Sahara Manoranjan is quietly dropping several of its mega Hindi film star-based programmes.
"Karishma", the serial in which Karishma Kapoor acts, is going off air by November. "Saheb Biwi Aur Ghulam", which stars Raveena Tandon, has already gone off the air after completing 104 episodes. "Malini Iyer", the comedy sitcom in which Sridevi acts, is still on air but is not quite the rage, as the company admits.
As a result, the Subrato Roy-promoted general entertainment channel is going for a complete programming revamp.
The channel itself is being rechristened Sahara One. Also, the company has appointed a new chief operating officer, Karuna Samtani. Samtani said, "The serials were well intended and made with a reason but a combination of failure of content, promotion and marketing led to their decline."
Satish Menon, vice-president, marketing, added: "We lost out on "Karishma" because of the delay in airing owing to the legal tangle, and because of events like the bomb blasts in Mumbai that increased viewership for news-based channels."
Ashish Bhasin, director, IMAG, Lintas India, said: "With a star-based serial, the producer expects the actor to shoulder the serial completely, irrespective of the storyline. Today's consumer is discerning and so will reject any serial that does not have quality content."
Menon agreed that a film star has a definite audience draw but the story is equally important. Bhasin said, "The promotions for film star-based serials fail to go beyond the star and so one can only remember the star's face but nothing of the story or her character."Bad serials have no place in the mind of an Indian viewer, he added. So will Sahara do away with such serials in future? It does not rule out the possibility. With the name change that Samtani terms "progressive", catering to the growing entertainment business, both Bhasin and Samtani are willing to consider film star-based serials but with a good story in place.