Star Plus announced the launch of its much awaited mega show – a retelling of the classic Indian epic of Mahabharat. Produced by Siddharth Kumar Tewary’s Swastik Production, Mahabharat will go on air on September 16, 2013. The show will be telecast Monday to Friday in the 8.30 PM primetime slot.
The show will be replacing Star’s ‘Ek hazaaron mein meri behna hai’ in the 8.30 PM slot. Mahabharat will be a half-hour show consisting of a fixed 128 episodes.
“The story of Mahabharata has been told and retold several times over. But if you see, the current generation of under twenty-fives, that is, those who had not grown up watching Mahabharat on Sunday mornings, would probably not know about the complexity and enormity of the story. By bringing the story into our lives again, we want the younger generation to learn the saga and the history,” said Nikhil Madhok, Vice-President – Marketing at Star India.
“Star Plus is a storyteller to the nation. Mahabharata, though an epic, is not so well known in its details because, one, it is complex. It is not linear, it has many characters and similarly many viewpoints. Again, it is difficult to pass it down from generation to generation through storytelling. Thus, we will be telling the story, but unlike the classic retelling of the story through the eyes of ‘samay’ or time, this time it would be from Lord Krishna’s viewpoint. As such, Krishna would not just tell us the story of the great epic but also pose questions to us which we must ponder on later,” added Madhok.
The show has been in the making for three years. This is the reason why Star feels that the research has been thorough. Author Devdutt Pattanaik has helped with creative inputs while Salim Khan has helped Mihir Bhuta with dialogues. Oscar winning designer Bhanu Athaiya, music directors Ajay-Atul, action director Ram Shetty are also part of the show. What remains to be seen is whether the audience, especially the younger generation, is interested in epic themed shows which blur history and fiction in the storytelling.
The magnum opus is a big bet for Star – and they are not leaving any stone unturned to promote the show. The main marketing strategy is of disruption – to shake up people and get their attention.
On-ground:Star has created Mahabharat themed museums across 7-8 cities. These museums will showcase an array of weapons and jewellery used by characters in the show. The museums, set up in major malls for two consecutive weekends, will also have a 3D virtual tour of the set. Continuous screening of ‘the making of Mahabharat’ would also be shown near these museums. There will also be Glasstrons – something like a sci-fi glass – on the screen on which viewers would be able to see content linked to the show.
To make sure that the show reaches not only the urban mass but also the Tier 1 and 2 cities and towns, the same museum has been converted to a ‘Mahabharat Museum on Wheels’ that will have LED installed canter vans travelling throughout the country. There will also be a temple activation programme for Lord Krishna, who is the narrator of the story.
The major target audience for the show is the younger generation, especially those who haven’t watched BR Chopra’s Mahabharat on DD. To connect with this generation, Star Plus will travel to colleges across various cities and install a virtual wardrobe there. The youngsters can then see themselves on TV screens dressed as any of the characters from the show. Star will use the Kinect Mirror technology for this leg of the promotion.
Though the channel is not ready to disclose anything right now, more activities are planned for the next six months – each time a special turn of events takes place in the show.
Online and social media:Mobile has not been ignored by the channel to promote the show. The channel will introduce a high engagement app which will allow users to listen to Mahabharat shlokas, take part in daily contests, pose with different weapons and jewellery from the show and even go through the entire family tree of the Mahabharat characters.
On social media sites, most shows or channels already have a page. Mahabharat will be no different. However, the Star Plus marketing team has taken things a step further by creating a page for each of the major characters of the show. This way, when a viewer relates to a person from the saga, it becomes easier to connect with him as well.
While, there will be uploads on YouTube of specific content from the show – like ‘the making of Mahabharat – full episodes will not be uploaded for virtual or online viewing yet. This will also prove to the viewers that the show is valuable and premium, hopes Star.
Radio, TV, print & Outdoor: The traditional mediums have not been overlooked. While print will see a major disruptive campaign breaking out on the day of the launch, radio ads have already gone on air. The ads talk about the show and also about the Mahabharat museums in different cities.
On television, five character centric TVCs have been created including one each on Draupadi, Krishna, Shakuni and Arjun, which are already on air. The teasers were launched four months in advance. These are being shown through the Star Network as well as 25 other channels. Again, the making of Mahabharat is being shown during primetime on Star as well. The ‘Making’ features interviews with the key crew from the show that includes personalities like Bhanu Athaiya, Rajit Kapur, Omung Kumar, Mihir Bhuta, Thomas Xavier, etc., apart from exclusive behind the scenes clips from the show.
The outdoor campaign for the show will cover around 100 cities across the country. It includes innovations like a life-size mannequin of Arjun firing an arrow at a fish rotating on a motor above him. There will also be one of Shakuni – not as the scheming uncle but the brother who wants to avenge his sister’s humiliation – with his dice. These will be in place of posters.