If last April witnessed six new shows and a seasonal approach to programming for Sony, this time it is all about expanding primetime and counter programming. In ‘Kkusum’ and ‘Jassi’, the channel has significantly secured its 9 to 10 pm slot.
Taking it further, the channel now has an original show on its 10 pm band. The much written about Optimystix’ daily, ‘Ye Meri Life Hai’ goes on air on May 3, 2004 giving Sony a chance to accumulate some more in terms of TRPs. The concept of the show, as per the channel, is in tandem with Sony’s claim of inducing pep and froth in its content. Falling in line with ‘Jassi…’, ‘Kkehna…’, ‘Saakshi’, this show as well aims at presenting the contemporary Indian woman, which as per Sunil Lulla, EVP, SET India is the guiding light of the current Sony programming.
“It is the evolving attributes of the Indian woman that has led us to bring this kind of content. The protagonists represent the modern woman who doesn’t just revolve around households or delves in kitchen politics but irrespective of her age, wants to be a good daughter, a good mother and a good wife,” says Lulla.
‘Ye…’ is the story of a middle-class girl who aspires to be a film producer. The programme comes across as a light-hearted drama inclusive of college settings, which helps it exude a young look. Incidentally, this is the first daily to come on the channel under the stewardship of Tarun Katial, who joined as EVP, Programming and Response, only three months ago. The Creative Director on the show is Gursheel Walia who quit Star last October to join Optimystix. The creative team's task with Ye... to eat into Star's Kahaani... should prove to be an interesting one.
Looking at Sony’s programming in entirety, where the channel keeps speaking about froth and pep, don’t weekends have their share of melodrama? Lulla explains, “Yes, it does. But this is counter programming and it has paid off very well for us. The kind of shows that we offer on weekends is more serious than what competition offers. That is creating an alternative choice for the viewer. Same trend applies for our weekday slots. Where there is drama on other channels, we have more lively and fun content. This is a reason why ‘Jassi…’ made a mark and this is why ‘Ye…’ as well would be special.”
What about the seasonal approach, which was the channel’s main focus this time last year? Lulla responds, “The seasonal approach worked for us but now we are in a faster pace. In about three month’s time, we plan to have completely built our 7.30 to 11 pm line-up across the week. To achieve that, our strategy has also evolved.”
The channel continues its endeavour of bringing Sony out as an alternative choice to viewers. May and June should see releases and subsequent development of different time bands on the channel. Not to mention the big ticket property in the reality drama 'Pop Idols' that Sony would air later in the year.
The performance of ‘Ye…’ will play a crucial role in the channel’s progress now. ‘Jassi’ might have proved to be the driver but it is about time, it has support in adding to the channel and ‘Ye…’ is placed in the slot that would play that role. More on what the programme means to the channel, Katial explains, “It means that we have something on our 10 pm band now. But more importantly, it accentuates our promise of offering differentiated programming.”
He admits that the task at hand would not be an easy one. “It is fine to say that we will be different. But to bring it alive on television is difficult and that is what the focus is on,” Katial says. But the channel and the production house show much confidence that what is imagined on drawing boards does come across on screen.
With Ye..., Sony has its own Gujarati family to accompany the Marathi and Punjabi families in Kkusum and Jassi. Expansion indeed, but why is it always a woman's story that one sees? Don't Indian men have an interesting story to tell as well? "Just wait and watch," replies Lulla.