still from 'Aakash Yodha'
It was with an aim to highlight its Discover India band
that the channel premiered Aakash Yodha, a documentary film
on military aviation, its technology and mystiques, at a special
screening at the NCPA, Mumbai, today. The show which celebrates
Indian Air Force Day (IAF) which falls tomorrow (8 october), will
be aired on 11 October. The IAF formally came into existence on
8 October 1932.
Range of shows
Discovery Communication India's marketing director Aditya Tripathi
says, "We have planned a number of shows on India for the Discover
India series. We believe that some of them are very interesting
and are bound to get the attention of viewers."
The shows lined up for the series include one on Sikhism and the
Sikh deity Gurunanak (around the time of his birth anniversary,
8 November), a show on the Buddha and one on the Patiala necklace
and its legacy. Besides there are some other cultural shows on the
anvil, Tripathi says.
show on celebrations with light
Surprisingly, the channel has planned nothing for Diwali (which
falls on 25 October). "But we do have a show on 'celebration
with light' around the world. This show will focus on celebrations
and fireworks in US, China and India among other countries."
The show will be featured in their Festival Special on 24 October.
According to Tripathi, Nefertiti, their last big show proved to
be very successful among viewers worldwide. "We know this from
the feedback we got, the viewership figures and fan mails. There
have been requests from viewers to rerun Nefertiti."
Coming up next on the lines of Nefertiti is a show on 14 December,
marking 100 years of flight since the Wright Brothers invented their
first aircraft, Kitty Hawk. The show is called A Celebration
Tripathi says, time and again, media research done in India has
been putting Discovery's India-specific shows on the most watched
slot among English channels. "Our Discover India series
has now remained the most watched shows for almost the past two
to three weeks," he explains, continuing, "Right now we
have it as a weekly block. But if we keep getting such encouraging
responses we could probably make it a daily half-hour block."
However, he says there is no concrete plan on that yet.
About gathering more viewership around the world, he says, "We
are constantly thinking of ideas, programming and marketing strategies
to keep up our popularity. Obviously, specific blocks like the Women's
Hour, Healthy Living and Late Night Discovery
are working too."
He says, "We are in the process of purchasing the rights of
various films in India. Aakash Yodha was bought similarly
from (husband-wife director duo Kunal) Verma and (Dipti) Bhalla."
He explains that Discovery had called on Indian directors to send
in applications for selling their films and received over 2,000
responses. "We pick the cream after careful viewing of various
films," he says.
An unusual approach
Aakash Yodha is a 48-minute film that captures the diverse
roles played by the air force during war and peace - including warfare,
transportation of troops, medical supplies, defence operations,
training activities and testing infrastructures. Shot in the Kargil,
Siachen and the southern most corner of Nicobar Island (the Indira
Point) after the war, the show explains military details and strategies
But it treats the subject a trifle unusually - instead of recounting
the actual operation during war, Aakash Yodha takes us on
a journey featuring the various aircrafts used in operations - like
the Russian built AN-32 and IL-76 and the MIG 21 among others. Everything
from the usefulness of a certain aircraft for a specific function,
to the science behind the metal and shape given for various aircrafts
is discussed in the feature.
According to director Bhalla, "This film takes a wider canvas
while describing the military activities. It has a panoramic approach
to give a complete feel. We have done everything to communicate
exactly what we experienced during the filming."
Partner Verma says, it took six months "and a little more"
to shoot Aakash Yodha. Recounting the experience of staying
with IAF for so long, and fixing cameras on the underbelly of Jaguars
to get aerial footage, Verma says, "We hardly faced any difficulty
during the shooting. Working with IAF was so exhilarating that while
there were some niggling problems, there was none that seemed important."