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This summer, keep watching

Abhilasha Ojha  |  New Delhi 

From fiction to reality, humour to history, leading Hindi entertainment channels promise great viewing in the coming months.

This summer, as many as seven channels in the general entertainment space are set to launch a bouquet of new serials. What’s more, they’re also investing Rs 100 crore to reach out to audiences. While Sony, Zee and Star Plus are old names, Colors, a relatively new channel, is already giving stiff competition to its rivals. It’s launching a new reality show, India’s Got Talent, soon. Some of its older shows like Balika Vadhu, Jai Shri Krishna and Uttaran (all these shows feature child artistes as the main protagonist) have managed to take the channel to the number one position.

With child artistes being the flavour of the season on Indian television, Zee TV recently announced the launch of its new show Aap Ki Antara. Unfortunately for the channel, a spate of negative reports were published when the mother of the four-year-old protagonist complained about her child being forced to wait on the sets for long hours. According to the reports, the child actor will no longer be part of the show.

Zee TV has already started offering some of its new programmes, including Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo, a moving story of a poor family who sell their daughter for money. Thankfully, the era of Balaji Telefilms’ stranglehold in the general entertainment space is over, and a lot of serials that are doing well on TV are by production houses that are offering fresh content. Not surprisingly, Balaji Telefilms recently announced a net loss of Rs 14.62 crore in the fourth quarter that ended March 31, 2009.

Taking a cue from audience preferences, Sony TV launched some of its new programmes last week. With eight new programmes for the summer, including reality, fiction and even historical shows from different production houses, Sony is hoping to come out on tops. There’s Chittod Ki Rani: Padmini Ka Johur, a period love story that is being produced by Nitin Desai, who was also the art director of Ashutosh Gowarikar’s film Jodhaa Akbar.

It will be shown Monday to Friday at 8 pm. The serial is set to have 104 episodes, shot on a mammoth budget of Rs 3 lakh, per episode. The 8.30 pm slot will be taken by Palampur Express, a story about a small-town girl who dreams about becoming a champion runner for the country. It’s a feel-good aspirational story that the channel hopes will be received well in smaller towns.

There’s another show called Bhaskar Bharti, a romantic comedy produced by DJ’s Unit, one of the oldest production houses in the country. Unfortunately, the story of Bhaskar Bharti is an adaptation of Lalola, an Argentine comedy and bears a striking resemblance to Mr ya Miss, a film that revolved around a man (Aftab Shivdasani) turning into a woman (Antara Mali) after being cursed by one of his many girlfriends. The film flopped and one doubts whether Indian audiences will accept a plot on these lines on TV. What looks promising is Ladies Special, a show produced by Optimystix where the backdrop of the serial is Mumbai’s local trains.

The serial incorporates stories of four different women, their problems and how they cope with challenges on a daily basis. I caught an episode and sincerely hope the serial does well. In an effort to promote the serial, Sony has tied up with various radio stations to host live shows from local trains. Sony is also bringing back Salman Khan’s Dus Ka Dum: Season II. Then there’s a talent hunt show, Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, produced by Wizcraft.

While Sony is all set with its new programming, Star Plus has announced BAG Films’s Mitwa, a fiction show that looks at two people in love who battle caste barriers. The channel is also bringing Aap Kee Kachehri: Season II apart from a game show called Khelo Jeeto Jiyo. Star One will also bring Hans Baliye, a comedy show with celebrities. And watch out for NDTV Imagine that just might emerge as the dark horse with programmes like Rakhi Ka Swayamvar and Seeta aur Geeta.

With announcements and launches over, the real test for these channels begins now. Who will be the winner? To find your answer, watch this space.

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First Published: Sun, May 31 2009. 00:53 IST