"Know It All" with Mr. Vivek Bahl !!
shows today are so much a part of our daily lives that we can't imagine
a day without them. As long as you watch a show, you become a party to
the story and get as involved as the characters. Sometimes it is hard to
tell what is real and what is not.
has undergone several phases of metamorphosis and through every phase,
it has looped in various kinds of audience within its fold. So what is
it that makes a show work? How do Channels take a call on what the
audience wants to watch? Once on air, and once it becomes popular, what
are the other factors that drive a show? So many questions run through
the mind of an audience to whom a show is beyond half an hour of mere
entertainment or a habit. Vivek
Bahl, who had earlier worked with Star Plus as the Executive Vice
President and is now associated with the launch and setting up of Mahua
Channel, shares the many what, where, how's and why's of daily soaps.
take you through the answers, from the point of view of the shows he
has been associated with, so that it is easier for you to understand the
other side of the story.
So what makes Yeh Rishta Kya Keh Lata Hai score over Geet and a Navya over Dill Mill Gaye or Miley Jab Hum Tum?
Vivek Bahl: In Television, it is really difficult to pin down why something works and why it doesn't. Having worked in the television industry for so long, I have been trying to understand it through research.
There are two different ends to it – Shows like Dill Mill Gaye and Miley Jab Hum Tum work because it gets maximum hits on Youtube but we have to balance it off with what gets us ratings. Lots of people wonder why Bidaai or Yeh Rishta does so much better than these shows. It is fair to have that view because we live in a city, we hang out with a certain kind of crowd who think all of them who we know watch the same shows we do like Geet or Dill Mill Gaye yet the ratings are so low.
This is where the other end comes in – it is important to understand that there is whole different India out there which has a very different culture, wherein the women folk can neither afford to nor do they have access to malls and the likes, so they remain at home during the evenings.
Those are the kind of people who are going to watch these shows a lot.
This is the reason why, at the same time, I wanted to do a show like Saathiya,
a new kind of saas bahu show with smaller day-to-day issues. Because,
firstly - on a channel like Star Plus we wanted to have all kinds of
shows and secondly - Saas Bahu had become a bad word, but there are many
people who are still interested, and am talking of people who haven't
had access to television or cable till few years ago, when Kyunki Saas
Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi was aired. There have been new television viewers in India since then.
Moreover, people who want to watch more evolved, younger content like Miley Jab Hum Tum are those who have access to net, who can catch it on Youtube or even catch repeats after midnight if they want to. They
have many options whereas there is a whole other universe with people
who do not have other means of entertainment. It is about creating a
What do you think of a show like Geet that started off with a very strong
social message but went to become only an out and out love story
Vivek Bahl: I am no longer a part of Geet. I was part of the show only for initial 3 to 4
episodes and I honestly do not know where the story is right now. So,
it is tough for me to comment but I know that the show started with a
strong message, which didn't work. So due to channel compulsions, it had
to change. It started working, at least in the Star One space, when
they got Geet into a city and began concentrating on romance.
Unfortunately, this short-term strategy does not pay off in the long run. A show needs to have a soul, which has to be kept consistent along with the characters that people have connected with, throughout the various changes in the story. Take shows abroad like 'Friends' or 'Sex in the city' or even for that matter, Archie comics. You cannot have Archie starting to behave like Reggie. If that happens, people will neither like it nor relate to it anymore.
How do promotions of the shows work? Is there a deliberate attempt to use
excessive promotion for certain shows over others? For eg. Bebo was
promoted every 5 mins on most channels before its launch while the
promotion for Iss Pyar Ko Kya Naam Doon or Diya aur Baati was low-key compared to other shows.
In fiction, it is not about one episode, even if people do not watch
the initial episodes, they may find a tenth or a twentieth episode
better, the story will evolve and may kick off after 20 episodes. Hence,
it is more word of mouth promotion that bodes well for such shows where
people like the show and recommend it among friends and family. Fiction
has the space to grow slowly and draw a larger crowd over a period of
time especially by promoting the high points of the show every month or
two. I personally feel it is wrong to promote it all at the beginning as
people tend to develop too many expectations from the first episode
that may not be met as the story take time to evolve.
For non-fiction, the format is different. It is a short-lived show with only 13 to 15 episodes so you need to bring in people right at the start to sample it. If you don't then it becomes a problem, as it would be too late
to get them to watch it in the second or third week. Here promotion
plays an important role to hook the viewers' right at the start.