By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Television has been bitten by the sequels bug. Most channels are launching new seasons of popular fiction shows as fewer episodes - as opposed to long-running saas-bahu sagas - have created the space for it.
After the launch of the second season of Imagine TV's "Kitani Mohabbat Hai" in November 2010, Zee TV launched "Choti Bahu 2". Now Sony TV will soon launch "Mahi Way 2", produced by Yash Raj Films (YRF) TV, and STAR Plus is reportedly planning a sequel to its hugely popular show "Bidaai".
Producers and channels admit sequels are being launched primarily because of viewers' demands and to beat competition from other channels.
"We were overwhelmed by the response we received from viewers for 'Choti Bahu'. Since the time the show ended, we were flooded with calls, SMSs and mails from viewers all over the world to revive the magic of Dev and Radhika (lead characters)," said Sukesh Motwani, fiction head, Zee TV.
"Mahi Way", a story of an overweight girl who faces the hardships every day in her unique way, continued to get a positive response long after it ended. But, according to producer YRF TV, a sequel for the show was always at the back of its mind.
"When we launched our shows in 2010, we had planned them in a way so that we do not have to make 400 episodes or so. We did just 26 episodes, which told the entire story, and we had always thought that if the show is successful, we will do a second season and continue the story. That's what we will be doing in 'Mahi Way 2'," Ravina Kohli, creative head of YRF TV, told IANS.
"The Facebook page of 'Mahi Way' has been growing every day...people are waiting for the second season. For the first season, we got a very good response through blogs, e-mails and chat forums. So we are doing a second season because it has been a very popular show, received a tremendous response, and the channel also wants us to repeat its success," she added.
The sequel or season concept for fiction shows may be new for Indian shows; it has worked well for international sitcoms like "Friends", "Baywatch", "Sex And The City" and "Desperate Housewives.
In India the success has been scaled only with non-fiction shows like "Kaun Banega Crorepati", "Indian Idol", "Sa Re Ga Ma Pa", "Nach Baliye", "Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa", "Bigg Boss", "Khatron Ke Khiladi" and "Roadies".
Channels experimented with sequels to fiction shows like "Saara Akaash", "Sanjeevani", "Left Right Left", "Baa Bahu Aur Baby" and "Khichdi" in the past, but they proved to be dampeners.
However, industry members are quite confident that viewers are gradually opening up to the season format and they might taste success this time.
Ajay Bhalwankar, programming head of Sony Entertainment Television, says television is consumed in a very different way in India compared to abroad.
"We have much more single TV households in our country and channels are required to cater to the interests of five to six members at a single home. So we have to grip the audience for a long time. That becomes a little tough with seasonal shows. But things look promising now as viewers are on a constant lookout for change," he said.
So far "Office Office" and "Yes Boss" are among the few shows with a successful second innings.
A major deterrent to the popularity of the sequel format in India was perhaps the success of saas-bahu sagas like "Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" and "Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki", which lasted six to eight years.
However, shows now are short and crisp comparatively - usually a story is wrapped up in a year or even less, leaving scope for a next season where the narrative gets a fresh perspective.
"There is so much competition between channels these days...if they will not change content fast enough, the audience is intelligent enough to switch over, unlike earlier when they used to be loyal to one or two shows alone," said Kohli.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)