Summer bonanza

Updated: Apr 30 2006, 05:30am hrs
Brace yourself. Prime time on general entertainment channels (GECs) wont be the same this summer. Traditionally kiddie channels are the only ones that rev up their summer act to grab more eyeballs, but this time around even GECs seem to have gone into a programming revamp. At least eight new shows are in the pipeline. Both weekday and weekend prime time bands will have plenty of on-air action and the shows gearing up for launch will be aired on Star Plus, Star One, Sony, Zee, Sahara One and Sab TV.

Star Plus replaces its daily soap Milee with the much-awaited Ravi Chopra production Viraasat (Mondays-Thursdays; 9 pm slot; from May). Star has also lined up two shows Prithviraj Chauhan Dharti Ka Ek Veer Yodha, and Ek Chaabi Pados Mein for launch in May.

Says Star India senior creative director Shailja Kejriwal, Prithviraj Chauhan will run from Fridays to Sundays (May 12 onwards) at 9 pm filling the KBC2 slot, while Ek Chaabi Pados Mein is yet to be scheduled.

Star One gets set for a brand new celeb show (from May 1, Mondays-Thursdays; 9.30 pm) Heartbeat, which is based on the Endemol format. Elaborates producer Siddhartha Basu, The format is novel and the host is a mysterious voice. The celeb guest adds a face to the show, and is trapped in a chamber where the rate of heartbeats decides the time he/she has to answer. The prizes could be anything from Rs 50,000 to Rs 25 lakh.

After strengthening their position with the Shaandar Shukravar package, Sony has launched two new shows on April 24: Aisa Des Hai Mera (weekdays; 9 pm) and Thodi Khushi Thode Gham (weekdays; 9.30 pm). The new shows have replaced Indian Idol 2 on Mondays/Tuesdays, and Deal Ya No Deal on Wednesdays/Thursdays. The latter will be made into a weekly and will be aired on Fridays (8 pm) with a new anchor (Rajeev Khandelwal) in its third season. After Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi ends its run on May 4, after which a horror flick, Khaufnaak, airs for a month before another new show is introduced. Says Sony TV COO NP Singh, We will roll out our new programming strategy step by step in the coming months. By July, the programming schedule of Sony will be completely transformed. Our new line up of 9-10 pm shows, is aimed at wholesome family viewing.

Sab TV launches a daily soap, Twinkle Beauty Parlour, from May. After Business Bazigaar, Zee TV flagged off Jabb Love Hua on April 24 in the 8.30 pm slot, and is aired on weekdays. Produced by Tony and Deeya Singh (the makers of Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin, Just Mohabbat and Banegi Apni Baat), the serial is expected to be Zees trump card. Also coming up soon on the channel is Johnny Ai La Re, where actor Johnny Lever makes his television debut. Once Buniyaad ends in May, Sahara One has a new show. In May we have a fiction-based show and in June we are launching a non-fiction show, says Sahara One COO Purnendu Bose.

And with an action-packed prime time fiesta lined up, get set for the war of ratings in the next few months.