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The only way to stay in the game, when it concerns Indian television, is to keep changing tracks. After being on the top, the Zee Network has seen many ups and downs as competition became stiff over the years. It forced Zee to reinvent itself — with a fresh strategy and look — at regular intervals. The latest reinvention exercise undertaken by it saw the unveiling of a new logo and the launch of two new shows, apart from several changes in its ongoing series.
According to Aakash Chawla, marketing head — National Channels, Zee TV and Zee Cinema, the three-dimensional logo, without any border or box around it, implies the "new out-of-the-box strategy". As part of this strategy, Zee TV is launching two new fiction shows, Shobha Somnath Ki and Mrs Kaushik Ki Paanch Bahuen, along with a first-of-its-kind non-fiction show, India Ke Jaanbaaz.
Going by their business history, Zee's latest efforts don't come as a surprise. The channel, launched in October 1992, was the country's first General Entertainment Channel (GEC), paving the way for Star Plus and, much later, Sony. Their contemporary shows, such as Banegi Apni Baat, Tara, Campus, Sailaab and Hasratein, ruled home entertainment in the the early 1990s. After Star Plus' saas-bahu shows became TRP-toppers, Zee too hopped onto the bandwagon. "We have always tried to do something different. For instance, Bidaai started the trend for small-town dramas and Jhansi Ki Rani brought back historical shows on TV," Chawla insists.
Of late, however, the channel has been struggling to stay in the race with a number of their shows going off air unceremoniously. Apno Ke Liye Geeta Ka Dharma Yudh went off air in May after barely a six month long stint. Bhagonwali, Sanjog Se Bani Sanjini and 12/24 Karol Bagh shared a similar fate. Only Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Keejo and Jhansi Ki Rani seem to be doing well. "We have never been lucky with the 10 pm slot," explains Chawla. He hopes to change that now with Mrs Kaushik. "It is the story of five young daughters-in-law who deal with the family elders with a modern approach. Shobha Somnath Ki, that focusses on young Shobha, will appeal to children too," says Chawla.
Despite the talks of renewing its strategy, Zee seems hesitant to take a big leap. Instead, it is testing waters with new shows that focus on younger audience while retaining some of its older shows, such as Yahaan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli and Choti Bahu. Changes are being made in existing soaps as well. "Pavitra Rishta underwent a generation leap to give it a contemporary angle and the protagonist in Ram Milaye Jodi is a working girl," says Chawla.
Deeya Singh, who has worked closely with the channel since its inception and has produced some of their successful shows such as Banegi Apni Baat and Choti Bahu, believes that a change in content was required. She feels that Zee's revamp should be able to get back its depleting audience. "Our country is youth dominated, but there are thousands of women who form our key audience base. Going with the revamp strategy, our storytelling will take a more positive turn in Choti Bahu in an attempt to balance both kinds of audience," says Singh.
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