Ex | An opportunity for Marathi Manoos to dream big: ETV Marathi's Anuj Poddar

ETV Marathi’s “Kon Hoeel Marathi Crorepati”, produced by BIG Synergy will now give a few from the  population of over 12 crores, from 33 zillas and beyond in Maharashtra , an opportunity to reach  the hot seat in Marathi television’s biggest game changer till date. The show will for the first time in the history of Marathi television provide contestants an opportunity to win the prize money of one crore by answering 15 questions of the Paishyacha Zaad. This epic show presented by New Fair & Lovely and powered by Idea premiers on 6th May, 2013 and will air every Monday to Thursday from  9.00 – 10.00  pm

Kon Hoeel Marathi Crorepati, is dedicated to the Marathi Manoos who are educated and up-to-date on the latest happenings in India and the world. The show draws inspiration from Kaun Banega Crorepati and stands for power of knowledge and education. It will offer the opportunity for every Marathi-speaking person to exercise their vast knowledge and possibly change their destiny through their participation in what has been called the most successful game show ever.

ETV Marathi a part of the Prism TV Private Limited Group has always captured the ethos and spirit of this vibrant state and mirrors it in a rich range of programming. The spirit of entertainment, which is omnipresent in all corners of Maharastra, is reflected in the channel. The first Marathi General Entertainment Channel (GEC) that launched on 9th July 2000, has shows ranging from fiction to reality and Blockbuster Movies as well. Some of their flagship shows have been programmes like Chaar Divas Saasuche, Shrimant Peshwa Bajirao Mastani, Comedy Express, Ek Mohor Abol, Mejwani Paripoorna, Lek Ladki Tya Gharachi, Asawa Sundar Swapnancha Bangla and Vivaah Bandhana.

Taking you through this journey and towards your dream along with “Katekar Kaka” will be Sachin Khedekar a quintessential superstar and actor par excellence. Speaking about the show and what it represents Sachin said “Kon Hoeel Marathi Crorepati is going to be about providing a great opportunity to succeed for all those who celebrate our great culture and most importantly have the power of knowledge on their side. A show of this stature calls for great responsibility and I will endeavor to be a friend and a guide to my contestants”

About launching such a landmark show Anuj Poddar, Executive Vice President & Business Head – Regional Channels,Viacom18 (in partnership with ETV) said “We at ETV Marathi were looking at providing our 

viewers unparalleled experience and scale comparable to the Hindi GEC. We believe that the Marathi audience is very evolved, has knowledge on their side and deserves high quality entertainment. With a show like “Kon Hoeel Marathi Crorepati” we hope to give our viewers an hour of complete quality entertainment that will add to the entire family viewing experience.”

On the show’s core thought Amit Phalke, Non Fiction Head at ETV Marathi said “Kon Hoeel Marathi Crorepati facilitates our objective of giving every “Marathi Manoos” by heart and soul an opportunity to get to their dream and most importantly to continue dreaming big.  With Sachin Khedekar as the “Marg Darshak” this landmark show is all set to redefine family time in the Marathi Television space and will be that hour where the whole family comes together to root for the one on the hotseat.”

Speaking on the occasion Siddhartha Basu, Big Synergy said “Kon Hoeel Marathi Crorepati offers a mega platform of “Maharashtrach Mahamanch”, open to all those from anywhere in the 

country who love the Marathi culture and speak the language, which has the potential to change the life and destiny of the person on the hot seat in a very short duration. For viewers it offers deep engagement of watching a life change before their eyes through a knowledge game, and also to be entertained and inspired by it.  It is for the first time in Marathi television history that a show and opportunity of this scale and size has been launched exclusively for all those who are rooted to the language and culture of this state.”

Adgully in an exclusive interview spoke to Anuj Poddar, about the upcoming show and how they plan to reinvent the image of the channel while also keeping in mind  the aspirational, savvy and modern younger generation of today.

Speaking about the thought and concept behind the new show Poddar said “It concerns mainly two things one from the audience’s perspective and for us the channel’s perspective. For the audience it is the first time that they are getting an opportunity since Kaun Banega Crorepati did not go all the way down Maharashtra the way we have. We called for  entries in each field and the buzz value is very high . So they are connecting to this better and have high aspirations towards the same.”  It has been a tough year  for people in Maharashtra but the channel did go down further to the rural areas to conduct auditions away from cities such as Mumbai and Pune so there is a very diverse mix as opposed to what response they would get from a metro like Mumbai .

Being a conscious decision to go to these particular markets he further explained “Yes absolutely and that for us is a differentiator and to build a better connect we would tell them that this is for you. It is Kon Hoeel Marathi Crorepati . It is the Marathi version for you .The questions are for you .It is with regard to your history, culture, your upbringing. We tested it out and realized that a 

farmer or a local teacher from a small town who speaks very fluent Marathi but could not be fluent in English or Hindi , who knows everything about his history and culture and about the world from his perspective but may have not got the opportunity is not any less smarter. It shows that he is as well read, as smart but this is from his eco system and environment. In the larger  socio-political context Marathi people are aspirational and they rightly deserve more and that is something we are going to  give them,” said Poddar .

Another reason being the need to lift the scale of Marathi regional television. KBC  has happened in the South but Marathi TV had not really scaled up to that level and he is of the opinion that the time has arrived for Marathi TV to really scale up.

It will be a game changer not only for ETV but for the entire Marathi genre. So this according to Poddar is by far the most expensive show on Marathi television where no compromises have been made in terms of marketing spends. With regard to approximate adspends they have achieved visibility and engagement equivalent to a Rs 5cr spend and their promotional activity includes TV spots: More than 2000 GRPs , covered: Over 150 GRPs , several hundred hoardings, bus shelters, bus panels and other outdoor media and  650+ radio spots.

When asked if audiences will see any deviation from the original format Poddar said, “It is going to be the original classic format which used to air in the 1st and 2nd season of the Hindi version . We have not complicated it with what they introduced in the later seasons . There is no deviation and we will not scale down anything. It will have same sets, same format , 15 questions, 3 lifelines, keeping the classic and simple format without the ‘man chaha padav’ and that is why people love the show in this format.

KBC has always been associated with a  different channel altogether . But by airing KHMC in this format on the channel shows that ETV Marathi is undergoing major changes . Elaborating further on this he said, “ It has always been consistent and been one of the pioneers in Indian television . It is not a newcomer and has always been a leader but it is no secret that in the last couple of years there have been others who have come in and taken leadership but this is ETV’s way of saying we were the original leader coming back to bring you leadership and for what you aspired.”

Sharing the growth the channels have seen since the last six months he informed that in terms of GRPs ETV oscillates close to 100 and Star and Zee oscillates from 180 to 200 and more.

The time band has been slotted for Monday through Thursday, 9pm – 10 pm. He considers this to be family viewing time . “Being a one hour show the entire family is able to  view it together . It will be aired only during weekdays and will center around the viewer’s daily routine to become a habit and ultimately help the family to bond,” he says.

With regard to research that has been done to introduce new shows on the channel he explained that they  have been looking at different concepts and  trying to bring in interesting non fiction since ETV in that space has always been good in the last two three years . They may have lost a little where fiction shows are concerned but with non fiction they have always scored well They have also created a lot of home grown formats . ETV today has a top rated show called the Comedy Express which has been very popular across all of Maharashtra and is presently a popular brand on ETV but wanting to raise the bar the channel was looking at different formats and experimented with various ones and this show seemed to be the perfect fit for the Marathi audience. A lot of talent shows have been tried out on ETV Marathi but nothing similar till date has been done on the lines of KHMC.

“A game show on this level has not been done , talent has been tried in many ways but if you look at game shows what could be a bigger game show than this one?” avers Poddar.

Of late the Marathi genre has been experimenting a lot . This being the largest one is the channel open to experimenting more in the future? To this he replied, “We do want to break out from the repetitive stuff.  In March we launched a show called Natya  Rang which shows for the first time one act plays but not shot on stage but shot for television . In Marathi culture theatre and stage has always been placed on a high pedestal. Marathi literature too is a big thing so a lot of theatre comes from the literature they have and now they have taken that very  theatre and literature  and adapted it  into a play especially  made for television and that brand is something that we stand for. So we will continue to do the conventional soap, the conventional fiction , non-fictions talent shows etc. For us these are brands which stand for a lot of diversity and appeal to different segments . They may appeal to different segments amongst the   Marathi audience who is literally and culturally sound and want to see such kind of shows.”

Sharing his perspective on the fact that within  the Marathi audience there could be different thinking and preference for certain types of environment or content he said,“ Maybe relatively because primarily Marathi is different from Hindi. There is a lot of culture imbibed. All our channels are basically national channels may it be in the kids space or in the English space so we are in a way biased as an Indian audience . What I have realized is  that emotions are common, storytelling and fiction are common but there are a lot of local and cultural nuances and that is what we are going to capture.” He also went on to inform about the recent launch of their fiction show which is a successful adaption of Hindi serial Uttaran .  Launched in January this year it is called  ‘Asava Sundar Swapnancha Bangla’. The original pillars of  emotions are the same with the young girls as protagonists, one rich ,the other poor , the jealousies with a lot of cultural nuances thrown in that are relevant today . So according to him there is a lot of difference in Marathi and Hindi shows but  a lot of similarities too and where the younger audiences are concerned they have the option and do watch  Hindi shows unlike in the South.”

Continuing further Poddar adds, “So I need to have the USP as to why will an audience that has the option of watching Hindi channels would want to come to  watch a Marathi channel. So on the one hand it has to be contemporary, vibrant, fresh , and as a production match up to the Hindi channels because I cannot give them anything substandard  but on the differentiation side give them something which is closer to their heart or country and something that resonates with them.”

He says that in keeping with one’s ethos and culture audiences prefer to watch shows and movies which are closer to their heart.

Agreeing to the fact that there is a  difference within sub segments within Marathi, Poddar said , “When we look at different shows we see some date higher on LC 1 and some date higher on Mumbai metro on LCCABC  but I think that is relative to any audience cycle sample that you take into consideration . But we try and make it inclusive so I think showing very rural or regressive or superstitious stuff on only LC1 is not the answer.  The rural audience want to see key aspirational stuff   and   the urban audience equally want to see conventional fiction stuff so the differentiation is not on the stereotyped clichéd lines but on the slight subtlety of tastes whether you are louder or softer on expressions or treatments .and some of that stuff.” He also said that  the channel benefits because ETV in LC 1 has a got a better market share than on a full Marathi basis  that is a result of ETV being one of the earlier launched channels.

Reinventing the image and viewing content of the channel keeping in mind today’s generation and connecting with them  is priority for ETV as of now.

Sharing his views on  this front he said that ETV has over the years lagged in  image and has built a perception of being older since the channel has been around for quite some time now. “That is a conscious change we are bringing into the brand and the brand level holistically and we want it to look , feel and talk younger ,fresher and more contemporary in everything. So if you look at the channel we have changed our packaging and if you compare it to what is was three months ago  it is a lot more smarter and keeping with the times. That holds true for all segments of the audience , a new packaging is also something that appeals to the younger audience and their sensibilities .  A change will be seen in the protagonists in the new lot of fiction shows where they have been shown younger and 80% of our fiction shows have been revamped. What is important is how we create and connect a buzz around them and a conscious effort to make the  brand grow younger.,” he said.

On  the marketing front and if there is a specific communication that has been worked around to bring a change in the perception or building an image of the channel Poddar said , “What we are not doing is we are not doing a channel marketing . We would want the product to speak for itself . What we are doing is changing the product . It needs to become younger fresher, hipper , appeal to all and become a better quality . Once I am confident of the new   product then we start marketing it.”

Since the last few years ETV has not done any marketing in terms of outdoor , hoardings etc  But now they have started marketing fictions especially the ones they launched   in January this year. In non-fiction category they launched Natya Rang and did level two of marketing for that particular show and now with KHMC  it will be level three of marketing . The show has  the highest ever marketing spend in the Marathi space and  is expected to roll out  soon not just in Mumbai but penetrate across the whole of Maharashtra  and activities too are being undertaken for the same.

He also spoke about their  social media activities which involves  a FB page that was launched just two months ago and are close to a following of nearly 35,000 as of now. He went on to say “We expect that to grow on the back of the upcoming shows that we are doing for the channel. So I don’t look at the Marathi audience to be any less smart or less computer literate , less urban or less savvy compared to any other audience. If a Hindi or English channel can do Facebook why can’t we. You will see our Twitter and Facebook  page in all of our communications.”

Speaking about beefing up their weekend programming he is of the opinion that regional channels do not work much on the weekday/weekend concept as the  Hindi space does because fictions on regional channels work  6 days a week that is Monday to Saturday when all shows, fictions and serials are aired and Sunday evenings are slotted for movies , events or special shows.

Poddar very firmly denied that there would be a face for the channel. “No, it is the product by itself which will be the face of the channel. Yes there is Sachin Khedekar at the moment but I don’t need a separate brand ambassador to come and advertise. There will not be anyone different from the channel but only those who actually lead my fiction shows,” he said.

In conclusion, Poddar with reference to their fiction shows on air presently said, “We will experiment and  give time to our fiction shows but as of now they are definitely promising. We just have to wait and watch how they develop . But to me they are looking good right now.”

ETV Marathi’s Kon Hoeel Marathi Crorepati’s foray into the buzzing Marathi GEC space creates a compelling and unique experience for viewers. With the launch of this epic show the tables have been turned to favour those who have knowledge and determination on their side. The stage is all set to give a thrust exclusively to the dreams of the people of this Maha – Rashtra.  A Paishachya Zaad of 15 questions, 3 life lines of “Janmatacha Koul”, “Talayat Malayat”, “Mitracha Madat” and the right answer to your very own “Sanganak Raje” will give the contestant a chance to redefine their destiny.

Thus the upcoming show heralds  new beginnings for ETV Marathi, the most watched and culturally rich channel in the Marathi regional space.


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