Hemal Jhaveri, Executive Vice-President and GM, Hindi movie business, Star India, talks to Bhakti Mehta about the strategy of successfully premiering Hindi films on television
Star Gold has been known to premiere Bollywood films. What is the strategy for successfully grabbing the audience’s attention with top movie premieres?
We don’t follow any particular strategy. Every movie has to be unique; the content has to be varied. Also, one should understand the cycle of Bollywood movies. The films obviously release on theatrical platforms first. Yes, there is some piracy that follows but after a three-month window, the films then come onto the television platform.
It is very essential to understand that we have to get the audience that has not seen the movie in the theatre as well as that group that wants to watch it again. Your communication and your strategy then plays a very critical role. It sounds very dramatic but it is actually a little bit of scheduling and communication. Perhaps, that is the reason we have seen recent success when compared to other players.
The other aspect is that the audience likes consistency and we have been trying to give them that. So, if you look at the last four or five years, we had deals with stars like Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn at that point of time, along with other partners. That has helped us achieve consistency in the supply of content. We have been lucky to get content which has been good for us.
Have you seen any change in the audience behavior in viewing movie channels?
The trends for movie channels on television have pretty much been the same over the last few years. Yes, they are seeking variety, they are seeking fresh content. They also want to see content on TV which can be viewed along with the family. That is a very big aspect. Also, one should understand that we are in the business of repeats. We have to give the audience content that will stand the test of time.
How do you choose between programming Hindi films, regional and English dubbed films, which are very popular on TV today?
I think we, as people, have become content racists. We keep talking about Hindi content, South content and English content. It is actually very strange because, in the end, content is just content. If people want to watch it, they will. They will watch it irrespective of race, colour or language. It is basically just content which is working for the viewer. And since it is, we should hunt for more of it and play it more. It’s pretty much just that and it has nothing to do with English, Hindi or South movie content. If it is entertaining, then the audience will surely watch it. But, yes, the differentiator will be the communication and what becomes the programming ethos of your channel.
What makes Star Gold stand apart from the competition?
It is a strategy we have been consistent with. And it is a strategy that works for us, just as others have a strategy that works for them.
The consumer is pretty much making these choices, of where he or she wants to watch what. So, in terms of Bollywood, we have had consistent behaviour and a consistent performance record. For example, Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan did a huge number and also more recently, Baaghi 2, which is kind of considered to be a newcomer movie.
The film holds the highest recorded viewership for the number one Hindi movie premiere on TV in the country for the year. It did not have a big, mega star cast. It had Tiger Shroff, who is a three-film old hero but the film achieved the number that it did because of the way it was scheduled, programmed and pushed. And it’s a big feat for any actor to beat the big ones in the second or third movie itself. It’s huge for him and it was a big achievement for us.