AgTalk | There is a lot of scope for everyone: Miditech's Niret Alva

When ‘Pop Idol’, the hugely popular worldwide phenomenon, was brought to India in 2004, it took millions of Indians to exceptional heights of frenzy and adulation, propelling them to live their dreams. ‘Indian Idol’ experienced viewer engagement as never before, cutting across all boundaries of social status and geographies to witness people from every walk of life turn up in full strength, not only to participate and make their dreams come true but also religiously vote to choose their very own ‘Indian Idol’. Thus the country witnessed a new beginning in Indian television programming as international formats became ‘desi’. And the rest as they say is history.

From a couple of seasons of Indian Idol, Fame Gurukul and Perfect Bride to Survivor India and the youth rage Rodies, the one common thread running along these and more shows is Miditech India. Co-founded by the Alva brothers, who can also be termed as reality specialists, the production house has worked in spheres ranging fiction, reality to education, kids and business shows. Apart from the show titles mentioned above, the production house asserts to one of the leading one’s of the players present in the market, standing stable, thanks to its presence of over two decades and an illustrious portfolio.

While in conversation with Adgully, Niret Alva, Co-founder, Miditech, shared company’s journey till now, their ongoing plans and also some key insights on the industry as a whole.

Adgully (AG):  In the span of more than two decades, Miditech has worked with known network channels across genres, be it business shows, kids shows, fictions shows, reality shows and others. What is the kind of planning and ideation process for the variety of genres?
Niret Alva (NA): We are always motivated by the desire to diversify and be in all the verticals. Truly there is no other production company that simultaneously does work for UNDP, Star and Doordarshan at the same time! We believe in giving variety to our viewers, hence we have marked our presence in daily soaps, reality shows, shows on environmental issues and so on. Some of the shows that were given to us were because they are experimental and broadcasters feel that only we can do it. Yet others are reality formats adapted to Indian viewer’s mindset and choices. 22 years have been a roller coaster ride for us. There have been tremendous highs and happy lows. We are still here producing new shows for our viewers and will be focused.

AG:  How according to you have experimentation in show themes worked out for Miditech and the television industry on the whole?
NA: We like experimenting and giving variety to our viewers. Some of the experiments that we have done till now were great successes, while some of them did not work well. But we never stop ourselves from experimenting. In a nutshell, everything has been tried or in the process of being tried.

AG: You were the first ones to bring international television show formats to India and others have followed suit. How do you see particular trend working in the Indian television space today?
NA: The market is fragmented and pretty punishing. Nobody quite knows what will work or won't. The brands that have endured as far as formats go are those who invested long term and have stayed the course. One should not panic if a particular season did not do well. There is a lot of scope for everyone.

AG: What according to you is the scope of localized formats of reality shows in India?
NA: The scope depends on the ability and inclination to stay the course. It builds from season to season and stays for the long haul. I get a little upset at times with the way reality shows are getting manipulated. I have got feedback from people that they know a particular show is rigged, yet they watch it for fun. Viewers have started questioning the authenticity of reality shows. It is not good at all. I hope that things will change for better in the future.

AG: Miditech has a large number of Governments, Non Government and Corporate clients it produces content for. Tell us a bit more on that.
NA: Development, the environment and entertainment education is our first love and passion. It satisfies like nothing else. It allows you to give back and recognize that our craft can be used in many ways apart from purely commercial. Lakshya, our environment series on DD and our recent work for UNDP is a perfect example for this.

AG: How was the first season of Welcome- Baazi Mehmaan Nawazi Ki for you? Also brief us a bit about the second season of it as the show focuses on the 'aam aadmi' and his tryst with food.
NA: In the first season, the personalities overshadowed the food a little bit, but the format got noticed. The second is a mix of celebs and everyday people and has themes too, at times, to throw in variety and stir the pot. Recession is one of them.

AG: A Television show run on TRP’s is a known fact. Sometimes even though the concept of the show is good, it does not garner necessary TRP's and winds up before time. As a lot of effort goes in producing and bring a show on board, being a producer please share your thoughts on the same.
NA: Nobody can be 100% sure about what works and what doesn't. If it did, it would be science! Sometimes the classes lap it up but not the masses. Sometimes the TRPs work brilliantly in one season and tank in the next. The important thing is to be driven by passion, originality and be open to how things on the landscape are constantly changing.

AG: Lastly, what is your take on the 'intellectual property' issue that is simmering in the industry?
NA: The creator must own the copyright. As a country we bend over backwards to accommodate the whims and fancies of international ‘creators’. But what happens when it comes to our own?!

Niret Alva, television producer and anchor co-founded Miditech, a television software company, along with his brother Nikhil Alva in 1992, which is currently one of Asia's leading independent production companies. Also a television presenter, he has anchored travel (Great Escape), automobile (Wheels) and environment (Living on the Edge and Earth Report) shows over the course of his career. He has won an Asian Television Award for Best anchor for “Wheels” for BBC World and has been a runner up twice for the same show. In 2007, he was awarded the Indian National Award for Excellence in Science based Communication in the Visual Medium.

A History graduate from St. Stephen’s College-Delhi, Niret has a post graduate diploma in journalism, from the IIMC, Delhi. He is a recipient of a certificate from the Radio Netherlands Training Centre in Hilversum (Holland) for a News and Current Affairs course in Television and has also earned a law degree (LLB) from Mumbai University.


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