Imagine (earlier known as NDTV Imagine) has experimented with various reality show formats over the past few years. Most of them have been concepts that have been relatively new for the Indian audience. Take ‘Rakhi Ka Swayamvar’, ‘Rakhi Ka Insaaf’ or ‘Raaz Pichle Janam Ka’, for example. Besides the experimental reality shows, the channel seems to have forged this special connection with the volatile and vivacious Rakhi Sawant.
It would be fair to say that the more popular or more talked about shows for the channel have been the ones in which Rakhi Sawant has been the protagonist or a participant. ‘Rakhi Ka Swayamvar’ opened with a rating of 4.12 TVR (C&S, 4+, HSM) and maintained an average rating of 3.04 TVR, as compared to non-Rakhi based shows such as ‘Raaz pichle janam ka’, which had opened with 3.36 TVR and had an average rating of 1.69 TVR. ‘Rahul Dulhaniya Le Jayega’ had an opening rating of 2.14 TVR and maintained an average rating of 2.09 TVR.
The latest show with Rakhi, ‘Rakhi Ka Insaaf’, has just aired its first episode and the opening episode got a rating of 1.9 TVR. However, the show has already run into some legal trouble. Prior media reports suggest that a human rights activist has written to the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, regarding the content in the show.
While some would say that the channel is making a smart move by using an outspoken personality like Rakhi, others argue that the channel is playing it safe by using her in various bold formats.
Talking about the shows, Divya Radhakrishnan, President, TME, said, “‘Rakhi ka Insaaf’ at first sounded absurd, but the kind of characters that came on the first episode (and if that is the flavour of things to come) couldn’t have been handled by anyone else but Rakhi.”
Carat India’s MD, Kartik Iyer, opined that the dependence on a single celebrity was always a challenging one and there had been cases in the past where channels had used a single celebrity for a long period of time. He added, “However, the key is to have one figure who has continuing appeal. In the current case, I am not sure whether it was a good idea to continue with Rakhi Sawant or if the channel could have brought in someone with better appeal, especially in the context of their programme on justice.”
Talking about the probability of viewers getting bored with the same celebrity, he pointed out that it depended not only on the celebrity but also on the programme. “If Imagine is able to create a fresh programme that has appeal and the celebrity matches the programme requirements, I think the channel would have a winner and that is true for all channels,” he noted.
However, he added that in the current scenario he was not sure whether Rakhi Sawant was the best choice for Imagine. “It does seem like they are creating content based on the celebrity rather than finding the best host/ celebrity for great content,” he added.
Radhakrishnan from TME asked, “If Rakhi can carry a show, then why not? As far as ‘Raaz pichle janam ka’ is concerned, it had no celebs in Season One. It’s now that celebs will be on the show. Celebs up close and real always have some amount of audience draw.”
Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how the association of the channel and Rakhi will continue further with future shows as well.