Alokananda Chakraborty

Malini Iyer: Will Sahara's comeback gambit work?

The show picked up a decent score in the first week of telecast, but saw a

decline in its second week, according to TAM data

For the television industry perpetually on the lookout for the next big hook, formulaic ideas may seem to be a bit too trite if the channel in question has set for itself the task of breaking into the top league. For Sahara Manoranjan, the mass entertainment channel from the Sahara Group, the challenge of ensuring top of mind recall in a space crowded by players such as STAR, Sony and ZEE has determined its programming strategy, more so, over the last one year when the channel decided to turn a new leaf in its three-year existence.

What followed was Karishma, The Miracles of Destiny, and what became of it is, of course, public knowledge. Far from giving up, the channel has pinned its hopes on Sridevi-starrer Malini Iyer, which premiered on January 19, 2004, and forthcoming shows such as Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam featuring Raveena Tandon, and a show starring big screen's Dream Girl Hema Malini.

Malini Iyer, which is telecast at 9.00 pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, has brought some cheer to channel executives with first-week ratings pegged at 1.9 and 1.4 in the base population of 4-plus audiences in cable and satellite homes in Hindi-speaking markets. In the second week, the show delivered ratings of 0.9 and 1.1 for the same target group, and despite the dip in figures, Satish Menon, president, Sahara TV, would like to believe that the show will gather steam in the ensuing weeks. "It is only after an eight-week period that we will know, which way the show is headed," he says. "Typically, a sitcom like Malini Iyer is episodic in nature, so depending on which episode has enthused audiences more, the ratings will accordingly reflect it," he states.

In comparison to the burst of activity on Karishma, Sahara has been a tad low key on Malini Iyer choosing to use media strategically to try and induce sampling. An on-air teaser campaign sans Sridevi and reminiscent of Sony's early-day efforts on Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin was unleashed a couple of months prior to the launch of the show. A similar campaign was executed in print, outdoor and Internet a month before launch to increase buildup, points out Menon. "On the day of the launch, commercial time between 6.00 pm and 9.00 pm on the channel was devoted to Malini Iyer promos," he states.

Besides, the channel also utilised its events and movies platform to aggressively promote the show apart from using on-ground initiatives to increase its awareness in smaller towns and areas, states Menon. Mumbai, in particular, saw hectic buildup with electronic screens on 12 railway stations showcasing show reels of the serial on the day of the launch. The advertising and marketing spends on Malini Iyer are in the region of Rs 8-10 crore, and the second phase of activity will see the channel concentrating on the essential attributes of the show, primarily, its biggest draw Sridevi.

Touted as her comeback vehicle, the channel is hoping to cash in on the actress' penchant for comedy. Malini Iyer, a South Indian woman, is married into a north Indian family with the story dwelling at length about her trails and tribulations in the Sabharwal household, albeit in a lighter vein. Directed by Satish Kaushik and produced by Sridevi's husband Boney Kapoor, the channel, through the show, is hoping to revive the actress' big-screen magic. Whether it is successful in its endeavour is anybody's guess. For now, though, the channel is putting all its marketing muscle to break into the big league. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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