What is Star’s programming strategy?
It’s pretty simple. At a network level, we want to have the strongest emotional link with women in the home, and we do this primarily by mirroring their romantic aspirations and the challenges in their romantic life. That’s the strategy. This is a clear shift from the strategy that Star had in the last three years. Today, Star reflects the emotional aspirations of housewives. The next step is moving the channel to have creative content over the weekend so that we connect with other members of the family as well.
How has this changed the programmes that are aired?
Now there is a heavy degree of experimentation. We have shows like Kiran Bedi’s Aap ki Kacheri, a mother-child music reality show called Voice of India Mummy Ka Superstar, and a wedding show called Perfect Bride. We are now high on innovation and are going into categories that haven’t been done so far.
Colors has shifted the focus from saas-bahu shows to those, like Balika Vadhu, that deal with issues. How are you dealing with the shift in audience preference?
The saas-bahu categorisation is unscientific and reflects the blind labelling that goes on in the media. How can you do a family show without a saas and a bahu? We will always have them as central characters. What has changed is the kind of emotional characters we have. Now, we are not bringing in too much negativity. So we will do stories that breed positivity, that encourage. We will not do stories that are regressive or medieval in their appeal. Talking about child marriage, I don’t want to get into a war of words, but whichever way you look at it, programmes like that give a platform to child marriage and that, I think, is regressive. Child marriage, female infanticide — these should be banished from the public consciousness. The power is in the stories and in the emotional connect that we can create, not through fear and regression.
Which new Star show do you think will really become popular?
It is difficult to predict. I think Perfect Bride should do well because it’s about marriage, which is a central theme in family life. It has a strong emotional aspiration value in a country which is young and believes in the institution of marriage.