Fremantle India is one of the largest and most successful creators, producers, and distributors of scripted and unscripted content in the world. Their popular non-fiction shows like Indian Idol and India’s Got Talent have empowered and created growth opportunities for talented individuals from the remotest towns of India. Fremantle has worked with all the major broadcasters in India, is now venturing into the digital space.
We at Medianews4U spoke to Aradhana Bhola, MD, Fremantle India, on the Reality format, their new ventures, and much more…
Fremantle is well known for its Reality Shows, how has the experience been in India, challenges, and competition?
It’s been an exciting and worthwhile journey. I vividly recollect the launch of Indian Idol in the country almost 16 years ago. It ushered in a whole new talent reality show dimension. And it makes us feel, both, proud and humble, that the audience continues to love brand Indian Idol even today as its twelfth season runs currently on air. This holds true for our other reality shows as well. For instance, India’s Got Talent is a unique show that embodies diversity and inclusivity in all its glory. At Fremantle, we consider it a privilege to bring the best of our country’s talent to the forefront, giving wings to the hopes and aspirations of over a billion people. Behind this endeavor of course are our ambitious and passionate teams across shows. Each new season is a challenge that we embrace open-heartedly as setting a higher bar always excites us.
The lockdown was a downer for the GEC as there was no fresh content, later in July shoots resumed, how did Reality shows get into the groove?
The pandemic has been a challenge at various levels and our shows are no exception. We put the safety of our people at the top of our goal list and then went about working through the rest. Being a global company we had certain advantages. There was know-how coming from other countries that were ahead of the curve that we were able to emulate for our shows. We’ve also been lucky to have like-minded partners with whom we worked collaboratively to find “safe” solutions. Be it mastering digital auditions, maintaining energy on the sets sans audience, or creating zones within a set to ensure the safety of the cast and crew, we worked through it all as we were committed to providing irresistible entertainment to the audience through our productions.
During the lockdown OTT saw a huge viewership; did Reality Shows see a dip in viewership? What were the audiences watching on GEC?
Actually, viewership has gone up. I suspect it is because of the common feedback we get from our audiences: entertainment shows provide much-needed relief in these unprecedented times. A welcome escape within the safety of their homes.
Indian Idol, a flagship show for Fremantle, is continuing with its shoot even during the second wave, what are the SOP’s in place for the Production Crew?
We continue to follow all the SOPs laid out by the government. We’ve included inputs from other Fremantle territories as well. We shoot in a bio-bubble with consistent testing, sanitization, checks, etc. And we’ve been lucky to have a supportive partner in Sony for Indian Idol.
As shoots were off during the lockdown, how did Fremantle ensure to keep its employees positive and what were the efforts taken?
People are at the heart of what we do. We worked actively to keep everyone healthy and happy. We started working remotely from an early stage in an effort to keep our people safe. We set up a core help at hand team that employees could call in case of any emergency or help required. We introduced daily all team calls in which we talked about everything but work. Work calls were scheduled separately with relevant team members. The all team call was about anything and everything: we discussed the curtains in the background of our videos, laughed over team member’s innovative home haircuts or styling, oohed and aahed over kids and pets gate crashing into our meeting, shared our feelings with each other. On the last Friday of every month, we continued with a “digital” edition of our Free Flowing Friday where we played games and made the most of fun activities from the safety of our respective homes. I’m a big believer in “laughter is the best medicine”. I would like to add the importance of family, be it our own or the larger Fremantle family that looked out for each other and continues to keep the positivity alive.
Have you thought of looking at other genres, OTT is huge, any plans to get onto the digital platform soon?
We already are part of the digital platform. Look out for our latest digital production: You VsYoutube, a quiz show coming soon on YouTube
Way forward in the new normal?
Safety remains a priority. There are some learning from the pandemic that I think are here to stay. For instance, digitization of certain fronts will continue, work-life will continue to have a remote element. Irresistible entertainment will continue to be in demand irrespective!