MUMBAI—Unlike for Hindi cinema, 2017 was supposed to have been a glorious year for Indian television, especially the Hindi General Entertainment space that has grown leaps and bounds on the back of interesting concepts and engaging storylines for some channels.
Zee TV, a pioneer in storytelling, presented a spectrum of new shows that tugged at everyone’s heartstrings. The year saw viewers completely take control of the kind of content they wanted to watch and where they wanted to watch it. Taking cognizance of this emerging mindset of its audiences, Zee TV freshly articulated its philosophy of “Aaj Likhenge Kal (we will write our tomorrows today),” reflective of a more action-oriented, proactive approach of the masses towards shaping their future by breaking stereotypes, self-imposed shackles and acting on their strengths today. The content offerings, keeping in sync with the philosophy, have been future-ready and encourage progressive thought.
Here’s a look-back into some truly engaging moments from 2017 which cemented Zee TV’s position as an intrinsic member of the Indian middle class.
February 2017 saw the return of Zee TV’s cult singing reality show “Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs.” Ruling with soulful music, the show featured spirited and talented kids who charmed viewers and took them on a melodious journey mentored by the show’s judges Himesh Reshammiya, Javed Ali and Neha Kakkar and the 30-member jury of music experts. The young singing talent soon became everyone’s favorites. While there have been many reality shows with similar or overlapping concepts, it was the grade of talent that set a differentiator for this show, launched as the No.1 non-fiction show in its opening week and maintaining a No. 1 position in the weekend 9 pm (IST) slot.
The climax of this longest-running 9-month long season, which saw many format innovations including the introduction of challengers, was the highest-rated grand finale of a non-fiction show clocking in 1,21,31,000 impressions.
While Zee TV’s marquee show “Kumkum Bhagya” maintained its top position and rapidly approached its 1000-episode milestone, the channel surprised the audience with its spin-off, “Kundali Bhagya,” earlier this year. The show narrates the story of Pragya’s two sisters – Preeta and Shrishti – and their attempts to reunite with their mother, Sarla. Within a week of the show’s launch, “Kundali Bhagya” proved to be a roaring success and has maintained its leadership position ever since. “Zindagi Ki Mehek,” the story of a talented cook, Mehek, also ruled audience’s hearts and continues to be everyone’s favorite.
Zee TV kick-started the year with the launch of its fiction offering “Woh Apna Sa,” which questioned prevalent mindsets, preconceived notions, and generalizations that surround love, marriage and the quest for finding one’s soul-mate. The show, with its unique concept, featuring Sudip Sahir (Aditya), Disha Parmar (Jhanvi), and Riddhi Dogra (subsequently replaced by Manasi Salvi, as Nisha) took a generation leap where Nisha’s evil intentions led to Aditya and Jhanvi’s untimely death, only for them to reborn as Arjun and Jiah.
Presenting a modern-day interpretation of the classic Vishwamitra-Menaka love story, Zee TV launched “Piyaa Albela,” in March 2017, in association with Rajshri Productions. The show featured a contemporary love story wherein parents of a reclusive, spiritual and lost-in-his-own-world Naren (Akshay Mhatre) contractually sign a lively, practical, sociable young girl Pooja (Sheen Das) to befriend their son and get him on to the right track. As the show progressed, it took a year’s leap adding more twists to Naren and Pooja’s story.
The channel also launched a twisted love story, “Aisi Deewangi.. Dekhi Nahi Kahi” in May 2017. An action-packed drama about two passionate souls, Tejaswini (Jyoti Sharma) and Prem (Pranav Misshra), the story has since seen the two characters turn a new leaf with Tejaswini’s and Prem’s wedding and its subsequent twists and turns.
Giving a desi spin to the classic tale of “Beauty and the Beast,” Zee TV fortified its prime-time band with “Jeet Gayi Toh Piyaa Morre” in August. A story of a young girl named Devi (Yesha Rughani), trapped in a loveless marriage to a mean, egoistic husband, Adhiraj (Krip Kapur Suri), the show focuses on her grit and resolve to wage a war against destiny and transform her fate, making him the husband of her dreams.
Zee TV also launched “Dil Dhoondta Hai” in September. The story of a Punjabi girl Raavi (Shivya Pathania) and a humble Maharashtrian boy Vishi (Stavan Shinde), it focuses on their life in a Mumbai chawl after marriage, and the battle for personal space.
Committed to presenting shows and homegrown concepts that make a difference, Zee TV launched shows that brought a new perspective. With the show “India’s Best Judwaah,” launched in July, the channel celebrated the unique bond between the country’s most-connected identical twins through a reality show format. Helmed and conceptualized by monozygotic twin producers Raghu Ram and Rajiv Lakshman and hosted by the father of twins Karanvir Bohra, the channel stated that the show made sure the entertainment factor was twinning too!
Turning sleuthing and adventure into an entertainment bonanza, was a weekend fiction offering in December entitled “Detective Didi,” which chronicled the lives of a dynamic private detective Bunty Sharma and a jolly cop Bhim Singh Bhullar. Breaking stereotypes and depicting women penetrating male-oriented domains, it established the female private eye as a superwoman who efficiently strikes a balance between cracking down on criminals and familial responsibilities.
Come November, the channel treated viewers with the sixth season of its popular dance reality show “Dance India Dance,” giving thousands of aspiring dancers a golden chance to showcase their talent. This season saw Mithun Chakraborty returning as the Grandmaster. While Marzi Pestonji and Mudassar Khan also returned as masters, choreographer Mini Pradhan made her debut as a master alongside first-time hosts Amruta Khanvilkar and Sahil Khattar. With dancing at its core, the show introduced weekly ace challengers like Saroj Khan, Ahmed Khan and “So You Think You Can Dance” fame international choreographer Mia Michaels to intensify the competitive spirit.
From shows like “Bhootu,” which presented a story on an adorable and friendly ghost to re-launching its popular horror docu-drama “Fear Files,” Zee TV closed the year with a promise of making 2018 an entertainment-filled ride for its viewers.
In 2018, the show goes on
Zee TV is gearing up for a future that combines entertainment and progressive storytelling. The channel enters the New Year with an unconventional love story “Aap Ke Aa Jaane Se” that will transcend the barriers of age, life-stages and background. The show marks the return of actor Suhasi Dhami as the 42-year-old lead protagonist after a brief hiatus opposite actor Karan Jotwani essaying the role of her 24-year-old love interest.
Another show, “Kaleerein,” will feature the many predicaments and dilemmas of a young Punjabi girl as she dodges the hullaballoo surrounding her marriage. Dancing will continue to be an integral part of the audience’s lives as Zee TV will further its line-up of shows by soon launching its franchise “DID Li’l Masters Season 4.”