`WE ARE perhaps the only production company to air shows in all genres in seven languages on 26 channels across 19 countries," Zarina Mehta, Creative Director of UTV is visibly proud when she states this. Be it India, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia... be it Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, English, Hindi... be it daily soaps, game shows, thrillers, children's programmes, business shows, travel shows... UTV, a charming Zarina puts it softly, has done this, seen that long before many players in the field.
"Long before afternoon dailies became a norm, we started Shanti on Doordarshan, long before the channels took interest in game shows, we had Snakes and Ladder on Zee TV. When we talk of chat shows, we started off with Chakravyuh. In the field of animation, we have many names to name. Our show Shaka Laka Boom, which started on DD and then moved to Star Plus, is now the longest running kids show. Even Sea Hawks was a ground-breaking serial," the lady makes you count the firsts in what seems like one long breath. Having reaped success, she says, many a UTV serial is now running in different languages elsewhere such as Shanti being shown on Sri Lankan television, Shaka Laka Boom being aired on Vijaya TV in Tamil.
Starting a little over a decade, UTV, she continues, is hooked on to three focus areas - films, animation content and content supply to television, both fiction and non-fiction. "On Indian television currently, we have most shows on Star Plus such as Shararat, Khichdi, Bhabhi, Shaka Laka Boom, Kehta Hai Dil. On Doordarshan, we have Meher. We are also making a show for BBC Back To The Flow which will have interviews with the CEOs like Nandan Nilekeni, Mukesh Ambani etc," Zarina says.
And then, besides a few film projects, UTV is now all set to begin its first channel, Hungama TV for children from this year end. The creative head states, even this too will have many innovative facets. "For instance, the channel has a board of kids director. This is a new concept where the final decision-makers are the kids themselves for whom the contents are meant for. Though we will have a few animation shows, but the focus would be on more on interactive shows, something which kids would find much more exciting than mere school currriculum-related programmes," she adds.
If at this point, you ask the lady, where is UTV going next, she poses briefly before lacing these words with a beautiful smile: "Don't you think we have done more than enough?" Well, let's leave this for viewers' choice.
SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY
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