Broadcasting network Discovery Communications’ new channel Discovery Jeet will go on air on February 12 with eight shows, including Swami Ramdev: Ek Sangharsh, about the yoga teacher and businessman, a historical programme based on the battle of Saragahri, and a comedy reality series.
The Hindi general entertainment channel was launched in Mumbai on Tuesday on the promise that it will provide “mass entertainment with a purpose”. Karan Bajaj, the Senior Vice President and General Manager, South Asia, Discovery Communications India, said, “There is a lot of noise on television nowadays. The question is, how do we start a channel and do it as Discovery. The question is whether we can entertain at a large scale and yet have seeds of inspiration. So we tried to understand the dynamics of the audience. We found out that there was this drive and passion in people to become something in this new India. The idea of Jeet was to show the stories of underdogs who have won, and to show that it was possible.”
Discovery Jeet will be available on direct to home and cable platforms in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, and the streaming service Netflix.
Among the actors who were present at the event was Kranti Prakash Jha (MS Dhoni The Untold Story, Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela), who plays Ramdev in the biographical series. National Film award-winning child actor Naman Jain will play the younger Ramdev. “I met Baba Ramdev ji before I started the show and he made me take two tests,” Jha revealed. “One was a test of my opinions and views and the other was a test of my efforts. I got seven on ten for the first test and nine for the second test.”
Popular television actor Ram Kapoor (Bade Achhe Lagte Hain) will star in the comedy reality show Comedy High School as a principal. The cast includes Gopal Dutt, Paritosh Tripathi, Krishna Bhatt, Jasmeet Bhatia and Deepak Dutta.
21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897 is based on the 1897 Battle of Saragarhi, and will be headlined by television actor Mohit Raina, who plays Havildar Ishar Singh. Led by Singh, 21 Sikh soldiers, who were members of the British Indian Army, stood their ground during an attack by 10,000 Afghan tribesmen in the North-West Frontier Province. The show will also star Mukul Dev.
The show will beat at least three movies based on the incident, including Akshay Kumar’s Kesari. “Everyone has their own vision,” Raina said at the event. “Films will show their vision in two or two-and-a-half hours. But our vision will be played out over 65 episodes. The storytelling is going to be different.”
Shows such as 21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897 extend the Discovery network’s emphasis on dramatising real-life incidents, said Discovery Jeet channel head Sameer Rao. “Everything becomes a little more cinematic in what you will see in the channel and we hope that is one thing that differentiates us,” Rao said. “Coming from the Discovery heritage, we tried to keep everything real. All of our storytelling is either based on real incidents or real characters. Even if it is pure fiction, it has an element of realism into it.”
Also based on a real character is Mere Papa Hero Hiralal, in which an auto-rickshaw driver (Sarwar Ahuja) goes to great lengths to help his ailing daughter (Riva Arora).
The other shows include the music-based drama Gabru, The X-Files-inspired Anjaan: Special Crimes Unit, and Khan No 1, a police drama starring Rajesh Sharma.
Sunny Leone will be hosting Man Vs Wild With Sunny Leone, an Indian version of Bear Grylls’s Man Vs Wild. “I could just be myself and have fun, while also doing a lot of work,” Leone said at the event. “He [Bear Grylls] was so serious in his show. But I just got to be myself and not take life so seriously, and also have fun with the episodes that we shot.”
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