Sony Entertainment Television is confident of comedian Sunil Grover’s return to their flagship show, The Kapil Sharma Show (TKSS). However, media analysts are of the opinion that Grover’s long-term absence might heavily impact the show’s viewership, perception and, in turn, advertising revenues.
It must not be forgotten that TKSS is the costliest show on the channel right now and it brought the spotlight back on Sony after a long gap. The recent mid-air fiasco where the show’s protagonist Kapil Sharma abused his colleagues Grover and Chandan Prabhakar has cost Sharma much more than just a bad day with friends.
Grover, who plays two important characters in the comedy show which sports a gig in every episode, has been a very crucial and one of the most loved characters on the show. Grover’s Dr Mashoor Gulati avatar and his get-up as Rinku Bhabhi has been getting a lot of eyeballs and cheer from the viewers.
SET puts up a strong face
Grover has reportedly left the show and so has Prabhakar. Grover’s absence is still a mystery as nobody knows how long he will be away from TKSS. He has been performing in a couple of live events in the northern parts of the country. When asked about Grover’s return, Ashish Golwalkar, SVP and Senior Creative Director, Sony Entertainment Television, said, “We are very hopeful that Grover will return soon. It is a matter of a friendly feud between two friends and they will soon patch up.”
According to Golwalkar, the team hasn’t even calculated the possibility of Grover permanently going away from the show. “Sharma has already shot the episodes for the coming weekend. Once he returns from his outstation shoot for his film, he will resume shooting for the show. There is no change in the plan.”
The show was launched on Sony on April 23, 2016 and the contract was for one year. There are reports in the market which say that Sharma has been given a month’s time to bring back the team, else, his contract will not be renewed by Sony. Golwalkar has rubbished those reports, saying that the show is “very much with us”.
However, it is quite possible that Grover may decide to leave the show forever considering that he has kept mum on his plans to come back. If he quits the show, the damage to TKSS might be quite heavy and perhaps permanent.
Media analysts’ views
BestMediaInfo spoke to a few media planners and analysts to understand the repercussions. Dinesh Rathore, COO, Madison Media Omega, said, “Yes, it will surely hurt the show and hence, the channel. The decline of any programme is a combination of more than one thing. The show’s viewership had already started plateauing because even if the gigs are good, people get fatigued with the same type of format. All the negative buzz on social media has only hastened the process and people might start drifting away from the show.”
Another senior planner who didn’t want to be quoted said, “Forget what happened on social media, the absence of Dr Mashoor Gulati and Rinku Bhabhi is going to create a vacuum for the viewers. Even if we forget Sunil Grover, the viewers will not forget these two characters. The truth is that while Kapil had the name, the content stickiness was because of all the parts of his team which brought in the variety and Grover was a very important piece of the puzzle. A single man, Kapil, cannot run the whole show really. Grover was equally the star of the show.”
It is not only this time that Sharma has been in the news and social media for his behaviour. Stories of his arrogance and misbehaviour with the crew have been doing the rounds for a year now. His ugly spat with Colors, too, didn’t really go down well with a lot of people, both viewers and the industry. However, viewers still welcomed him on Sony in his second innings.
Shripad Kulkarni, MD, Vizeum, said, “It doesn’t matter much really. People watch what they like and whatever can entertain them. The social media buzz, positive or negative, is good for discussion purposes, but what entertains is what gets viewership, and whatever gets viewership, gets revenues.”
Rathore added, “It is perception that drives consumers and revenues both. If people will believe that TKSS still helps them laugh and lighten their mood, they will continue to watch.”
It is true that the actor-comedian’s behaviour has left a bad taste in the mouth of many. What really happens to the show is a wait and watch game, till Grover or Sharma open up and say what they are up to.