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Sumeet Raghavan gets candid about Jai Hind

tv Updated: Apr 15, 2010 15:03 IST
Rachana Dubey
Rachana Dubey
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

SummetQuite literally! TV actor Sumeet Raghavan’s show, Jai Hind, crosses the 50-episode mark with over 30 million viewers and counting. The producer plans a new show this year. As the action online hots up, we take you through all that’s in the pipeline.

Factually, the Internet outstrips TV in the number of hours users spent on it. Research shows that an average youngster spends approximately four hours every day on the Internet and two-and-a-half hours on a satellite channel.

Coming up next?
More and more production houses and TV channels plan to launch properties in the High Definition 16:9 format.Buzz is that top reality-show production house, Endemol, plans to come up with shows purely for the Internet. When asked Deepak Dhar, the head honcho of the production company that runs shows like Khatron Ke Khiladi and Bigg Boss, he admits it’s true.

“A plan is in place for web-based content as it’s one of the strongest emerging mediums with a worldwide reach. You know instantly what works and what doesn’t. It’s hugely untapped in terms of advertising though with great scope for earning extra revenue,” he adds.

According to Sukesh Motwani, programming head for fiction shows, Zee TV, the Internet is a “fast growing medium with great scope but right now, we can’t say whether it’s viable for us to put soaps on the net”.

When asked if any of Endemol’s properties could be turned into Internet shows, he doesn’t deny the possibility. “You might just find Khatron Ke Khiladi or Bigg Boss in special Internet editions. They’d be worth a watch!”

‘Jai Hind is our way of expressing opinions without mincing words’

Before its launch on August 15, 2009, several leading TV channels had turned it down. The reasons being “too cheeky” to “too bold comic content”. Eventually, producer Abhigyaan Jha decided to produce Jai Hind for the Internet in the High Definition 16:9 format.

He promised show host, actor Sumeet Raghavan, 30 episodes with no promise that it would continue thereafter. Jai Hind has crossed the 50-episode mark and is a big draw with young people thanks to its stand-up comedy acts.

On their own
“Frankly, neither Abhigyaan nor I expected it to work so well. Jai Hind is our way of expressing opinions without mincing words,” says Raghavan, pointing out that the channel they had approached had told them neither the host nor the concept were saleable.

Jha went from one channel to another with his show for seven years before turning to the Internet. “NDTV Imagine kept us waiting three months last year. They even drew up a contract with them after research pointed to the fact that people were hungry for a show like Movers & Shakers.

But then…” he shrugs eloquently.The producer adds that since the Internet is the domain of the youth and India has 70 crore below the age of 21, he zeroed in on it.“One has complete control over content and you have direct connect with your audience too,” he adds.

What an idea!
The idea of creating Jai Hind came from Jha’s 14-year-old daughter Vedica who has been watching her favourite shows online for the last two years.

Jha came up with an extension of his previous TV show, Movers and Shakers, with Raghavan, who he says, is the only actor he’s come across who’s as witty and intelligent as Shekhar Suman.

“He’s also clued into current affairs, comfortable with both English and Hindi, has a funny bone and can sing too,” Jha reasons.

Buzz is that Jha under his banner, Undercover Productions, has planned one more show that will go on the Internet later this year.

“Yes, it’s a path-breaking reality show, the world’s first 360-degree programme that will be on 24x7.” Says Jha.

Sumeet Raghavan gets candid about Jai Hind

What was your first reaction to taking Jai Hind on the net?
Well, the channels we approached thought it was trouble and I wasn’t a bankable name. But Abhigyaan was clear that he wanted only me, so we joined hands with a portal for a 30-episode run. The encouragement from the viewers was tremendous and it boosted my sagging morale.

When we started out, I didn’t know who’d watch the show. But our youngsters are sharp, Internet friendly and love tongue-in-cheek commentary on real life issues. We’ve found ourselves a whole new audience.

What’s Jai Hind?
Surprisingly, so far, there haven’t been shows made specifically for the web in India. Jai Hind, the producer claims, is the world’s first regular full-length TV show on the net. It’s aired twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, at 10.10 pm. It has had combined views of approximately 30 million.

Have you been approached for any other Internet show?
Not yet, and frankly, I don’t want to do another show on the Internet.

Now that the show is a success, do you plan to move to TV?
I don’t know if we can do that now, we’d have to really tone it down because the comments are straight in your face. (Laughs) I am sure I would lose 20 million viewers.

But outside of the Internet, no one knows about your show. We plan to have stand-up comedy nights on the lines of Russell Peters and ground activities to ensure that people know about our show.