Change is what Sahara Manoranjan is looking at and the channel aims at doing it all the way. Come June second week and the channel has a new look, the responsibility of which lies with branding company Believe.com. In regards to content, the channel has commissioned 17 programmes with more happening. Following a phase-wise roll out, August 2004 means a changed Sahara.
Sahara Manoranjan’s Sr VP, Programming, Triptii Sharma informs, “We have identified the strengths of each production house and then commissioned programmes. What we have also done is roped in popular names that haven’t been seen on television. The aim is differentiation but more importantly, quality.”
Sharma explains that the channel has signed Ram Gopal Varma to make a TV show. This is the first time the renowned director will try his talent on television and he has signed an exclusivity deal with Sahara. Also the channel has pulled in Shekhar Suman for a variety show. As per Sharma, the show will be a mix of stand up comedy, interviews and other such aspects, which are ‘Suman’s forte’.
Sharma expresses that Karishma… is a commitment, which will be completed but the channel will change its slot. Speaking more on the plan of action in terms of content, she says, “We are working on the weekdays first, which will simultaneously expand to action on the weekends. Then we will work on our Sunday mornings and afternoons.”
First on this action plan are two dailies, Cinevistaas’ Saathiya Pyaar ka Naya Ehsaas and Creative Eye’s Ruby Duby Hub Dub. The channel is putting together a comedy band, which will comprise of four weeklies. Aao bahan Chughli karein, from the Claxton productions’ stable, Hats off production’s Mein Office tere Aangan Ki, Zaroorat hai Zarrorat Hai again from Cinevistaas and Tony and Deeya Singh’s DJ’s productions’ Bal Bal Bache. “Presently, we are looking at the 11.00 pm band for these. There is nothing of this kind on television anywhere on this band and so this slot,” puts in Sharma. These combined with the present shows, Saahab, Biwi Aur Ghulam, Raat Hone ko Hai and Mailini Iyer, amongst others will comprise of weekday programming.
Following the footsteps of Raat…, the channel is experimenting with some weekly science fiction as well. Placing on its Friday and Saturday slots, it has two of Contiloe’s works respectively, Jaal, Jaadu, Janardhan and Avishkar – Ek rakshak.
There is more action planned on Sahara weekends apart from this. The Friday line-up constitutes of the unprecedented 3-D show, Hello Mr Bhoot. Also the Boogie Woogie team Naved Jaffery, Javed Jaffery and Ravi Behl have a musical talent show here. Another show in the Friday slot is No.13 produced by Glenn and Ankush.
The channel has also put together another musical property, The Brian Silas Show for its Saturday line up. This followed by Avishkar… will lead into weekly telefilms. “These will be two hour films, aired only on Sahara. We intend to show films from all genres. Given the disloyal weekend audience, these are slotted for 8.30 pm,” Sharma elucidates. Directors like Kalpana Lazmi, Bhupen Hazarika, Sanjay Chel, Vipul Shah and Deepak Tijori have been signed for these Telefilms.
Moving on to Sunday mornings, Siddharth Basu’s Synergy has been roped in for a game show and Sunil Agnihotri will present a fantasy show. A musical on the lines of Antakshari, Chal Shuru Ho Ja produced by Priya Dutt is also planned. Apart from these, a cookery show, Naram Garam by Sanjay Vermani and a film magazine show Bollywood Aur kya will complete the Sundays.
“TV is a great story well told,” says Sharma, “We have been very careful in the kinds of show we have selected. Needless to say, we are involved right from the beginning – screening, scriptwriting, character and characterisation, everything for all the shows. And the signing up of exclusive names should lure in more viewers.”
Speaking more on the change in the look of the channel she divulges, “The channel packaging is going to be completely different. The station id, promo packaging, menu cards, the colour schemes, all will be changed to look more contemporary.”
In the current scene on Indian television, Sahara Manoranjan is one of the low rankers on the TVRs card. However, the channel has not made any discounts in terms of investing on the channel and bringing forth new properties. But whether or not these initiatives pay, is just a question of time.