Colors: Ten Years of a Glorious Journey

20 Jul,2018

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

It will be 10 years, to the day, tomorrow (July 21, 2018) from the launch of Colors in India. To say that the launch of Colors has been the most significant TV channel launch in India since satellite TV came in would be stating the obvious. The launch was that and a lot more. Let’s rewind.

 

The 90s were the fledging decade for Hindi GECs, with a low consumer base restricted to the top urban centres. In 2000, when Star Plus brought in Kaun Banega Crorepati and (what came to be known as) the K-serials, they ‘massified’ television, making it relevant to a wider audience set pan India. By 2005, however, fatigue was setting in fast. Audiences K-serials of the times were fueling negativity in the name of drama. Incidents of marital tension in real-life couples because of what they saw in these serials were not uncommon. Neither were stories about broken remotes.

 

In 2006, K-serials (and non-K ones of their ilk) widened their net to Zee TV, but it was still more of the same. The ground was getting prepared for a change that will shake up the category. Ideally, one of the top existing players of the time should have done it. But they didn’t, paving way for a new entrant to disrupt and rule.

 

There was a lot to like about Colors when it launched. The first, and the most memorable, visuals in my mind are from the first week of Balika Vadhu. The show looked nothing like the K-serials. K-serials were generally red-hued and ornate, set indoors, and had a lavish but claustrophobic feel to them. Balika Vadhu was earthy in its tone and hue, its characters spoke a language that was authentic, and unlike anything you saw in the K-serials, its visuals were open and refreshing, even in the indoor scenes. That the protagonist was a child multiplied the differentiating factor further.

 

Khatron Ke Khiladi (KKK), the tentpole launch vehicle, did its job. In the four weeks it was on air, it set the ground for viewers to sample Balika Vadhu and Jai Shri Krishna, aired back-to-back in the 8-9 PM slot, creating a base of loyal fiction audiences very early in the channel’s life.

 

But KKK was only the start of the channel’s long and successful journey with non-fiction content. The channel quickly launched Bigg Boss to follow it up. Over this decade, Bigg Boss has emerged as the channel’s flagship non-fiction show. If it was not for Colors, one may have never seen Bigg Boss on Indian television again after the first season on Sony in 2006-07.

 

With Balika Vadhu, the channel found a content space that it could bank on. It was a curious mix of social issues and child protagonists. Uttaran was the next big success, with some of the episodes touching 7-8% TVR, an unreal number even in those times. While there were other successes too, like NaaAanaIss Des Laado, the channel went a little overboard in trying to replicate its success formula in the 2009-10 period, after it had become a clear No 1 in early 2009. So, when Star Plus came up with its ‘RishtaWohi, SochNayi’ proposition in late 2010, it managed to cease the initiative back.

 

But Colors was not a fad that would go away. Through the eight years since then, the channel has managed to keep the category leaders Star Plus and Zee TV on their toes, topping them on viewership in several weeks, including currently. This performance has largely come on the back of content outside the traditional fiction space, driven by reality shows and weekend series like Naagin, now in its third season. The channel has never shied away from innovating, and the launch of a live prime-time format Rising Star in 2017 is a testimony of that.

 

The Colors’ journey is one of many glorious achievement, though there have been the odd disappointment here and there too. I often wonder how this category would have shaped up if this channel had not launched. The answer is that the category would have poorer without Colors. Less differentiated, less vibrant.

 

Congratulations to everyone at Viacom18 and Colors, who has been a part of this journey, including the founding team, that has moved on since. Hope the next decade is even more remarkable, even more colorful.

 

 

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