Star puts accent on selling

Territory report: India

NEW DELHI — Star India, already easily outrunning its rivals in the ratings stakes, will be in selling rather than buying mode at this year’s Mipcom.

Shantanu Lalavadi, Star India senior VP, tells Variety that he’s hopingto ride the rising wave of interest in Indian product in places as far-flung as the Persian Gulf, Britain, and the U.S.

“For the past two or three years we have been building up a bank — I’ll be going to Mipcom with 4,000 hours of TV programming and 1,600 Bollywood movies,” he says.

Some product such as gameshows, travel, cooking, cultural and esoteric programs (especially on yoga) are geared at non-Asian communities, whereas sitcoms, serials, horror shows, quizzes and, of course, movies are aimed at Asian communities abroad.

Product is mainly in Hindi but will be dubbed into the language of a customer’s choice, he notes.

At his first showing at Mipcom last year, he did deals with countries including Malaysia, Mauritius and Poland.

Lalavadi’s colleague, Star Plus creative and programming director Tarun Katiyal, will have on his buyer’s hat, but just how much he has to spend he’s not saying.

“I’m going to look for game and variety formats, drama properties that can be adapted and produced in India and other clip deals for smaller shows,” he says.

He’s hoping to emulate the success of Star’s master stroke in 2000, when it bought the rights to quizzer “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and turned it into the Hindi-language hit “Kaun banega crorepati?”

Until then, Star had only managed one or two programs a week in the top 50, but the runaway success of “Crorepati” drew audiences to the fledgling channel. It now dominates the top 50 programs in the main Hindi- and English-lingo markets, often making a clean sweep.

The rest of Star’s programming in India will be left to Star’s Hong Kong honchos, notably Steve Askew.

With other Indian channels focused on producing more and more soaps and news programs — the main primetime fare — the boys from Star will have Mipcom to themselves.

Zee TV’s Ashwini Yardi, who normally makes the trip, says she will be staying home this year.

“I have plenty of programming — I don’t need any more right now,” she tells Variety.

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