Adgully Exclusive | We have grown in a year's time: Ajit Thakur

The journey of Ajit Thakur from an economics student to an Executive Vice President & Business Head ' SET is nothing short of a roller coaster ride.

Hailing from India's steel city Jamshedpur, where everyone wanted to be an enginner, Thakur, on the other hand wanted to become a writer. Eventually he ended up studying economics from Hindu College, Delhi University.

After that he went to IIM, Lucknow and started his job first in Coca Cola India limited as a management trainee. Thakur then joined Hindustan Lever in November 2001 as a senior brand manager for Kwality Walls in Banglaore. In Hindustan Lever, he did some successful campaigns like "ek din ka raja", which brought him into the limelight.

However it was his work at UTV, which caught the eye of everyone and made him a force to reckon with. Thakur knew Ronnie Screwvala, the CEO and Founder Chairman of 'UTV Group', who wanted Thakur to take charge of the Production.

Thus came first chance to glow in the limelight as UTV then, one air-time show at that time. Thakur launched 3-4 successful shows on air within a year. Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena on Colors, three shows with Zee, the last one being Dance India Dance, have doing well in the small screen industry.

Besides this he has also produced content for National Geographic and Doordarshan.

With a string of successful shows, it was just a matter of time that his talent was noticed and he was soon approached by Sony and was offered executive vice president and business head of Sony Entertainment Television post. Since then he has come a long way.

Since then Sony too has grown leaps and bounds with shows like CID, Aahat, Comedy Circus, and Indian Idol. And with KBC due soon, Thakur expects the TRPs to soar higher than before.

"We have grown in a year's time. The TRP have doubled if not more and we have programmes, which are weekly, weekends special and prime-time views," explains Thakur in an exclusive interaction with Adgully.

"As far as growth is concerned, I think the reason why we have done so well is because of long term strategic thinking, which we are doing ' a perfect example would be the KBC, which we have been planning for almost 10 months and finally it has been announced," he adds.

"Then we resumed Indian idol at the back of IPL. We have also being doing day to day thinking, wherein new innovations and changes have been done to meet the demands.

"For example, people expected Indian idol at weekends. But we were there on a daily basis and have done with Yashraj. So basically we have done quick thinking on this feat which has made us to grow and still we are growing," he explains.

Besides thinking out of the box, Thakur feels that consumer feedback is very essential, if one has to grow. "Today the audiences are evolving fast so the landscape is changing. Today there is someone at the top, tomorrow there is someone else. That's why we have also involved audience data, asking them what next would do you like to see on television. We have a lot of interaction and take a feedback," he says.

Thakur feels since the audience too have grown big after the cable television boom, there is a greater need to collect audience data if one has to succeed in here. Known for their reality shows, Thakur feels Sony is not all about just reality shows. "We have been pioneers in terms of programming and it's not only reality shows. We have CID, which is a cop thriller and it's been for more than 12 years. Aahat, which is a horror show and has been there for last 15 years, so we have done successfully besides just the reality shows," he says.

"Then we have the likes of Indian Idol, Big Boss, Jhalak Dikhla Ja, Entertainment Ke Liye Saala Kuch Bhi Karega, with Anu Malik and Farah Khan, which have done well as reality shows. Dus ka Dum, hosted by Salamaan Khan too is entering its new season, but i can't talk much about it right now," he adds.

Thakur believes that not only the production quality too has improved over the years but also the script.

"We not only have good production quality but also we have best team of writers and fresh casting. High definition technology is used. We are creating a next generation content in the country. "Mahive" has kind of got huge success with 150 thousands of fans following on net. This is a next level of content and it's just a start," he says.

"In international markets, we have a lot of demand for these serials. In fact they show it in sub-titles -- they are selling like hot cakes. It was a test for us with this type of concept. The YRF shows were suppose to be seasonal but now we would be starting with one show and then after every couple of months we will be re- launching it. I'm sure they will break the clutter and it will bring more ratings and more audiences," he adds.

Thakur hopes in the coming months, Sony breaks all the TRP rating, but he insists that content will not be compromised. "Being in an entertainment business we have certain kind of powers. So I think if we can use those force to entrainment people and with that education, enrichment or just inspire people then I believe we have done a good job.

"We are not concerned for ratings but we want to make more meaningful content in which we have a "seekh" in it. Whether its Indian idol as a platform or crime petrol which is busting of crime.

With KBC or Dus ka Dum, we hope that the show will only take us to be next level. But we are not in here to target a position, we are just targeting the growth and we should keep growing faster than others," he explains.

"I wish there would be more television shows which the whole family would watch," he adds.


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