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What's latest on television? Find out

This must be Sony’s nth attempt at revitalising its programming. Surviving in the entertainment channels space isn’t easy, given the competition from mega players. Poonam Saxena tells more.

tv Updated: Jan 09, 2010 13:56 IST
Poonam Saxena

Mahi WayThis must be Sony’s nth attempt at revitalising its programming. Surviving in the GEC (general entertainment channels) space isn’t easy, specially given the fierce competition from mega players like Colors, Star Plus and Zee. Sony tried a total revamp last year with a bunch of new shows (Bhaskar Bharati, Ladies Special etc), but alas, the strategy didn’t work. Now, the channel has launched a new, heavily publicised Yash Raj band of shows over weekends.

Somewhere in our collective consciousness, we still associate the Yash Raj brand with chiffon saris, Swiss chalets and sumptuous homes (someone once remarked that you should see a Yash Raj film for its lampshades and curtains). But the banner has moved on in terms of the kind of movies it supports (though not all have done worked — unsurprising really; how can you expect a film called Ta Ra Rum Pum in which Rani Mukherjee plays a fairy, to induce wild enthusiasm among audiences?)

So I was quite curious as to what Yash Raj would come up with on TV. (Would they revert to the old days and have chiffon saris floating all over the screen? Would the serials be about extended Punjabi families in London? Would everyone break into bhangra on Alpine slopes/Punjabi mustard fields?) But I was in for a surprise. The shows are ‘different.’

Among all the general entertainment channels, Sony has always been more urban and contemporary than the others. Whenever the channel tries to do mass-appealing, regressive soaps, it seems all wrong. The shows that have worked for Sony — reality shows like Boogie Woogie, or serials like CID and Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin — don’t fall into the melodramatic shaadi-parivaar-saas-bahu kind of serials.

The new weekend lineup from Yash Raj is in keeping with Sony’s modern-metro identity. Mahi Way is about an overweight girl who works in a fashion magazine (but why is the magazine entirely peopled by bitchy half-wits?). Mahi laments the fact that she hasn’t ever been kissed — a crisis for any young single working woman. (Except in our ‘Bharatiya sanskriti’ type serials of course, where the very idea of an unmarried girl kissing a member of the opposite sex would be akin to becoming a prostitute/ social outcast).

Rishta.com is about a young couple who run a matrimonial agency. The lead actress plays — gasp! — a normal working girl who comes to office in skirts.

Both Mahi Way and Rishta.com are light-hearted, occasionally amusing, ‘different.’

Seven is a kind of supernatural serial about seven people who have special powers. So far we’ve just been introduced to the characters, so let’s see how the story develops.

And then, the most ‘different’ of all — Powder, a serial about the narcotics trade in Mumbai, the drug dealers, and the men and women who hunt them down. It’s well shot, quite tightly-paced, has a gritty feel and the characters seem intriguing. It reminded me of big brother Bollywood’s more realistic underworld films. Promising.

And finally, there’s the mandatory nod to glamour and stardom in Lift Kara De, a show which seeks to find film stars’ biggest fans. The show is anchored by Karan Johar and — no surprises — the inaugural episode featured Shah Rukh Khan. Lift Kara De zeroed in on three devoted fans who then had to compete with each other — they had to sell juice from juice kiosks in Delhi. (Why juice? Well, I suppose, why not?). Whoever made the most money got to meet SRK in the studio.

There’s a charity angle woven into the show — Shah Rukh donated a little over Rs 9 lakh to a lady whose daughters are afflicted with a serious bone ailment (for their hospital treatment). While Shah Rukh is always watchable and Karan Johar is a great host, I couldn’t drum up too much enthusiasm for the show. Missable — unless you’re a star struck fan yourself.