Alokananda Chakraborty & Prajjal Saha

Sony serves middle-class milieu with new serial

After Kkusum and Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin, new serial Ye Meri Life Hai is another instance of Sony’s programming reflecting middle-class lives and situations

For all those tired of watching multi-level conspiracies being hatched by festooned women living in miniature palaces, there's a new programme premiering on television that promises to be closer to real life, and more importantly, in tune with typical middle-class family values. Close on the heels of the success of Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin, India's No 2 general entertainment channel, Sony, has launched another serial, Ye Meri Life Hai, which has a protagonist from the middle-class milieu.

Ye Meri Life Hai, which premiers on May 3 in the 10.00 pm slot, is the story of a middle-class girl who lives in one of Mumbai's low-profile suburban colonies. The plot revolves around the girl's attempts at fulfilling her dream of becoming a film director, while coping with the day-to-day problems that she encounters in the city's trendiest college, where the majority of students are from the upper strata of society.

After Kkusum (which started off as a story of a middle-class girl, before shifting tracks to embrace a more tested formula) and Jassi, Ye Meri Life Hai is another instance of Sony's programming reflecting middle-class lives and situations (for the record, Jassi and Kkusum together managed fetching a viewership of 6 million, growing at the rate of 42.4 per cent in one year). "Jassi proved to us that our viewers are ready to accept newer and fresher alternatives, and our latest initiative, Ye Meri Life Hai, will help the channel build viewership in the 10.00 pm slot," says Sunil Lulla, executive vice-president, Sony Entertainment Television.

With Sony clearly betting on the ethos of middle-class Indians, the question is whether Ye Meri Life Hai, along with Jassi, will start a new trend in Indian television, where real, middle-class characters will increasingly populate serials and programmes. Hiren Pandit, general manager, MindShare, believes it's too early to judge as Indian audience is "too fickle". He, however, adds, "The age group that Sony is targeting (the 18-34 age group) constantly looks for change and keeps shifting its choices, which means Ye Meri Life Hai can be a success, provided the star cast is impressive and the production standards are maintained."

An interesting point about Ye Meri Life Hai is that the serial (which would air Monday to Thursday at 10.00 pm) is in direct competition with STAR Plus' Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, which is invariably among the top five programmes on the TVR charts. Scheduling the new serial in the 10.00 pm slot could do the trick for Sony, but there's a risk attached - the popularity of Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki. Sulina Menon, chief executive officer, north and east, Carat Media Services, is of the opinion that the risk is worth taking. "Although viewer fatigue of the saas-bahu serials has not completely taken over, viewers are looking forward to newer concepts and genres," she says. Atul Phadnis, vice-president and head, TAM Media Research, differs. "Unlike the news channels where the subject is very topical, the trend for the entertainment channel is very stable and takes time to change," he points out. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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