Alokananda Chakraborty

Big is better for Sahara

The Hindi general entertainment channel will be launching an international talent show apart from a host of new programmes between April and June this year

The year 2003 is crucial for Sahara TV. After three years of a none-too-exciting existence in the C&S space, the channel has decided to go whole hog to reinvent itself. The thrust - good content with big stars and big production values. "Big stars are a huge draw," avers V Basvraj, vice-president, programming, Sahara TV. "And our focus is definitely to try and be in the big league," he adds.

Sridevi-starrer Hamari Bahu Malini Iyer and the Karisma Kapoor's launch pad going by her first name will premiere in April this year. The channel is readying itself for the first-ever international Indian talent show in May. Titled Grooves, it will be anchored by popular VJ Jaaved Jaaferi, and will be an hour-long weekly extravaganza.

Unlike other talent shows, which are a conjunction of disjointed episodes, Grooves will lead up to the "Song and Dance World Championship" (an annual event) with every passing week. "The show gives you the feel of an Olympic event on the music front, " says Jaaferi.

Auditions will be held in over 40 cities leading to 28 zonal preliminaries and four zonal finals followed by the All India Championship. Simultaneously, international auditions/finals will be held in nine countries including the US, the UK, Canada, South Africa, UAE, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and Mauritius post which the respective country champions will converge in Mumbai for the mega final. This event will be organised on a grand scale with the Indian Song & Dance Awards (a separate set of awards focusing on the best of music and dance in a given year) also to be given out at the same time.

If the logistical effort is huge, the prizes are even bigger. National champions will walk away with trophies and five mid-segment cars whereas the world champions will take home five Mercedes Benz cars with loads of goodies, courtesy Sahara TV. "We see Grooves as an excellent property and will invest in it," says Chaitali Chakravarty, commissioning editor - programming, Sahara TV.

Basvraj prefers to concentrate on the big picture. "Reinvention is an on-going process. Shows that do not perform well will be replaced with new and better ones," he says. Also to premiere between April and June will be a thriller and soap, though Basvraj declines to comment on them. "You will see a number of launches during this period," is all he would reveal at this point in time.

Apart from beefing up its programming line-up, Sahara has been working on its on-air look as well. "We have been experimenting with colour schemes and designs, " re-iterates Basvraj. "The idea is to be visually appealing and pleasant." Picture quality has improved since the channel went digital in December last year. The channel is uplinked from its earth station based in Noida near Delhi giving better control to the programming team. "Earlier we would uplink from Singapore but now we don't have to depend on anybody else," he says.

The channel has also acquired the C&S rights of a number of films including recent blockbusters such as Aankhen, Hum Kissi Se Kam Nahin, Company and Khushi. "We are building a library," declares Basvraj. "However, the emphasis is on good content implying that we are looking at a mix of old and new movies," he adds. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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