11 general entertainment channels. 52 weeks in a year. 350 TV shows waiting to be registered with the IMPPA (Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association) and the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) every month.
The number of shows that actually come on air is much lesser than those that get registered or at best, applied for, every year. On an average, every week the associations receive at least 100 applications from various big and small production houses registering show titles. The registration procedure takes a minimum of 30 days and the fee is a modest Rs 500 per title for a year. After that, if the registration is not extended, the title is up for grabs.
Maybe that’s the reason that most producers register at least five to eight versions of their show’s titles. Ekta Kapoor of Balaji Telefilms is famous for registering over 10 title versions for most of her shows. Another producer, on the condition of anonymity, admits that he prefers registering at least a dozen variations of titles for his shows, regardless of whether he produces them immediately or later in the year.
According to producer Rajan Shahi from Director’s Kut Productions, it’s safe to register variations. “For some producers, registering multiple variations of their show’s name is important because they may want to consider an alternate name at a later production stage. Some, of course, do it because the procedure is not very expensive. I know some producers who love to keep titles to themselves for many years even if they don’t use it on a show for some quirky reason,” he adds.
Vikas Mohan of Super Cinema and one of the authoritarians at the association, says that though there are several heated fights and arguments over titles, it rarely gets blown into an issue. “Most serials, whose titles are registered, don’t get made. In such a situation if some producer asks us for a particular title, we try and get it for him. The condition is that the title should be apt for the show’s concept. Otherwise, we try and pacify the producer with some other titles,” he says, adding that even filmmakers register and re-register their titles to save it for themselves and use it in the future.
If two producers can’t come to an agreement on a title that one of them owns and the other wants, the organisation either asks for a change in the title or tries to find middle ground, either of which work most of the time. Most show titles these days are drawn from songs and titles of old Hindi films, folk music and sometimes are just kept because they’re apt for the story of the show.
While Kesariya Balam Aavo Hamare Des (Sahara One) is based on a Rajasthani folk song and Yeh Pyaar Na Hoga Kam is drawn from a song in Mann; Jyoti (NDTV Imagine), Pavitra Rishta (Zee TV), Balika Vadhu, Uttaran (Colors), Pratigyaa (Star Plus) and Laado (Colors) give out the show’s theme in one word. The idea is to find titles that give away the gist of the story.
Mohan cites that titles like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahani Ghar Ghar Kii, Kasauti Zindagi Kay and Kabhi Sautan Kabhi Saheli (all Star Plus) were used to draw families to the soaps.
Now, the idea is to find an instant connect with the audience. “Everyone wants to have a crisp and easy title to remember. Eventually the content has to be good. But the initial enthusiasm for either comes from the title. For instance, Laagi Tujhse Lagan (Colors) was interesting. Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma (SAB TV) isn’t straightforward but increases curiosity,” explained Mohan.
However, the association doesn’t encourage double meaning titles. Mohan says that at least 50 titles that come to the association for registration are outright rejected every month because they are obscene and double barreled. “Some corny producer wanted to register Andheri Raat Mein, Diya Tere Haath Mein and Biwi Chali Gaon, Bhabhi Se Kaam Chala Loonga for family shows. Do these names say that the show will be family oriented? We didn’t think twice on these titles. Reputed producers never resort to these cheap tactics. It’s only some sleazoids who want to register them,” said Mohan.
Validity of the association
A producer, on the condition of anonymity, said that the associations, IMPPA and AMPTP, in Mumbai don’t hold any ground on the issue of titles. “Getting an apt title is a big tussle sometimes. Our association of producers in Mumbai has no standing in the legal sphere. Once a producer had an issue over a title that he wanted, which someone else had and didn’t want to let go of, he went to the Supreme Court and even patented the title. The other guy obviously lost, thanks to the lack of knowledge and later, the time,” he rues.