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For Generation Xxx

Now, an attempt to launch a late-night adult channel, in Hindi

For Generation Xxx
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

INDIAN television has come of age. Now it's Plus 21. Yes, that's the name of the first-ever Indian adult channel. Sceptical? The channel, which is being launched by Chandigarh-based Global Television on July 1, has already begun beaming its test signals via the Russian satellite Gorizont: the clip of a gangrape scene from a B-grade Hindi film.

Adult signals indeed. Apt for a channel that aims to take television viewing from "the lounge into the bedroom". Between 10 pm and 2 am. In Hindi. For an audience over the age of 21. "And not 18 because the marriageable age in India is about 21 and we don't want to create any controversy," observes the channel's CEO Suresh Kumar.

But controversy there might be. What with an array of "adult" comedies, dramas and soap operas on Plus 21's programme schedule. An epic mega-serial, Kamasutra, based on Vatsyayan's original work, to be stretched up to 200 episodes depending on the viewer response. Director Pawan Verma's serial—Ek Aur Silsila—about a wife who loses her husband to the other woman because "she does not satisfy all her man's needs." Abhinetri, directed by B.R. Ishara, to serialise true stories about the casting couch. Bhog Se Yog Tak, a series of adult stories from ancient Jain literature. And Rahul Rawail's raunchy comedy, Brothel.

"The language in these serials will be hard-hitting and real. The treatment, adult. Nudity only when it comes naturally to the story line and is deemed necessary," reveals Kumar. The channel will reveal the rest.

Interestingly, the fare will also include sex education chat shows like Kaam Siksha. Even more interestingly, the chat show will have 18-minute dramatisations of a sexual problem and only five minutes of panel discussion on it. One of the first episodes, Kumar says, deals with the problem of a young engaged couple unable to enjoy sex because they choose a sleazy hotel as a venue. "The programme will inform people about how atmosphere affects sexual performance," explains Kumar.

But it won't be sex all the way. Other "mature" subjects will be tackled every now and then. Slated for production are serials on the suffering of children who hail from divorced homes, as also the pathos of the old parents forgotten by their children. Negotiations are on for the rights to serialise an Amrita Pritam novel. And a serial portraying the pain of the Sikh community during the Hindu-Sikh riots is in the making.

"The idea is to provide an entertainment channel for people who are not children, nor teenagers, and are sick of watching sugar-coated serials like Tara. There's a big audience in it," says Global Television's General Manager Ravi Dar. And one that seems to be attracting quite a few advertisers. Liquor, lingerie, herbal aphrodisiacs and cigarette companies, claims Dar, have already assured advertisement. "Later, we could further enhance revenues by making it a pay channel. People will pay once they get hooked to Plus 21," Kumar offers.

Not all share Kumar's enthusiasm. Certainly not Rakesh Datta, general secretary of the Cable Network Association (India). Pointing out that bigwigs like BiTV and ATN have had a tough time surviving, Datta says: "Attracting some initial response by claiming to be an adult channel won't help. Who are these people? What are their credentials? The channel business is no joke. Very few survive."

Others in the industry point out that the Cable Television Network Regulatory Act (CTNRA) and the "anticipated media uproar against obscenity" might prove hurdles for the channel. For instance, Plus 21 is to begin telecast at 10 pm whereas telecast timings for adult programmes according to the CTNRA programme code are between 11 pm and 6 am. Says managing director of YES Channel Vinay Kumar Jain: "Picked up by anti-obscenity activists or feminists, these little points could be a problem. The Regulatory Act, though, has little clout by itself because it has never been imposed strongly. So it won't be such a problem."

Moreover, as JAIN TV's programme director Shalini Dhanda observes, the audiences aren't as averse to the idea of watching adult movies or programmes as is sometimes alleged by the media. Claiming that the adult movie shown on JAIN channel every Saturday has 100 per cent viewer-ship, she claims: "Controversy or not, the audience knows what it wants."

So does Plus 21. And its promoters hope and pray that the knowledge will translate into mega bucks. 

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