The trailer of Star Plus’ latest offering ‘P.O.W.-Bandi Yuddh Ke,’ helmed by Bollywood director Nikhil Advani has been making quite some noise on social media. The finite fiction show happens to be an Indian adaptation of Israeli drama series, ‘Hatufim’ by Gideon Raff, and has been created around the 1999 Kargil War between India and Pakistan. Co-powered by by Tiago from Tata Motors and Patanjali Ayurved, the daily show will premiere after Diwali and comprise of 126 episodes. Gaurav Banerjee, President and Head of Content Studio, Star India, tells us more on its conceptualisation, target audience, its USP and the effort that’s put into it:
What made you take up this project in the first place?
Firstly, a drama themed on war and suffering has not happened in Indian television for a long time. Many of these dramas when they do focus, do it on the battleground. But this drama focuses on soldiers and their homes. What do they (families) go through when war happens and soldiers go missing? It seems rich terrain for drama and conflict, which drew us to this particular story.
Of course, Gideon Raff is an extremely talented storyteller and an opportunity to adapt his story was exciting as well.
How long have you been working on it?
We have been working on it for over a year. A lot of focus went on understanding the original Israeli show, created by Raff and his team first. It’s a complicated story and then we had to think about putting in Indian context followed by recreating characters in Indian setup. We have been shooting from this June.
What kind of viewership have you noticed for this kind of genre?
I don’t believe that viewers are interested in one genre or the other. They would want a lot of variety. There hasn’t been a big story told in this kind of genre and in this kind of setting. There’s a huge amount of freshness to it. That’s why we have gone ahead and made the show.
Can you give us an idea on the investment on this offering?
It’s an expensive show and more expensive than traditional drama shows. Hopefully, the trailer gives you the evidence of where the money is going. It’s gone into high quality technicians, research and development, writing and great cast. We are shooting since June so there are a lot of days of production, significantly higher than what we normally do. This is where the money is.
With the show are you targeting any particular age group?
It will target families and obviously young viewers. Hopefully, this form of drama has universal appeal which is inclusive of men and women.
How do you differentiate it from others?
We have started the show with a trailer, that itself is a differentiator. We are telling people right away it’s a finite series with 126 episodes that moves at a fast pace. Music is a very important part of what we have created. There is a lot more you will discover as the show unfolds. These are the few dimensions important to us, something which we have done differently from the past.
We have tried to up the game on how it looks. The work that Advani and his team has done is cinematic. You get a glimpse of that in the trailer. The intention is to take the television experience for our viewers to the next level.
You have been experimenting with finite shows since 2014. What kind of response have you received? Can they co-exist with infinite series?
Star Plus has been at the privilege of being the number 1 destination for the viewers for many years. We need to be at the forefront of experimentation. Some of the finites have worked, some hasn’t but we need to keep trying. ‘Mahabharata’ which we ran for a year did very well. ‘Sumit Sambhal Lega’ was also successful for certain set of audience. When you do a finite series you have the potential of telling the story in a compact manner and getting to the next level in terms of production. You can shoot over larger number of days. Those are advantages. Television audience continue to demand more and we have to find ways of creating different stories. This is our continued effort in learning and understanding and hopefully improving our game in finite series as well.
Finite series can and must co-exist with infinite series. There is space for all kind of stories.