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Quality of music videos was a major challenge for us, says Ashwinikumar Patil, 9X Jhakaas

The Marathi music channel has completed five years in the space. BestMediaInfo spoke to its programming head, Ashwinikumar Patil, to know about the channel and its journey ahead

Quality of music videos was a major challenge for us, says Ashwinikumar Patil, 9X Jhakaas

The Marathi music channel has completed five years in the space. BestMediaInfo spoke to its programming head, Ashwinikumar Patil, to know about the channel and its journey ahead

Raushni Bhagia | Mumbai | November 21, 2016

Ashwinikumar Patil Ashwinikumar Patil

Completing five years as the only consistent player in the Marathi music genre, 9X Jhakaas recently hopped on to the social media band wagon in a big way. Launching its recent request show based completely on the social media platform, the channel has shown immense confidence in the consumption of content among the youth.

9X Jhakaas garnered an average of 2.629 million Impressions over the last four weeks (Week 42 to Week 45, 2016) in Maharashtra and Goa Urban. The viewership of the channel during the same four weeks in 2015 (42-45) was 2.227 million Impressions, which shows an 18 per cent growth in viewership in the last one year.

BestMediaInfo spoke to Ashwinikumar Patil, Programming Head, 9X Jhakaas to know about the channel’s five-year journey. Talking about the initial days, Patil said, “The Marathi movie space changed when Shwaas went to Oscars. That movie was the game changer in the industry. The distribution, marketing and production were then being looked at in a serious manner by some of the major players. That gave scope to the Marathi music as well.”

The channel was launched on October 31, 2011 and it faced a strange problem of not being able to get good quality content. Before Jhakaas, there wasn’t really a music destination that the audience could go to for enjoying Marathi music at any time of the day. Neither was there a radio channel dedicated to Marathi music, nor a television channel. Patil explained, “We went off with the channel to resolve this accessibility issue, but one of the major challenges that we faced were the quality of videos. On 9X Jhakaas, it was not only about the quality of songs and music, it was also about the look. It was about what kind of music people like to ‘watch’. To change that was a big challenge because then production cost, actors and everything had to be upgraded.”

It is true and a lot of its onus was on the fact that Marathi movie space had not really had good looking and charming boys as actors. If one closely watched Marathi films, the only superstars in Marathi cinema were the comedians -- be it Dada Kondke, Ashok Saraf, Lakshmikant Berde -- and hence the songs also had a comedy twist. Even romantic songs had a comedy angle. Hence, the visuals of the songs were not very appreciative and people probably didn’t want to watch them.

Patil continued, “Then, with Jhakaas, we decided to set an example of an ‘x’ standard of quality was required to be on air and I am really happy that the industry took it in a positive way and put in more efforts. It was difficult for the producers to put in more money in music of the movie but they did it. Ours is a hand in hand co-ordination with the industry. The channel’s basic success, we consider, is the upgrade in the quality of Marathi music videos.”

The channel was launched with the two Marathi animated characters Chochya -- a curious parrot who voices his opinions on social issues -- and Surmai -- a lavani dancer fish that gives you the gossip of the day. Other than these specialised characters the network’s brand ambassadors Bade Chhote were extended to speak in Marathi and crack newer jokes for the Marathi heartland.

Meanwhile, the Marathi movie space grew both in terms of numbers and quality with some masterpieces like Natsamrat, Katyar Kaljat Ghusali, Sairat and Fandry. Patil however feels that while the growth is encouraging, it has its own challenges. “The upping of movie content is helping, yes, but it is also pushing the expectation bar up for other content in the industry. For us, as we are just curating content, it is difficult for us to keep getting the best kind of content consistently. There can be one or two Sairats, or Katyar Kaljat Ghusli or Natarang, movies with best music. But the rest of the year too, we have to fetch content that will suit the audience expectations. But we keep in close contact with the industry to discuss audience expectations and work out better content for the same.”

The channel recently launched a show called Wajwa Ki, based on requests made by the audience through social media. Is the younger audience rally consuming so much of Marathi music? Patil confidently said yes! “The younger generation is looking at Marathi music closely, yes. There is an overlap with Hindi, but Maharashtra is beyond Mumbai and Pune and the youth in the other pockets are very much aware and attracted to Marathi music and movies -- that is the reason why Marathi movies are doing much better. It has been seen over the years, how when the music is good, the movie does better. The consumption of Marathi music is going up in the online space as well and that is a testimony of the younger generation affinity to the content.”

In the last one week for the show, the songs requested are of a wide variety. There are requests for Sairat songs, to the Mauli song from Lai Bhari to the Natrang songs to the original single song done by Adarsh Shinde -- Kata Kirr.

With so much at the viewership end, the channel has also seen about an 18 per cent year-on-year growth in advertising monies too. Patil added, “Our TG is youth and the advertisers get good hit on their TG through Jhakaas. The interesting part is that the national channels are more interested in it and that is very encouraging for us.”

The channel also has a lot of brand integration options too, like HUL partnership for the reality show Jhakaas Heroine and then Music Yatra -- a ground show -- that has a lot of brand partnerships. This however is more about film exposure business, which is a major revenue source for the channel.

There are gossip shows, artist specials, countdowns, music launches. Celebrity birthday celebrations are part of the channel’s content. For the celebrity birthdays, the channel takes them to the orphanages or old age homes and other such places to pay their due to the society.

At the end of the conversation, Patil talks about competition in the television space and said, “The competition has increased and will keep increasing but the winner here is the audience, as all the channels are trying to be best and working harder to bring out the best.”

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