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STAR mulls desi colour to foreign soaps

Mythologicals and desi versions of hit serials like Desperate Housewives and Lost - CEO of STAR Entertainment India Sameer Nair is buzzing with new ideas to improve the TRPs of his channels STAR Plus and STAR One.

india Updated: May 20, 2006 15:29 IST

Mythologicals and desi versions of hit serials like Desperate Housewives and Lost - CEO of STAR Entertainment India Sameer Nair is buzzing with new ideas to improve the TRPs of his channels STAR Plus and STAR One.

Nair, back from his honeymoon after his marriage with Sanvari Alagh who was assistant director in the hit show Nach Baliye is quite upbeat about the recently launched historical saga Prithviraj Chauhan on STAR Plus.

"Our first historical 'Prithviraj Chauhan' has just started. Earlier, during the days of national television we had great historical serials like Chanakya, Great Maratha and Tipu Sultan.

"We have spent almost three times more money on this project than the average or not-so-average serial. It has no budgetary parallel. We are continuously trying to break into new genres.

"We had great success with Nach Baliye on STAR One. And now we are coming back with the second innings of Nach Baliye. Our new show Heartbeat creates a new variation in the game-show genre. I always support my team to do new things."

"Now after a historical, we are looking at doing a full-scale mythological. A good story never fails," Nair told IANS in an interview.

Nair feels there's a revival of interest in past cultures.

"Not just in this country, but all over the world. As long as the story is well told. In Hollywood Troy, Gladiator, Alexander and The Da Vinci Code were made. History should be made interesting to be palatable. Prithivraj had never been done. He was the last great Hindu king."

STAR is looking at full-on mythologicals now.

"In a month's time, we launch Ravi Chopra's Viraasat, which does something different within the same format. We are not consciously moving away from our staple diet. But we are introducing a lot of variety."

"We are now looking at a grand mythological. We have had reasonable success buying the rights and telecasting Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana and Krishna. So far the perception that mythological serials are downmarket together with the prohibitive costs of going into the genre prevented us from going into it.

"Also, when Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana and BR Chopra's Mahabharata were done for national television there was no technical wherewithal to do them with ample flamboyance. Now we can bring all of that acumen into play."

STAR is currently contemplating which mythological to go into.

"We can either do one that hasn't been done, or we can go back to one of the mythological serials that has already been done, like they are doing in Bollywood."

STAR is also looking at doing desi versions of eminently successful international shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost.

"Everything is cyclic. And it may be time to go back to good old drama. We can re-make a drama like Desperate Housewives. Reality television had become the mainstay of television the world over. That's changing now."

Nair says STAR's biggest failure in recent times would be the overall performance of STAR One.

"We are still seeking substantial gains after NachBaliye and The Great Indian Laughter Challenge'. We want STAR Plus and STAR One to be the No 1 and No 2 channels."

Talking about all the media attention his marriage attracted, he said: "I wasn't here. My wedding was in Jaipur. But I was surprised to see all this attention. I am a very private person. We invited just 200 people in all - my friends, Sanvari's friends and her parent's friends, that's all."

Sanvari is no longer part of STAR. "She quit before marriage. She is not working right now because we are trying to get our home together. Then she'll get back to work."

Nair and Sanvari went to Santo Rini in Greece for their honeymoon.

"We went to this island that was supposed to be civilised and dignified. But I finally got to know what it meant to say, 'It's all Greek to me. But seriously my life has never seemed better, professionally or personally."

The media interest in the marriage shows Nair has arrived.

"I'd like to think I am far from arriving. Because there is a lot more to be done."