Online bug bites Indian soaps

New concepts

Online bug bites Indian soaps

At least, not in our country where soap operas can give good competition to alcohol and tobacco in terms of addiction! Raman Kumar, a veteran television celebrity in India (Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Tara and Saath Saath were his creations) and Khalid Hashmi (the man who played a pivotal role in the launch of Zee News) of 10,000 Media Ventures have tied up with popular portal ibibo.com to launch what is perhaps India’s first soap opera on the Internet.

 However, unlike the serials that you watch on television, this will not have 30-minute episodes. In line with the average time spent by a user on a website, the online soap opera will have 24 episodes of five minutes each. Sounds too small to make an impact? Perhaps, but the producers feel that this is optimal, keeping in mind the medium of transmission and their target viewers.

Raman Kumar, one of the best known directors in the Indian television scene today explains, “In the case of a television serial, the primary target audience is the housewife. However, in the case of an Internet serial, it is the young generation. We feel that they will prefer such short five-minute episodes rather than long, half-an-hour ones.” Interestingly, the makers are also keeping in mind the biggest strength of the Internet — democracy. This is a medium where everyone is equal and has the same right to information. For this serial, there will not be any established names and anyone with an online presence can write, direct and act in the show. Talent is what will matter the most.
Siddhartha Deshaprabhu, the Associate Director Marketing of ibibo.com says, “We are calling these iSerials and trying to bring about unexplored storylines to give viewers a fresh experience. There will be three divisions — acting, direction and script. People from across the world can log on to our site — http://groups.ibibo.com/iserialstars and upload their nominations in the form of videos.” Once the nominations are uploaded, the users of the iBibo site can log on and vote for the person whom they think is the best. However, finally, the crack team of Kumar and Hashmi will decide on the cast and crew for the serial.

 “We plan to launch these iSerials starting early next year. Our target viewers will be the youth of today. They log on to the Internet every morning instead of reading newspapers or watching television. The five-minute serials will be good enough to hold their interest!” adds Deshaprabhu.

 The trio (Kumar, Hashmi and management of ibibo.com) feel that this is the right time to launch such a show. Internet video sites, they feel, play a significant role in making the web profitable, and availability and affordability of broadband are also improving. In fact, reports suggest that by 2011 there will be 200 million broadband Internet users out of which 183 million or 91 per cent will watch online videos.

Raman Kumar was the man who directed Tara, India’s first satellite television serial. He is also going to be the man behind the country’s first online serial. Will he be able to repeat his success story? This is an answer for which we will have to wait for another couple of months.

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