Madhuri as host and reality matchmaking as a pristine concept. For the No 2 television network, nothing seemed a more befitting reply to Bachchan and Kaun Banega Crorepati. But alas, it wasn't to be.

Says Richa Arora, vice-president, strategic planning, FCB-Ulka, "I would sound harsh, but KNKKH was artificial, contrived and stilted. We had conducted a poll on our intranet quizzing people whether the show would work and 88 to 90 per cent of the respondents felt it wouldn't."

If that is some indicator of KNKKH's tepid run, a closer look at the reasons behind its failure could probably make the picture clearer. "I think the basic flaw existed in the concept and execution," avers Arora. "The average Indian seemed disinclined to finding a life partner under the arc lights. Couples on the show tried being natural but failed miserably. And how could anybody expect them to be natural when four cameras are panning them?"

Reiterates Ashish Bhasin, president, Initiative Media, "Every new format has a huge element of risk involved. In my opinion, it wasn't the concept, but its estimation or underestimation that was flawed. The fact is that KNKKH wasn't a great programme at all. It simply didn't strike a chord with the consumer, which is imperative if a show has to do well."

Concept, execution…in the mounting pile, somewhere lies the treatment of the programme as well. Asserts a Mumbai-based senior media planner, "KNKKH was frankly too ahead of its time for this country. People here are not too comfortable watching reality TV as is the case abroad. Add to this, the awkward moments between the couple and the two sets of parents were not treated too well by UTV (the production house). All this combined to create immense viewer fatigue."

He cites an interesting example to emphasise his point. "When KBC got its first crorepati, Harshvardhan Navathe, STAR reshot the entire footage simply because they weren't happy with his responses! The fact is that you have two options with reality TV, you go with spontaneous footage or you tweak it. KNKKH was too real which left viewers high and dry since they are exposed to awkward moments day in and day out."

The final nail in the coffin - the serial didn't get enough trials. "This is one factor you could directly attribute to Sony. There simply weren't enough cross-media promotions that would generate greater number of trials for the show, which means more number of people walking in to sample the product on any given day. Even if it did happen, it came too late - a week or 10 days prior to the opening episode, resulting in lower ratings." © 2002 agencyfaqs!