One of India’s first music channels, Channel [V], will no longer air music videos from July 1. “It’s been a gradual process over the past three years. Currently we broadcast Bollywood music in the afternoons. But July 1 onwards, we will stop airing music videos altogether,” says Prem Kamath, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Channel [V].
Three years ago, the channel made a conscious decision to play less music. From being a music channel that played English and Indian pop music, it became a platform for reality shows such as Dare 2 Date and Axe Ur Ex. The idea was to appeal to a wider audience. Music, which was then limited to Bollywood songs, was pushed to the afternoon slot. “Their decision to axe music altogether was long in the making, I wasn’t surprised by it at all,” says VJ Manish Anand, the last of the Channel [V] VJs. His last show, V Spot, went off air last week.
“The channel has always been a youth-based one and that will continue. But we need to keep in mind an entire bouquet of tastes. From a mainly urban audience we now have viewers from across the country,” explains Kamath. Channel [V] currently airs fiction series such as Dil, Dosti, Dance, Suvreen Guggal – Topper of the Year and Gumraah, and the plan is to increase the number of shows like these. The shows, finds Kamath, are extremely popular among 10-24 year-olds across the country. “Fiction gets the TRPs,” he adds, “Besides, we’re not interested in airing the same music that a dozen other channels are airing at the same time.”
How do the ‘youth’, for whom the channel is undergoing this image makeover, feel about this move? Don’t they miss the thrill of catching a new music video, or emulating VJs who were, once upon a time, the very epitome of cool?
“As long as they can maintain their ‘bloody cool’ image, it’s alright,” says 27 year-old Nupur Goyal, founder and editor of website Stylenugget (.com), referring to the channel’s tag line. “Since it’s going to be a youth-based channel, they might just manage to stay cool,” she adds. Goyal grew up watching VJs like Gaurav Kapoor, Yudi, Nauheed Cyrusi and Simpoo, and admits she will miss them. “Of course I’m going to miss them. Channel [V] will not be the same without the VJs,” she says.
Echoing her thought, Anand says, “You have no idea what it does to me. I have grown up aspiring to be part of a channel like Channel [V]. It’s the end of an era.” Anand joined the channel three years ago when they had already turned to reality TV. But now that it plans to carry 90 per cent fiction and just 10 per cent reality, he claims, “My role on Channel [V] will reduce drastically. I now plan to move to films.”
His next career move isn’t surprising, considering that is the route everyone from Purab Kohli to Rannvijay (MTV) and Ayushmaan Khurana (also MTV) have taken. A heartbroken Shruti Seth, former VJ with Channel [V] puts it best, “I’m glad I got a chance to be a VJ while they were still considered youth icons. Unfortunately people don’t seem to enjoy music anymore. If you don’t have taste I can’t feed you caviar.”