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Dus Ka Dum, Zindagi Ke Crossroads, KBC – Sony’s big gamble on non-fiction

Sony Entertainment Television is beefing up its weekday line-up with some non-fiction shows. The channel premiered its popular game show, ‘Dus Ka Dum’, yesterday (June 4, 2018) at 8.30 pm. The show, with Salman Khan as host, makes a return to the small screen after a hiatus of 9 years. ‘Dus Ka Dum’ will air every Monday and Tuesday. 

In the very same time slot of 8.30 pm, Sony is bringing in another non-fiction show, ‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’, which will go on air from June 6, 2018. The show, with TV actor Ram Kapoor as host, will air every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

Also in the pipeline is India’s premiere game show, ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’, which will go on air soon. The registration process to participate in Season 10 of ‘KBC’ will start with the show’s host Amitabh Bachchan coming on-air on Sony Entertainment Television and asking one question every night at 8.30 pm between June 6 and 20. 

As reported earlier, ‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’ aims to present a first-of-its kind format in India, which will show relatable life-altering narratives inspired from the drama of life and before a ‘Crossroad’ decision is taken. It will be put forth to the studio audience for deliberation and see what most of us would have done. For the viewers, it will be a ‘mirror-of-introspection’ and for some an enabler of life in the days to come. 

Produced by Shabinaa Khan, who has been closely associated with the Indian film industry, the concept, story and screenplay has been developed by Mahadev, who has been an integral part of Vijendra Prasad’s and SS Rajamouli’s team. Speaking on the show, Shabinaa Khan said, “‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’ will bring back conversations in our lives and can start a debate on how each one would react to a particular situation. Some stories are heart wrenching and bring out diverse views.” 

Given the packed schedule of Sony Entertainment Television, Adgully caught up with its Executive Vice President and Business Head, Danish Khan, to know more about what to expect from ‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’ on the eve of the show’s television premiere. Excerpts: 

What are your thoughts on the new idea and new strategy for ‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’?
There are three words which we use for our programming strategy, they are Novelty, Variety and Quality. Every time we try to create something new, we aim to get some more variety where we can make every half an hour more interesting and exciting. We always try to create new genres with high production quality and also with some great stories. And from that point of view, I think ‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’ has checked all those boxes. The show has a new concept and has never been tried by anyone across the globe and also, it is very high on investment. Although this show is quite a risk for us, we have taken that risk as we believe in this show. 

How the channel has worked on the conceptualisation of the show?
The concept of the show belongs to the writer and producer – Mahadev and Shabinaa Khan. What we did was keep on challenging Mahadev and 100 per cent credit for the show goes to him. Every time he came to us with different stories, we kept on challenging him to create something out of the box. So, basically we were just a sounding board which helped him to sharpen his own ideas. 

We have seen some non-fiction stories being dramatised. So, do you think that dramatisation is the better way to place the idea forward?
In a half-hour episode, if you want to trigger certain amount of life experience learning, then the story has to be on steroids, which here means drama, otherwise it won’t sustain for a longer period of time. It’s an important point from a screenplay point of view. It can hook more viewers by entertaining them. 

There are broadcasters who have launched talk shows on weekends...
I can bet you one thing, there is no parallel of this concept with anybody – not only in India but internationally as well. 

Who is the TG for such a show?
When we launched ‘KBC’ with play along, the feedbacks were commendable. We have seen this phenomenon of families coming together with that innovation. We want to have a mid-band with shows which will draw in this set of family audience – be it for ‘Dus Ka Dum’ or ‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’. 

For ‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’, we will have the audience in the studio, who can share their opinion. We will also have people interacting across India with the SonyLiv App. 

How will this show work on weekdays as it competes with well-established daily soaps?
We have already done that last year with ‘KBC’, and this year we will repeat it with ‘Dus Ka Dum’ and ‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’. 

India is a large country and there is a market for each kind of genre. When ‘KBC’ was launched, other soaps were also getting the traction. Take the case of the Indian Premier League (IPL), GECs have been doing well even during the duration of the IPL tournament. There are people who like soaps and there are also a variety of people who love to watch shows like these and we are basically targeting that group. 

So, are you looking more at a metro-centric audience base, or also want to cater to viewers in Tier 2 & 3 markets?
As a channel, our focus is clearly urban India. But talking about this show, the stories are a mix of everything. 

What is the marketing strategy drawn up for ‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’?
It’s a very interesting strategy. We can’t say everything about the show in a 30-second ad promo, so what we have done is that we have shown a situation/ story and have asked the audience what they would have done in such a situation. 

Our marketing strategy spans across digital, television and all media, and everything will get back on one thing – what would you have done in that situation? 

These days we see the trend of talk show shows coming back. What your take on that?
This is not a talk show. This show is a very unique blend of fiction and nonfiction stories where fiction stimuli power a real discussion. Since it’s a different show so it’s very hard to say how audience will like it but from a channel perceptive we have to be innovative and this show is big on innovation. 

Talking about new formats, how much of a gamble is it for the channel? Is it tough to attract advertisers for the show?
It’s a gamble for the channel for sure. To put a show like this, which has never been seen before on weekdays, and that too after two days of ‘Dus Ka Dum’ is really a big gamble. On the other hand, our advertisers are much braver and adventurous. Hence, it’s a win-win situation. 

‘Zindagi Ke Crossroads’ is not a talk show. It is a very unique blend of fiction and non-fiction stories, where fiction stimuli power a real discussion. Since it’s a different kind of show, it’s difficult to say how the audience will find it. But from a channel perspective, we have to be innovative and this show is big on innovation.

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