The re-boot medical series ‘Sanjivani’ launched with much fanfare on Star Plus earlier this year. Three months into the show’s launch, ‘Sanjivani’ has been plagued with rumours of facing the axe. After denying such news to BizAsiaLive.com, producer Siddharth P Malhotra took time out for a fans Q&A on BizAsiaLive.com. We put eight burning questions to Malhotra about the direction the show has taken recently and why the shift from hospital drama to romance has taken centre stage.
How much is the channel to be blamed for the lack of promotions given to ‘Sanjivani’ for the poor ratings in India? Also, why are there no repeat telecasts of the show in India?
The channel decides how much promotions to give from day one. The producer has zero say. Producer can only request but giving promotions, how many promotions, no promotions, giving a repeat – In fact as a producer I’ve requested the channel to give us repeats, give us promotions. But this is totally in their hands. They have their strategy and reasons as to why they do or don’t give it. All we can do as producers, is ask them. They have their valid reasons, where one can’t argue with, so one listens to them and says fine. We wish we got things little differently but as a producer our job is to deliver content and product, the channel’s job is to promote and put it out there with repeats or not.
The one stand-out complaint from viewers is why there has been a sudden shift in story from the hospital drama (how it started)?
The sudden shift from the hospital drama – It actually started from the ratings, clearly. Why be hypocritical about it. One kept getting reviews that one was not emphasising with Ishani and Sid and we then moved into their love story and their track. Our writers and the team came up with the story that we all felt that could work, so hence the sudden shift in story. It was collective decision between us and the channel and we decided that maybe this will help us drive the show better, which we are to see where it will go.
Your attempt to build on ratings by introducing the love angle between Sid and Ishani has met with a lukewarm response, are you planning to revert back to the original premise of the show?
So it was only last week that the attempt to radically change the story has taken place. So when you say “lukewarm response”, while the numbers are showing 0.9 or 0.8 TRP, there are two parameters by which a show is judged – “the time spent” is the amount of time a show is watched by a viewer and “the reach” and “the rating”. So while the ratings are not so high, with the shift towards the drama perspective, the time spent has gone from a 10 to a 12 minute, which is a 2-minute jump. It’s an indication to us that perhaps the route we’re taking and implementing since the last two weeks, could be on the right track. It’s too premature for us right now to take a decision to re-change it back to the hospital drama. Hopefully we’ll find a balance but the indicative time spent has shown that people have stuck on to the show longer than compared to earlier.
Questions as selected by individuals on Twitter
#Zoya – Why has DrSid’s character suddenly changd?in initial epis he was smart,intelligent,jugadu Dr, thn why is he ruined so badly now?Also plz clear the news is Sanjivani ending in dec or jan?if trp remains same at dis slot,can’t it be given new slot?
I don’t think Sid’s character has changed. Yes, it has evolved. He has gone through a gamut of emotions. We’ve opened his back story and understood who he is. That doesn’t take away the fact that he’s still isn’t a jugadu. We’ve not got any situations to show his jugadu-pana but people had a problem that he isn’t soft or empathetic anymore. He was doing that to hurt Dr Ishani but he was getting hurt himself. The last 2-3 episodes, I’ve been reading reviews from the people that we’ve got our Dr Sid back so I think that’s a matter of screenplay and story. I don’t think in the larger perspective the character has suddenly changed. Regarding the point of ‘Sanjivani’ going off-air – We’ve always been commissioned a six-month show, until the end of January 2020, as per contract. It was signed as a six-month show. So I’m hoping it will run until the end of January. The channel has a right to give us a notice. Currently, between the channel and us collectively are working together to make a difference because we know it’s a different show, we know it’s not a saas-bahu. Currently, the show is not going off-air, we haven’t got a notice. When we do get a notice, I’ll be the first one, so I request everyone not to count on rumours but await for my official tweet announcement when it does go off. I am not the kind of person that is going to keep quiet and not to tell you it’s not going off. Right now, just a rumours and I can’t keep repeating it again and again.
#Khushi – The first and the foremost question of mine is that why the character’s and storyline consistency is not maintained properly, the storyline is so messed up…What kinda love story is shown I don’t get it…Everything seems in a hurry…
Khushi I’m sorry you’ve felt that way. It has a lot of people Shipra, Romit, Mitali – the creative team at the channel. Lots! We’ve got about ten minds working on the show, so sometimes people like episodes sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately you’re amongst the few or the many who don’t like them. We working to better the show. We’re working to get to a point unanimously for people to like the show than not like the show. But the intent is not like you said to change characters or storyline. I think we’re organically taking it ahead with justifications. Hopefully in the coming episodes, you will see a clearer perspective.
#Shri – Can we have more suspense element in the show pls? Like Shas-Roshni(more hit n miss), Vardhan-Shas(more complicated n thrilling), Vardhan-Rahul (v still dunno what happened to that secret door)?? Such elements make us curious to know wat LL happen next!
Yes, we will have more suspense elements in the show. It’s actually coming up in the upcoming episodes in the next two weeks. By the way, Shashank-Roshni will move to the next level. Shashank will get to know who Roshni is very soon. The next two weeks, all your questions will be answered about Varhan-Shashank, Vardhan and Rahul and the secret door!
#EkraM – The writing is very primitive and inconsequential. Is it a consciously done?
I don’t think anyone consciously writes primitive and inconsequential writing. There are a bunch of writers who have done a lot of work, so let’s give them their respect and dignity. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. We are all in a line of trying to achieve and better things. Sometimes the better doesn’t work but that doesn’t mean the effort isn’t 100 per cent. There are a lot of human beings putting in a lot of blood and sweat. A lot of hope. I understand fans sometimes are let down, we apologise as makers for that. But I think to defend my writers being “primitive and inconsequential”, the writing is a collective call that is approved by many people including the network. So when it’s a failure, it’s a collective failure and when it’s a win, it’s a collective win. We are hoping we head to a collective win, if that doesn’t happen, we’ll apologise and try again next time.
#Gayatri – Why is Ishani’s past,germaphobia,her diagnostic genius&dream of becoming a good doctor in #Sanjivani being overlooked? Why aren’t original character traits which made us fall for #Sanjivani being shown despite fans’ repeated request for consistency.
Actually this is all coming up BUT we cannot pack in everything so much. There’s a Shashank-Vardhan, there’s a Shashank-Juhi, there’s a Vardhan-Anjali, there are cases that had to be compromised, there is Sid and Ishani, there’s Shashank-Roshni, there’s a lot! There are so many things that are coming in. We’re trying to make one track work. However, unfortunately, the viewers are scattered – Somebody likes Ishani, somebody likes Sid, somebody like Shashank-Juhi. One can’t please everyone but yes Ishani’s past, what really happened with Ishani’s parents, is a part of a larger story, which we hopefully intend to reveal and hopefully will have episodes to reveal that if the show stays. Let’s now at least concentrate on the story we have and let’s try make that work instead of jumping again and trying to change it to something. I don’t think changing it again and again is really going to help. Let’s make the best version of what we have.
Thank you for all your criticism. We take it really well. I will share all your points from this with my writers again and let’s hope that next time around, we get questions we can build further. Thank you again.
BizAsiaLive.com thanks Siddharth P Malhotra for his time for this fan’s interaction. ‘Sanjivani’ is broadcast on Star Plus, weekdays at 19:00 (UK) and 19:30 (India).