If you are wondering what the wedding is all about, and why viewers would be interested in witnessing a non-celebrity wedding, here is Nikhil Madhok – Senior Director, Marketing & Communication, Imagine TV in an exclusive conversation with TellyBuzz where he speaks at length on the concept and priorities of the show..
Imagine's next reality show is Shaadi Teen Crore Ki. Talk us thro the concept.
Shaadi Teen Crore Ki is a unique and interesting concept. It is a show which is about providing a dream wedding for an average middle class couple who has finalized their wedding date. We will be making it a special occasion for both the families by giving them loads of cash, so that they can put together a splendid Wedding. While a normal middle class wedding will cost around 5-10 lakhs, this special wedding would go way beyond the expected range, costing around 3 crore.
Why three crore for a wedding?
Actually, our aim was to organize the wedding on a scale which is of a very different level. And the amount we arrived at is 3 crore. Basically, we had two insights on which we based the decision. In Western India, marriages are nothing less than a community fair, wherein whoever is physically present for a wedding makes a note of literally everything, starting from the bride's attire, to what she is wearing, to the variety of food made available, and whether the wedding turned out to be memorable in all ways or not. The weddings will thereby be talked about even after weeks, months and years. With Shaadi Teen Crore Ki, we want the entire country to witness a wedding which has possibly not been seen anywhere. We want all to understand and gauge how a 3 crore wedding will look like. Secondly, the research we did for this project gave us some encouraging results wherein people hearing it were fired with imagination, and were forced to think how he/she would have organized such a wedding if they were given the huge money. We are pretty confident that this show will appeal to all in a family, starting from kids, youngsters to even old people.
Why is it that Imagine has an affinity for realities related to marriages?
Well, our concept of Swayamvar is actually the process of choosing a life partner, but here the life partner is already chosen and we help in giving them a fairy tale dream wedding. Even in fiction shows, if you observe, ratings tend to rise when the protagonists are on the verge of getting married. This kind of a celebration is popular with the viewers, and we want to make a different invasion altogether with this show.
This is a new reality show for television. What is the idea behind showing a real wedding?
Marriages always give a universal connect. In this case, it would be interesting to see how a common family uses the huge money given to them. Every episode of the show will capture one such ritual. If a normal wedding card costs few hundreds, a wedding card here might cost more than Rs. 5000. If a wedding usually sees about 15-20 dishes, this wedding might give the viewers a range of about 250 dishes. One would be curious to see the scale in which a sangeet ceremony is held, how much is being spent on the 'Baraat' of the Dulha etc. Also, it will be interesting to see how the regular family reacts when they come into the limelight. Unlike other reality shows where you need to win the contest to make money, this is one show wherein you will get money upfront.
What went into the planning of the show?
See, we had three conditions in mind. We did not make a call for entry promos for this show. We did not want to publicize this on television, as we wanted couples to be genuine. Firstly, we wanted a couple who is keen on getting married. Secondly, we wanted to have a typical North Indian wedding as it has lot of celebration and rituals, and would make for elongated TV content. Thirdly, the families should be agreeable to filming the entire wedding process, including the wedding. And last but not the least, the families should be willing to spend the entire 3 crore amount on the wedding.
So how did you manage to scrutinize whether the couple is genuine or not?
The Producers, SOL Productions took complete care of this. They have this means of recruiting people or agencies who specialize in this methodology of getting to know the interest level of couples to get married, doing a detailed check on their credentials etc.
Tell us about the bride and the groom families? Who are they?
Frankly speaking, we have identified the families. But we are to sign a contract with them in a day or two. All I can say is that the bride and groom belong to the same community; as of now we will require few more days' time to come out with the details.
Why such a title?
We wanted a title which would clearly communicate to the viewers what the show is entirely about. We did not want the title to give an open-ended meaning, wherein it is for the viewers to try and figure out what the show is all about.
What exactly will be shown in the show?
See, the show will start at the point where the rishta is already finalized. We enter when the money is being provided to the families. The show will start with the planning of every ritual, the arrangements, identification of the wedding cards, the range of gifts that are to be exchanged, the attires that the groom and bride buy etc. The show will culminate in the grand wedding.
Where do you think the masala quotient will come in a show like this?
The fun part in the show is that every episode will have a new event or ritual related to marriage, wherein the money spent will be 100 times more than a normal wedding. One will get to see various reactions, starting from the reaction of the family when they get to see a 2 lakh shagun, to certain genuine feelings among the family members when they see the flow of huge money. Every episode in the show will be progressive, wherein we will be building towards the D-day.
Who will be hosting the show?
We were in fact looking for familiar faces, who can connect well with the audience, and even with the family members. We have zeroed in on Mona Singh and Ali Asgar, and they are celebrities in their own right. They gel well with all without overwhelming anyone. They blend in nicely, and are good people to associate with. Both Mona and Ali are excited about the concept.
What will be their role in this show?
Ali and Mona will be making a sort of connection between the audience and the family. They will also guide the viewers when it comes to the rituals they will be seeing on the day. They will also provide ideas to the families, and will go about making the atmosphere lively and exciting.
Will the show be completely pre shot?
Since the show involves huge planning and preparation, we will not be going completely live. However, we will be maintaining only few days of lag when it comes to the point where the filming is happening and what goes on air. Unlike a Swayamvar, we need to capture lot many reactions during the wedding day, and rituals need to be shot very elaborately.
Where is the filming happening?
As I said, the couple has just been locked. The couple identified is based in Delhi, so the filming will happen somewhere in and around Delhi.
Will the channel rope in celebrities at all to be part of the wedding?
If celebrities have a role to play, and the content demands it, we will surely make it a star-studded affair. All depends on the way the families see it; if they desire to pay a huge chunk of money on celebrities, we will make it happen for them.
Will this show be a daily?
Yes, it will be a prime time daily show. We intend to keep it on for a month or so. The idea is to not keep it for too long, but at the same time, we will not be rushing with the rituals just to focus on the climax. Every ritual will be important, and we are looking for a show of 16-20 episodes.
Is this show a deliberate attempt to fill the gap of a no-fiction show for a while post Zor Ka Jhatka?
This show was always in the planning. Even at the launch conference of Zor Ka Jhatka, we had mentioned that the year 2011 will be a big year for us. We have some unique shows lined up. Presently, we have our biggest property Zor Ka Jhatka on air. After Shaadi Teen Crore Ki, we will again come up with our flagship show, Swayamvar. While these are the three big non fiction shows on Imagine, we will be strengthening our fiction band as well, with few new shows.
Non fiction shows have not been working well of late for Imagine. Big Money, Raaz Pichle Janam Ka have not got encouraging reports. What do you have to say?
As far as non-fiction is concerned, Imagine is one of the channels that has a much higher success rate. Whether it be the Swayamvar seasons, or Rakhi Ka Insaaf (till the point where it was moved from the original slot) all did well. Our hit rate with successful non-fiction shows is highest. And let's accept it, when we put forward a content, few of them click while few don't. We are hoping that Shaadi Teen Crore Ki gives us a good rating and viewers like it.
How do you think the response to Zor Ka Jhatka has been?
We are delighted with the opening rating of Zor Ka Jhatka. We have to observe couple of things here – the show has done exceptionally well in our core markets like Delhi, UP, Punjab, Rajasthan and Kolkata. The ratings in Mahrashtra are a bit subdued, but when it comes to the core set of markets, the ratings which used to be at a 1.4 mark is now showing an excess of 4. Zor Ka Jhatka is a show which will help us bring new viewers. We usually see a reality show having a huge rating on the opening episode after which there is a gradual dip seen. But with Zor Ka Jhatka, we started slow, but ended the week with a rating near to 3 TVR. Even in the second week, we are made to understand that the ratings are equally strong. All this suggests that the content has really been liked. This has prompted us to work towards a Season 2, with Shah Rukh Khan at the helm.
The general consensus is that Zor Ka Jhatka tends to shift focus from the adventure sport of contestants to the narration of SRK frequently. What do you have to say to this?
Well, we have got a mixed reaction on this, so do not know how to exactly tackle this issue. All I can say is that we will be keeping a balance between the adventure part and the narration of SRK. At some places, viewers prefer to see SRK's reactions, rather than just his commentary.
Reporter and Author: Srividya Rajesh