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Social reform, variety at the core of Color’s content strategy: Nina Elavia Jaipuria

Color’s new show, ‘Kesari Nandan’, focuses on the girl child and hers dreams and aspirations through its lead character – Kesari. The storyline, which would remind one of Aamir Khan starrer ‘Dangal’, follows the dreams of a young girl Kesari to become a renowned wrestler like her father Hanumant Singh. Produced by Contiloe Pictures, ‘Kesari Nandan’ premiers on January 1, 2019 and will air every Monday to Friday at 8.30 pm. Dabur Gulabari has come on board as the Presenting Sponsor. 

Speaking at the launch event, Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head - Hindi Mass Entertainment and Kids TV Network, Viacom18, informed, “We have devised an impactful on-air campaign called #KhelKesari to promote the spirit of sportsmanship and encourage women to take up sports. With support from stalwarts like Geeta Phogat and Mary Kom, we want to inspire girls to dream big and become beacons of change.” 

She further added, “The New Year will mark the advent of a fresh line-up of relatable content that will add newness to our bouquet of offerings. We will begin the year with the weekday prime-time, ‘Kesari Nandan’. The weekend primetime will be bolstered by ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ and a crime-drama called ‘Courtroom’. Further along the way, we have gripping concepts in the form of ‘Jhaansi Ki Rani’ and ‘Gath Bandhan’ that will make the channel distinct and diverse.” 

In an interaction with Adgully, Nina Elavia Jaipuria speaks at length about Colors’ content strategy for 2019, new shows in the pipeline, putting social reform at the core of its fiction shows and more. Excerpts: 

What is Colors’ content strategy for 2019 - you had mentioned 5 show launches this week?
I don’t think we are going to answer that from a calendar perspective. I don’t believe longevity of shows is measured by calendars at all. They are measured by how much the viewers embrace the show. The reason why we are launching so many shows is that first of all, ‘Bigg Boss’ is vacating three slots – one-hour slot on week days and the weekend slots, so we had to launch 3 new shows. The ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’ will take care of our weekends, which have always been very fertile. We’ve always had very robust non-fiction shows on weekends. Therefore, once the latest season of ‘Bigg Boss’ concludes, we have our next reality show ready. With Rohit Shetty’s magic and the 12 contestants that we have this season, there will be a lot of electrifying stunts and Argentinian hangover as well. To me, this is going to be a runaway success once again because there are a lot of ardent fans of ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’. 

The two one-hour slots vacated on week days will have shows in the social drama genre that will seek to bring about social reform. Over the years, Colors has pioneered the cause of trying to break set mindsets and doing it in a very engaging manner. Over the years, Colors has brought strong social dramas such as ‘Balika Vadhu’, ‘Udaan’, ‘Shakti’, ‘Roop’ and many more. 

‘Kesari Nandan’ has a very unique concept. It is a family drama with a lovely narrative between a father and daughter, which is really emotional. While this is a very powerful GEC viewer show, it also talks about women empowerment. 

Could you elaborate on ‘Kesari Nandan’s concept?
Contiloe Pictures  and Colors have worked on the show’s concept together. We suggested that we wanted to do something in an arena where sports would be central to the show and the rest would be worked around it. That’s where that germ of an idea took birth. It is not a very easy show to do, because you want sports to be there, but at the same time be engaging and not preachy. 

‘Kesari Nandan’ which will come in one slot vacated by ‘Bigg Boss’. The other slot will have another new show, ‘Gath Bandhan’, which is a dichotomy between being edgy and lighthearted at the same time. The show is about a Dombivili ka Don versus Gujarat ki IPS. It think it will be a very interesting twist in the tale and we would like to see how it plays out. 

How was the social media campaign – #KheloKesari – conceived?
Kesari is the central character, who stands for what little girls today are – ambitious and have a dream and the fire to make that dream a reality. We envisaged the campaign to be meaningful so that it would complement the theme of the show. I didn’t want to conduct a frivolous marketing exercise. We wanted to bring the social reform depicted in the show into reality. That is when we thought about taking the support of Mary Kom and Geeta Phogat. That’s also where the idea of #KheloKesari came up as they are living legends and their presence brings so much more meaning to what Colors as a channel stands for and the message we want to convey. For us, the viewers are very important and if Mary and Geeta are talking about Kesari, then that would take the show to another level. 

Has the theme of social reform helped you connect with a different set of audiences?
I don’t think it is a different set, but it is definitely standing out as entertainment that is not cluttered. 

Do you think these kinds of shows will appeal to the Tier 2 and 3 audiences, who are primarily women?
I think GECs have always been women-focussed. Women are our captive viewers. ‘Kesari Nandan’ will certainly connect with them at the core because every mother wants their daughter to achieve something that they couldn’t. But it is also about going to those markets that are very fertile for us, like MP, Rajasthan, UP, Delhi and Punjab, where our presence is very strong. Colors has been a fairly strong rated channel in the 1 million+ towns. So, I think it is about remaining connected and resonating with our audiences in everything that we do. 

While we have stood for social reforms, we have also stood for variety. We have been trendsetters in this space with shows like ‘Naagin’, for example. From that perspective also I think this is something that will get more viewers latched on. 

Colors has never done a crime drama before. What made the channel foray into the crime genre now with ‘Courtroom’?
I don’t have a line of sight on why we haven’t attempted crime before, but I must express that this is a unique show because it is not a simple crime investigation. It is not about how the justice system catches a criminal, but rather what happens to the criminal after he/ she is caught. What happens in the court? How do you substantiate the crime? How do you argue? It is a courtroom drama that is inspired by real life court cases. It is not a figment of imagination, but rather a show that depicts rape cases, sexual harassment cases, acid attack cases and a lot that is out there in the real world as well as how these cases were conspired and transpired in the courtroom. That is something not a lot of people have seen. The show has been produced by Optimystic Productions. 

Do you also take into consideration that this content will also be consumed on the OTT platform?
When we design content, we are purely doing it from a broadcast perspective first. We do get a lot of viewership on OTT as well, for example, ‘Bigg Boss’ is really driving Voot. But it’s not to say we are creating content for OTT, but rather because we are among the top 3 GECs in the country. If we don’t innovate and pioneer when we have been the challenger brand all through, then who will? It is really about bringing newer content and newer genres to life. 

What is your vision for 2019? What would be the three things you would prioritise?
With the new tariff system in place, our vision as a channel is to be connected and engaged with the viewer. We want to ensure that with every story we create and every character that we develop, we create a relationship with the viewer. Without that in your DNA, no GEC can survive. 

The second vision would be that in this faced-paced world with ever changing technology and trends we want to ensure that we have our finger on the pulse of the viewers. We want to be ahead of the curve and be trendsetters. If there is a change in preference and viewership patterns, then we want to be there to notice that and create the content to match that shift in viewership. 

Colors has always stood for variety. We tell a balance of fiction and non-fiction stories. I think it is giving the viewer a very robust bouquet of genres of content that they can embrace Colors with. 

What would be the balance between fiction and non-fiction content in 2019?
We don’t consider it a balance between fiction and non-fiction, but rather weekday versus weekend. The viewer is used to that and he wants to see different things on a weekday and different things on a weekend. We take into consideration what the viewer wants and the weekday pattern and weekend pattern is a reflection of that. 

We experiment and pioneer. Sometimes we have hits and sometimes we have misses, but that doesn’t keep us from experimenting.

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