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Posted: 26 May 2013 at 1:39am | IP Logged

The super soaps

Mega TV shows are splurging like never before, shooting in foreign locations and creating spectacular sets, says Susmita Saha

  • Actor Gautam Rode on the sets of Saraswatichandra

It's a sprawling, lavish set that stretches over 5,000sqft in Mumbai's Film City. On the faade are gigantic columns topped with delicately-carved sculptures while there's an artificial lotus pond inside, along with living areas studded with Kutch-style glass mirrors. This Bollywood-flavoured set, which took 200 labourers seven months to construct, is the over-the-top scene of action of Saraswatichandra, the recently launched mega-television series on Star Plus produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The price tag for this elaborate creation: Rs 5.5 crore.

A short drive away in Goregaon, another elaborate family saga is unfolding in an equally sumptuous setting. The producers of Colors' Bani - Ishq Da Kalma — a tale that centres on the Punjabi society's obsession with finding NRI bridegrooms — have splurged spectacularly on an unabashedly ornate mansion that's supposed to belong to one of the leading men. The 21,000-sqft set, which costs Rs 3.5 crore, includes sprawling gardens and indoor spaces with multi-layered chandeliers and expensive artwork. It's meant to be the type of luxurious residence that young girls in rural Punjab aspire to. "To depict a way of living, the setting has to be larger than life," says art director Tina Dharamsay.

The battle for TRPs has never been fiercer. And sprawling, big-budget soap operas are hoping to come out victorious by upping the ante and splurging heavily on extraordinarily elaborate sets or by taking cast and crew off to different corners of the globe. Also, they're spending heavily on better scripts and state-of-the-art special effects. "Television is now bigger than films. In a week, the viewership for a TV series is greater than any 100-crore film," says Gaurav Banerjee, executive vice president, network content engine fiction for Star India.

  • The set of Bani - Ishq Da Kalma in Mumbai, spread over 21,000sqft, flaunts lavish interiors and a highly-detailed faade

The fact is that television soap opera audiences have grown hugely in recent years. Says Banerjee: "Three crore people watch Diya Aur Baati Hum (a Star Plus offering about a middle class girl's dream to become an IPS officer) every week and that's an astounding number."

At the same time, with cable digitalisation bringing more cities under the digital umbrella, each household has more channels to watch too. "With a basket of 600-700 channels now at the disposal of consumers, broadcast networks need to constantly provide innovative content," says Nikhil Madhok, vice president, marketing, Star Plus.

In their quest for bigger audiences, the TV channels are following much the same path the Hindi film industry has been striding along for the last decade. So you have Sanskaar - Dharohar Apnon Ki from the Colors stable, which premiered in January, where about 50 episodes have sequences shot partially in New York and New Jersey. The story revolves around the dilemmas of a Gujarati youngster, Jaikishan Vaishnav, who goes to work abroad and ends up marrying an NRI girl.

"It's in the human nature to want variety. Shooting abroad offers audiences that variety," says Swapna Waghmare Joshi, creative producer of the show, who insists that the international backdrops enhanced Sanskaar's dramatic narrative. Of course, there are complications to shooting abroad — it took Joshi and her co-producer more than eight weeks to get work permits for the US.

The producers insist that they never head off abroad just for the heck of it. For instance, in Saraswatichandra, the trip to the Gulf helps to establish the wealth of the lead characters. Saraswatichandra's father is a Dubai-based business tycoon, and the family is shown in locations like Al Mamzar Park and the Burj Khalifa. The title role, played by TV actor Gautam Rode, shuttles between the Gulf and India.

Also breaking the monotone of endless indoors-only sequences was Bade Achhe Lagte Hain (on Sony), an Ekta Kapoor show, which had sections shot in Australia with lead couple Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar doing the rounds of the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Opera House and The Three Sisters rock formation in New South Wales. Another biggie from Star Plus, Saath Nibhaana Saathiya, also ratcheted up

  • Sanskaar - Dharohar Apnon Ki has been shot extensively in New York and New Jersey

its glamour quotient by throwing in sequences in Switzerland, shooting at tourist hot spots like the Lake Geneva region, Ticino and Lucerne.

But the programme that has surpassed them all by heading off for three months to Birmingham and London is Rab Se Sona Isshq, currently beaming on Zee TV. The soap, which explores the aspirations of Punjabi youth and their dreams of going abroad, is filmed around bistros, museums, galleries, opera-houses and other landmarks of the British capital.

Producers are using other tricks to cut through the channel clutter too. Some are breaking fresh ground by using cutting-edge computer generated imagery (CGI) in the fantasy and mythology genres. "CGI helps us generate completely unreal backdrops for our divine characters and create impactful visuals," says Nikhil Sinha, producer of mega fantasy series Devon ke Dev ... Mahadev that showcases legends woven around Lord Shiva. Sinha has created snow-capped mountains, lethal weaponry and cataclysmic battle sequences with the help of Vertex Volt, a premium VFX and animation service provider.

  • Kailash Parbat, the abode of Lord Shiva, is changed and enhanced with computer-generated imagery for every episode of Devon ke Dev € Mahadev

While Devon ke Dev... focuses on a rippling-muscle, bare-chested Shiva and his exploits, Savitri, another primetime entertainer, deals with the subjects of reincarnation, the quest for immortality and other paranormal elements. "The series requires a 60-member graphics team working round the clock to create sequences involving shape-shifting witches and aerial fights between the hero and the devil," says Ajit Thakur, general manager, Life OK, which airs Devon ke Dev... and Savitri.

Both the shows are shot against a green background known as a chroma screen, which gets replaced with computer-generated landscapes in almost every episode. "In a brick-and-mortar set, you can't create too much variation in terms of background. But with chroma, you can play around," says Thakur. In fact, Kailash Parbat, Mahadev's abode, is changed every time it appears on screen.

As might be expected, visuals that conjure up magical realms come at a steep price. Top-notch, computer-animated sequences cost anywhere between Rs 50,000 for a two-minute stint and Rs 10 lakh for lengthy and complex sequences, per episode, says Sinha.

  • Savitri, which deals with reincarnation, immortality and paranormal elements, has a 60-member graphics team for its special effects

Yet the fact is that channel executives — once the most tight-fisted people in the entertainment industry — aren't worried about splurging. And with good reason — television soaps are making more money than ever before.

That's partly because cable and satellite television has stretched its tentacles across the country and now reaches 150 million households, touching the lives of almost 700 million people. This means that advertising and subscription revenues are growing.

In fact, TV companies are earning tidy sums from the overseas market. That's also why they are trying to attract international audiences to boost sales. "The core idea in Rab Se... is to train the spotlight on the dynamics of NRI existence. In England, we also got lots of local talent playing cameos. This resonated with our UK viewers and familiarised domestic audiences with newer issues," says Ajay Bhalwankar, content head (Hindi GEC), Zee Entertainment, which has a footprint in nearly 183 nations.

Syndication of content too has added to the television networks' revenue kitty. For instance, Star Plus not only beams to 100 countries but has also syndicated a whole bunch of its shows to private producers and broadcasters abroad. Two of its current soaps, Saraswatichandra and Pyaar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyaara Pyaara, are doing really well in the UK and the rest of Europe.

  • Saraswatichandra's sprawling set took seven months to build and had around 200 people working on it at various stages

Colors, too, has syndicated shows like Balika Vadhu and Uttaran in more than 20 countries, where they're being dubbed in over 15 languages. "The encouraging part is that these are not necessarily catering to the Indian Diaspora; in many cases our shows are being dubbed for mainstream

audiences," says Vivek Srivastava, head, digital and business operations, Colors.

This has also resulted in new markets opening up. For instance, KISS TV, a leading African GEC has acquired the story of the Colors super-hit Uttaran and adapted it in Swahili. "Already, 30 episodes have been shot with local actors," says Gaurav Gandhi, COO, IndiaCast, a company that distributes channels like Colors, MTV and CNBC across the globe. The Swahili adaptation is set to run in countries like Botswana, Uganda, Kenya and Senegal.

Meanwhile, back home too, as cable and satellite penetration has increased from 50 per cent in 2002 to 91 per cent, domestic viewers are demanding more bang for their buck.

  • The cast and crew of Rab Se Sona Isshq spent three months shooting in England and even hired local talent to play small roles in the show

To cater to such rising expectations, Saraswatichandra's sets are reminiscent of Bhansali's visually intoxicating movies. The residence of the lead actress Kumud, for instance, is a Gujarati haveli with extravagant latticework and glittering mirror-studded walls. The centrepiece is a picturesque pond where full-bloomed lotuses can be seen floating around. "There's one beautifully shot scene where Kumud dives into the pond to search for her pearl ring," says set designer Jayant Deshmukh.

The mega-soaps are moving aggressively in the domain of music too. Once upon a time, there was hardly any original music on the small screen beyond the background score. All that's changing. Zee TV's Rab Se Sona Isshq has four original songs as well as recreations of Sufi compositions of Bulleh Shah, Reshma and Abida Parveen.

Similarly, Star Plus has roped in hit composer Ismail Durbar to score the music for its soon-to-be-launched behemoth production Mahabharat.

The producers and channels are ready to spend big bucks because they're eager to tap into a rapidly changing market. "Ad sales revenues are seeing a double digit growth," says Srivastava. And while digital revenues are a small percentage of the pie now, they're growing too. "In the next three years, we expect digital to contribute around seven to 10 per cent of the channel's revenue," he says.

This only means that the viewers will turn into bigger consumers of content. And that spells good news for broadcasters of quality programmes.



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Posted: 26 May 2013 at 1:40am | IP Logged

People still call me Saloni: Rajashree Thakur Vaidya

Amrita Mulchandani, TNN | May 26, 2013, 12.00 AM IST

Rajashree Thakur Vaidya famously known as 'Saloni' talks about her comeback on TV and the changes in the industry in a chat with TOI.

What kept you away from the small screen for so long?
I got married just a year back and so I was giving time to my family. Working round the clock in TV soaps don't give us enough time to spend with our close people. I did everything I could not do earlier like socialising and indulging in my hobbies. Being a kathak dancer, I got back to practice as I had lost touch with it.

Most people call you Saloni from Saat Phere, did you take a sabbatical just to break that image?
I never thought of taking up a show because it will be a safe decision or not. I also never thought if an epic show will work for me or not. As a kid I would love to read about historical characters and history was my favourite subject. I loved reading about Jodha AkbarShivaji and their likes. I took up Bharat Ka Veer Putra - Maharana Pratap now, just because of the characters and show concept. Though I feel it is important to break an image that is created in the mind of audiences, but after Saat Phere nothing interesting came my way. People yet call me Saloni and many don't event know my real name. But I am sure with my new character Maharani Jayawanta Bai Songara, people will call me by this name and love me the same.

Do you consider yourself lucky to get work in today's time where most producers prefer fresh talent over the established artists?
The times have gone when only new people got work in the industry. People like Sakshi (Tanwar), Mona (Singh) are there in prominent shows. Today, audiences want to see good talent. I am not saying that newcomers are not talented, but audiences want to see actors who they have loved to see in the past. After my debut show, I had decided to return only if I got something prominent on small screen.

Do you think television has changed since the time you left it last?
Producers are now in an experimenting mode. Gone are the days when only saas-bahu shows worked. Audiences are now accepting new story ideas and concepts. People are tired of watching the same cat fight in saas-bahu sagas. Historical and epic shows are working a lot — my favourite one is Devon Ke Dev... Mahadev. These kind of shows are not just entertaining, but can also be watched by children. These shows also educate people about our history. This is a new change welcomed by the audiences.

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Posted: 27 May 2013 at 3:42am | IP Logged

Tarun Khanna to replace Manish to play Ravan?

Neha Maheshwri, TNN | May 27, 2013, 01.19 PM IST

After wrapping the Jallandhar-Mahadev track in Nikhil Sinha's Devon Ke Dev Mahadev, the makers will introduce the storyline of Ramayan in the show. 

The casting for the same is on in full swing. We hear, actor Tarun Khanna has been approached to play the role of Ravan, a character that was originally played by Manish Wadhva.

Apparently, Manish was introduced long back, but the track didn't work then. With the Ramayan chapter coming up, the character of Ravan becomes pivotal.

Since Manish has taken up other projects, the makers have approached Tarun to play the part. The actor didn't revert to our text message.

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Posted: 27 May 2013 at 6:18am | IP Logged

Mahadev to play a pivotal role in Ramayan sequence!

Ramayan in Mahadev to showcase the importance of all the devas...


Monday, May 27, 2013 | 3:54:12 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)   |  Copyright: India-Forums.com / TellyBuzz  |  Comments 9 Comments  |  811 Views

Devo Ke Dev. Mahadev on Life OK which talks about the lives of Shiv and Parvati and is one the most popular shows will have a new chapter to unfold. The Ramayan sequence in Mahadev will educate the masses as even Lord Shiva will play a pivotal role in the lives of Lord Ram and Sita.

Our source informs us that, "Although the show is about Shiv (Mohit Raina) and Parvati (Sonarika Bharodia) they have incorporated an off track Ramayan. There is a deep sense to it when Lord Shiva plays a pivotal role in the lives of Lord Ram and Lord Sita... with the role of Mahadev seen as an essential one during Lord Sita's abduction.

All the other lords like Lord Vishnu (Jiten Lalwani) will also play a major part in the entire sequence of Ramayan."

When contacted Jiten Lalwani, he confirmed the news, "Yes, we will soon have a Ramayan track which will be a continuation of the Mahadev track and how all the devas play a crucial role in Ramayan. It's said that it might be a month long track with all the important sequences in the show."

The casting for Ramayan is on and the tentative on-air date of the Ramayan track in Mahadev will be from mid June 2013.

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Posted: 28 May 2013 at 2:20am | IP Logged

Mohit Raina finds TV female dominated

Mohit Raina describes television as a female dominated space and says it is difficult for male artists to get central roles. He considers himself lucky to play the lead role of Lord Shiva in "Devon ka Dev... Mahadev".


Tuesday, May 28, 2013 | 12:17:33 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)   |  Copyright: IANS  |  Comments 9 Comments  |  452 Views

Mohit Raina describes television as a female dominated space and says it is difficult for male artists to get central roles. He considers himself lucky to play the lead role of Lord Shiva in "Devon ka Dev. Mahadev".

He refers to his character in the show as "larger than life" and calls it a "lifetime opportunity".

"TV being a female dominated industry, you don't get to play a lot of central roles. The story of Lord Shiva is there and will go on and on. It is a larger than life character and the platform is huge," Mohit told IANS.

"As an actor, you don't get much choice in TV. I was lucky to get this. I have played 25-30 characters in the show. You have to be lucky to be able to play so many characters," he added.

Although his popularity has soared after his stint as Lord Shiva on the show, Mohit feels stardom in movies is a different thing.

"Films have a different world all together. People watch you for three hours and you become a brand for them. In TV, you are close to their hearts everyday. In films, they might forget you in three weeks. They might see you in ads and commercials. In TV, you don't give them a chance to forget you. But yes, the film industry is a bigger platform," he said.

Talking about "Mahadev", Raina said he never anticipated to get the amount of love that he has received.

"When we started the project, we never thought we will get so much appreciation and love. As an actor, you only look for love, and it has come in abundance. When I started, I never thought that it would be accepted in such a way. I am just short of words," he said.

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Posted: 28 May 2013 at 2:21am | IP Logged

Mahadev Come To Rescue Ganesh & To Take "Panchanan" Form To Kill Jalandhar In Devon Ke Dev Mahadev.



In Devon Ke Dev Mahadev, Vrinda and Jalandhar perform rituals to please Lord Vishnu as last recourse to protect Jalandhar. But soon, she realizes that the person sitting beside her at the altar is not Jalandhar.  Vrinda is startled, when she learns that Lord Vishnu has disguised himself as Jalandhar. She curses Lord Vishnu for his act and decides to take 'jal samadhi'.     Jalandhar is shattered after he come to know about Vrindha's "Jal-Samadhi" .Shukracharya apologizes to Mahadev for guiding Jalandhar, but Mahadev puts his guilt to rest. With Mahadev's consent, Kartikey faces Jalandhar in the battlefield, the next day.Kartikey finds a way to overpower Jalanadhar by attacking on his wounds before they could heal. When Jalandhar is about to demolish Kartikey, Nandi comes to his rescue.Jalandhar asks Nandi to fight against him, but Nandi is not ready for it. Ganesh ensues his fight with Jalandar, but is overpowered after a long struggle compelling Mahadev to come to the rescue.Jalandhar decides to avenge Vrinda's death. When he attacks Mahadev in the battlefield, Mahadev takes the 'panchanan' form and kills Jalandhar.

NOTE: MahaEpisode Of Mahadev On 2nd June 2013 At 8:00 PM.


http://tellynewsindia.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/mahadev-to-come-to-rescue-ganesh-to-take-panchanan-form-to-kill-jalandhar-in-devon-ke-dev-mahadev/

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Posted: 28 May 2013 at 2:26am | IP Logged

Mohit Raina finds TV female dominated

 

Published by: Pratima Singh 
Published on: Tue, 28 May 2013 at 12:29 IST

Mohit Raina finds TV female dominated

Mumbai: Mohit Raina describes television as a female dominated space and says it is difficult for male artists to get central roles. He considers himself lucky to play the lead role of Lord Shiva in Devon Ke Dev Mahadev.

He refers to his character in the show as "larger than life" and calls it a "lifetime opportunity".

"TV being a female dominated industry, you don't get to play a lot of central roles. The story of Lord Shiva is there and will go on and on. It is a larger than life character and the platform is huge," said Mohit.

"As an actor, you don't get much choice in TV. I was lucky to get this. I have played 25-30 characters in the show. You have to be lucky to be able to play so many characters," he added.

Although his popularity has soared after his stint as Lord Shiva on the show, Mohit feels stardom in movies is a different thing.

"Films have a different world all together. People watch you for three hours and you become a brand for them. In TV, you are close to their hearts everyday. In films, they might forget you in three weeks. They might see you in ads and commercials. In TV, you don't give them a chance to forget you. But yes, the film industry is a bigger platform," he said.

Talking about Mahadev, Raina said he never anticipated to get the amount of love that he has received.

"When we started the project, we never thought we will get so much appreciation and love. As an actor, you only look for love, and it has come in abundance. When I started, I never thought that it would be accepted in such a way. I am just short of words," he said.

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Posted: 28 May 2013 at 3:42am | IP Logged
Mohit Raina finds TV female dominated

Mohit Raina finds TV female dominated
Mohit Raina

Mohit Raina describes television as a female dominated space and says it is difficult for male artists to get central roles. He considers himself lucky to play the lead role of LordShiva in "Devon ka Dev... Mahadev". 

He refers to his character in the show as "larger than life" and calls it a "lifetime opportunity". 

"TV being a female dominated industry, you don't get to play a lot of central roles. The story of Lord Shiva is there and will go on and on. It is a larger than life character and the platform is huge," Mohit told IANS. 

"As an actor, you don't get much choice in TV. I was lucky to get this. I have played 25-30 characters in the show. You have to be lucky to be able to play so many characters," he added. 

Althoug his popularity has soared after his stint as Lord Shiva on the show, Mohit feels stardom in movies is a different thing. 

"Films have a different world all together. People watch you for three hours and you become a brand for them. In TV, you are close to their hearts everyday. In films, they might forget you in three weeks. They might see you in ads and commercials. In TV, you don't give them a chance to forget you. But yes, the film industry is a bigger platform," he said. 

Talking about "Mahadev", Raina said he never anticipated to get the amount of love that he has received. 

"When we started the project, we never thought we will get so much appreciation and love. As an actor, you only look for love, and it has come in abundance. When I started, I never thought that it would be accepted in such a way. I am just short of words," he said.

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