Sunday, July 31, 2011

What happened to Imagine TV?

After watching first episode Imagine TV's new reality show 'Gazab Desh Ki Ajab Kahaniyan' (which seemed a rehashed version of its own earlier show 'Rakhee Ka Insaaf' which was infact an Indianised version of 'Judge Amy' on CBS-TV) I felt a tinge of sadness.

Now I understand that after watching a show starring Rakhee
Sawant (who must be now majority share holder or senior office bearer in Imagine TV, if regularity or importance of her shows are any indicators) you can feel anything but sadness. But I felt sad for
the channel. It's like seeing your favorite and once bright student in class getting ruined.

Imagine TV was once my favorite. When launched as NDTV Imagine with much fanfare and Karan Johar as an associate (which meant Karan used to host a show) the channel's line up was so different from its contemporaries and competitors that it was a study in contrast from other newly launched 9X. While 9X had same kind of saas-bahu serials that were running on other leading GECs Star Plus, Zee and Sony, Imagine had a refreshing mix of programs.

The soaps (few of which were women-oriented) had a completely different and fresh feel to them courtesy, a mature treatment and urban setting which ensured that the channel didn't look like yet another GEC clone. And then there were reality shows most notable of which was Farhan
Akhtar's 'Oye It's Friday'. High on production values and higher on entertainment quotient OIF was the crown prince of Imagine's lineu
p. But the show which brought maximum TRP to the channel was a new version of 'Ramayan'! Produced by Sagar Entertainment which kept the style of the show EXACTLY similar to the original series, success of 'Ramayan' surprised everyone. It showed that the channel management was ready to balance between new and old ideas and have a healthy mix of both.

But it seemed the soaps were ahead of their times because it was still the age of 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki' and 'Kyunki..'. Sony had not reformed itself and though clearly ahead of 9X and Real (which hardly was a blip on the GEC radar) Imagine's successes were limited. And with big bang-big budget arrival of Colors even the leader was threatened.

Imagine's shows too began to follow the 'market trend'. If rural setting was in fashion, then we had a village. If social issues were the trend, we had a bunch of those. If middle class was in vogue, then we had a middle class belle. "If you can't beat them, join them" was the mantra. While surfing apart from channel logo, there was nothing in Imagine's programming which would differentiate it from any other GEC.

And then somewhere down the line 'Rakhee Ka Swayamvar' happened! This was both good and bad for the channel. Good because it gave tremendous TRP. Headlines Today (a laggard in English News Channels) topped the tables that week just because they gave the finale of the show massive coverage!!
Bad because it started a trend of bad reality shows on the channel. 'Raaz Pichhle Janam Ka' was another annual atrocity and then last year we had a lame 'Zor Ka Jhatka' (Indianised version of 'Total Wipeout') which even SRK couldn't salvage.

Imagine CEO Sameer Nair had said in an interview once that they want to settle as a competitive 4th or easy 5th (meaning just after Star,Zee, Colors and Sony and well ahead of others) but latest reports say that even Star One and SAB TV beat his channel comprehensively.

And I guess now their hopes are pinned on loudmouth Rakhee who is back on Imagine in a show ('Gazab Desh..) whose PR was focussing around her demands for a particular type of underwear! How low can you stoop...Imagine!