Sorry guys, certain recent events have evoked some very strong emotions, which I feel like expressing right now. Hence the second part of the first meetings piece will only show up next week.
I remember that day in February when Goldie Behl first shared with me, Sameer Nair’s vision of a channel catering to people like us, showing us what we would want to watch and most importantly giving us a chance to create what we were dying to create… Emotionally and physically I almost hit the ceiling (yes I do tend to be a tad dramatic). Those zillion ideas that teased and tormented me but nobody was buying finally would have their shot at becoming real…
I remember those weeks of frenzied activity as we turned ideas into concepts – the excitement and the energy was so high that nobody needed any artificial stimulants (well they did use them but I still maintain they didn’t need them).
Sometimes we were hunting for stills from Bond movies to embellish a presentation of our saving the country action adventure show. Sometimes we were coming up with con ideas to flesh out our take on competing con artists. Frantic research on Goa was happening to add colour and meat to a sexy crime thriller set on the beaches of that favoured holiday destination. Feverish brainstorming was happening for a high tech, forensic driven detective show. People were throwing crazy gags and punch lines at each other for a Bridget Jones-ish sitcom, that too before the said lady herself had entered the realms of popular fiction
I remember our pitch – 17 shows… that’s right. That was the kind of enthusiasm and excitement that the promise of Star One had instilled in us.
Ok so we didn’t get to do all 17, but the magic of getting to do a Remix, a Guns and Roses and a Studio One was more than enough. And there always was the possibility of more of those ideas becoming shows if the first lot of shows did well…
I remember the Star One launch party – honestly those were some of the slickest, most enthralling promos I had ever seen in my life. Even if I was not involved even slightly with most of the shows that blew my mind, I didn’t care. It was such a high to be on the same channel as those kind of shows. I mean what a line up – a cerebral crime thriller involving everything from blood spatter analysis to ballistics and a tinge of good old fashioned intimidation and interrogation. A Kill Bill meets Charlie’s Angels revenge saga in Goa. The courtroom and chawl battles of a once mercenary lawyer who’d discovered a conscience, lost everything he’d earned but found a purpose in life. The doctor who’d inherited a gangster empire. The two dysfunctional Gujarati families, one sophisticated, one super crass, both of whom had us ROFLing. And how can I forget the four teens who turned their rebelliousness angst into rock anthems and became a youth cult?
I remember the incredible array of creative and technical talent on the channel – Charu, Saket, Renuka, Shikha, Radhika, Nupur, Joy, Umesh, Abhinav, Bijesh, Satyam, Barnali, JD- Aatish, Veena, Vinil… the list can just go on and on. Interesting how many of these people went on to make films and fabulous films at that. Few channels can ever boast of having so many fantastic storytellers working for them at the same time…
Sure the first lot of shows didn’t work. But I don’t think the vision was wrong. Maybe the attempt was too western, trying too hard to be like the English shows we all loved and aspired to emulate. Maybe we need to work harder, learn more, spend more time rewriting, reshooting, planning… There could be lots of reasons but the fact was if the channel had stayed on course, if the original vision had been retained, sooner or later we would have all got it right and created our own brand of hip, urban Indian shows…
But the vision was derailed for a while, an attempt was made to go more mainstream – that didn’t work either.
And then came the glory period of Star One, when it went back to its young, urban roots.
Dil Mill Gaye and Miley Jab Hum Tum – sure they were both candyfloss and popcorn not edgy or unsettling. But they were contemporary, they were urban – I mean for the bulk of its existence – MJHT had just one parent character and she was the maddest, hippest mom TV has probably seen (and yes I’m patting my own back here – she’s one of my favourite creations) and most importantly they struck a chord with the youth who embraced the shows and took Star One to the dizzying heights of 150 rating points. Maybe the channel was not a Plus or a Colours but in its own way it was a success, and it succeeded in getting the eyeballs and winning the hearts of the youth, which is the hardest thing to do as anyone in this business will concur…
The strange thing was that having reached these heights, they chose to abandon this audience and seek out the Plus audience and that sealed the fate of Star One.
One was always a youth channel. The other audiences had Plus, Colours, Zee… why would they come here? Which is why even the current hit Geet only worked to the extent it did when it become more youthful, romantic, fun… But burdened by the desire to appeal to the whole of the country and every age group, the channel could never again be a success – which is perhaps why in all that time it never crossed 40 GRP.
Naturally it was living on borrowed time, the plug would be pulled sooner or later. And now it has. But now that it’s deformed so much from its original vision it’s even hard to shed tears for the death of this avatar. The One I knew, loved, the One who was close to my heart died a long time ago… and it’s that one I grieve for and miss so much today.
I also miss the working relationships, the friendships that sprung up during this channel. One fact about One was that while the programming may have changed, while the programming teams may have changed, the one thing that never changed was the innate goodness, niceness and pleasantness of the teams. Truly the Star One teams were the best teams I have had the good fortune of working with in all my years in TV. So today as the sun sets on Star One I remember Deepak, Anita, Aparna, Sanvari, Vivek, Monica, Rohini, Nikita, Anand with fondness and love. Thank you for some of the happiest and most fun memories of TV.
While signing off I must observe that the domain abandoned by One has been appropriated, and successfully by its own sister channel V with two successful youth show. Which just goes to show that the original vision of the channel was bang on and if only the powers that be had stuck with it, One could have really gone places.
And therefore though Star One will die, the vision will live on. Another time, another platform, another medium perhaps (the web) the vision of One will come back stronger, younger, edgier, more exciting, more enthralling. That I do believe and that is the triumph of the dream that was Star One.
It was a good dream. It remains a great dream.
And it will happen…