It’s a fact now universally acknowledged. Music channels don’t play music. Viacom Inc.-owned VH1 has dived head-first into documentaries and paparazzi reportage, while MTV and Star TV owned-Channel V have contented themselves with repeated seasons of reality TV shows, among them Get Gorgeous and Dare 2 Date.
Channel V, however, has now decided to go one step further, making it near indistinguishable from the general entertainment channels that dominate our TV sets.
(from top) A still from ‘Roomies’; Most of Channel V’s new comedy is shot on location
“We’re launching our first fiction show, a weekly slice-of-life show tentatively called Roomies,” says channel head Prem Kamath. Due to launch in July, the show has been in production for the last three months.
“We’ve tried to do something different with the comedy show,” Kamath says. “There’s no laugh track, and the show has been planned as distinct seasons of 13 episodes each, with self-contained plots and a longer story arc across seasons.” Episodes are an hour long, most of the shooting has been done on location in south Mumbai (as opposed to sets), and the scripts are ready for a total of 26 episodes. The dialogues, which Kamath calls “natural”, are mostly in Hindi, peppered with about “10-15%” English.
The show, says Kamath, is similar in spirit to “New Age Hindi cinema” of the Anurag Kashyap and Dibankar Bannerjee kind, and takes inspiration from Western comedy serials such as The Office. Music will not be an important underlying theme.
The show chronicles the lives of five roommates, who’ve moved into a large south Mumbai house after the parents of one go abroad for an extended holiday. The characters are 17-20 years old, and while the show hopes to be distinctly Mumbai in flavour, they come from “across the country”, according to Kamath. The cast has no big names, and draws on actors who’ve either made appearances in Channel V’s reality shows, or had brief roles in Bollywood films.