MUMBAI: In order to add variety and spice to its lineup, English movie channel HBO will air the show Mumbai Calling every Saturday at 8:30 pm from 9 November.
The seven-episode show deals with a call centre in Mumbai and looks at the business of outsourcing in a humorous manner. The show stars Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nitin Ganatra and Daisy Beaumont.
HBO South Asia country manager Shruti Bajpai says that the show will be easy for Indian viewers to relate to, is witty and well written. “Ganatra’s character is the whacky manager of the Tecknobable call center. Bhaskar’s character is a London born accountant who is sent to Mumbai to run the center. Beaumont, meanwhile, has been sent to streamline systems and operations. She is supposed to be here for only a short period but ends up staying longer. The interaction between the characters throws up a lot of laugh out loud humour."
HBO has launched a show every month this year, Bajpai adds. The fourth season of Entourage kicks off later this month. The HBO film Recount, which deals with the bungled 2000 election, airs tonight to coincide with the US Elections. Next month, the channel will air The Notorious Bettie Page.
Bajpai notes that one of its films that will air this month is A Mighty Heart, which was shot in Pune and stars Anjelina Jolie as Marianne Pearl whose husband Daniel Pearl was a journalist who was killed.
In terms of marketing Mumbai Calling, HBO is doing a campaign that involves a lexicology of the A-Z alphabet. So A is for Appu, B is for Bidu etc. Spots will air on channels as well as on radio. The radio spots will see an Indian call centre worker trying to show an Englishman how to pronounce certain Indian words. There will also be ads in newspapers and the campaign will be focussed on the Metros.
Advertisers on the show include Tata Sky, Mastercard, Samsung and Birla Sunlife. The show will also have English actors like Richard E Grant and Anthony Stewart Head making appearances. Indian actors like Rajesh Khera, Namit Das and Puja Sarup will also star.
Bajpai adds that what separates HBO is its varied offerings. “While blockbusters are our bread and butter we go beyond that. For instance we did an initiative HBO Makes A Difference. Here films that deal with important social and economic issues like Darfur Now and An inconvenient Truth aired. This year we created a family block on Sunday at 11 am. We also created Wicked Hour for late night action film buffs. To conclude the year, HBO will have a blockbuster marathon next month where the best and biggest films that we have aired will be on display like Ghost rider and Superman Returns.”
She adds that HBO as of now does not plan to launch an ad-free channel on digital platforms. “ Digital has to reach a critical mass where it makes business sense to do so. DTH platforms charge a carriage fee and we have to see what the gestation period is before we can make money.”
On the advertising front, Bajpai expects a 15 per cent growth this year.
6 months ago