In its drive to redefine itself in response to the disrupting consumer environment,  Shemaroo launches ‘Bhakti Studio’ India’s first platform to nurture talent in the Devotional music space, which is unarguably an integral part of Indian heritage and culture. The show will witness eminent Industry maestros -Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalota, Suresh Wadekar and Saroj khan who will be mentoring budding talents. Here’s more on the show as loudest.in engages into an interesting conversation with the maestros Anup Jalota, Suresh Wadekar and the Shemaroo Heads Hiren Gada CEO & Kranti Gada COO  Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd. on the occasion of the launch.

Hiren Gada talking about the inception of the show said, “We wanted to create a new and a fresh experience for the audiences to explore devotional music as a genre and so came the thought to present new talents to showcase it. We wanted to create a platform where content and talent can be discovered because there is a huge gap in the devotional space which has few big stars at present but faces a  kind of a vacuum for the future generation. Eventually, we decided to get on board the maestros like Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalota, Suresh Walker, and Saroj Khanji to be the mentors on the show, who share the same thought as we do.”

Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalota talking on the initiative said, “Shemaroo Bhakti studio is a great initiative to bring forth the devotional music on mainstream media and to the masses, and will provide opportunities to young talents to explore their creativity on the show. The show will be a way ahead to bring forth the poetry of the saints like Meera, Kabir, Surdas as  audiences will see the performers singing  traditional compositions like Tulsidasji’s ‘ Thumak Chalat Ram Chandra’  or Surdasji’s ‘Maiya Mori Mai Nahi Makhan Khayo’  or ‘Main Shyam Deewani’ which will bring the greatest saints of India and their poetry alive yet again. The shows will also give opportunities to youngsters to bring their own new lyrics and compositions and blend them with modern-day orchestration and sound.”

Excited about his association the mentor on the show Suresh Wadker said, “ The show is a great initiative by Shemaroo to give opportunities to the young talents. This show is a thoughtful amalgamation of literature and melody and is a platform to bring in fore the essence of bhakti to our younger generation about the bhakti era saints like who was Surdas, Kabir, Meera, Tulsidas. We will try to take portions from traditional bhakti literature like ‘Ram Charitmanas’ in a way to educate both the singers and the listeners with our age-old poetry which will be composed in modern style to render beautiful compositions.”

Wadekar talked about training the youngsters in devotional music by saying, “We are training many students in ‘Ajivasan’ in Indian classical music and devotional music and other techniques. Now with Bhakti studio and Anup Jalota associating we are taking it to the next level. We will take auditions of ‘Bhakti Studio’ in Ajivasan to select the best talent. We will listen to them and guide them to improve their skills and technique to present devotional music, and then we will record them to sing  both original and traditional compositions, which they will be presenting in Bhakti Studio.”

Mentor Saroj Khan said, “India is home to devotional music, and I am sure Shemaroo’s Bhakti Studio will give birth to many talented artists. It is very thoughtful of Shemaroo to launch a property that encourages young talent to perform and what is interesting is that this is devotional music with a twist of swag.”

Kranti COO Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd. throws light on the target audience by saying, “As an organization, we have been investing in the devotional genre through YouTube, social media and physical devices and we have a pretty thriving business but what we were doing was more or less in the traditional formats. So we thought of creating something to reach out to the younger audience on a mass level and also having mainstream media participating in this genre with compositions in the music and style they are already familiar with and will appeal them more.”

So how would be the selection process, Kranti adds,  “Initially, the core auditions will happen in Mumbai and aspiring singers can send their music online, out of which we will select 10 candidates after initial shortlisting, with whom we will create compositions and record them. Our mentors Anup Jalota, Suresh Wadekar, and Saroj Khan will guide them although the process on aspects of singing, about the compositions and presentation aspects and encourage youngsters to experiment with new compositions, new instruments and new touch to the devotional music and that’s why we called it ‘Bhakti with a Swag’. So this is a unique content which will cater to the Millenials and we are sure once they connect with it, they will live with it till they get old. So we are tapping a completely a different audience.”

The show will see multiple artists collaborating together across genres like Bhajan, Abhang Gurbani, Qawwali. Talking on the genres and duration of the show Hiren said, “We will have both popular and new artists performing like Sanjeevani who has sung many Kabir bhajans in a fusion way. So the whole idea is to keep experimenting while keeping the essence of Bhakti so it could be across languages, across genres, as we don’t want to box. We have not fixed any duration yet and want to go with the flow, initially, we will begin with once a week which will go on at least for a year.”

Kranti highlighted on two major components of the show saying, “One is the content and other is distribution. So there will be either new compositions or new takes on existing compositions and initially, we would go with the second as people are already familiar with the traditional compositions. Idea is to bring devotional to mainstream media, give singers a platform and get their new sensibilities and compositions in the devotional space.”

Shemaroo has offered premium content and services to customers in more than 30 countries, across several Indian languages. With the brand in existence for over five decades, Shemaroo happens to be a trusted partner to few of the biggest media platforms such as YouTube, Hotstar, Star Gold, Zee Cinema, Vodafone, Reliance Jio, Tata Sky, Apple iTunes, Etisalat.

So what’s the digital reach of the show Hiren said, “The show will be distributed across DTH Platforms like Tata sky, Videocon Dish along with our 50 YouTube channel which has around 3.5 million subscribers. We have a very good presence on social media like Facebook and Instagram where we will promote Bhakti Studio. We have Shemaroo Bhakti & ShemarooMe our digital platforms for digital distribution which are two large platforms which carry devotional content. ShemarooMe is already integrated with Vodafone ID, Fixigo and Dainik Bhasker and our target till March 2020 is to be integrated with 12-15 platforms globally.”

“Apart from that, we have our devotional content on all audio OTTs like Saavan, Gaana etc. We also have Radio Partnerships with Radio City & Red FM for on-air morning devotional slots across all stations for both and UFO is our partner for all marketing promotions for Bhakti studio. We also hope that once this becomes a brand we will have more of the mainstream media aligned to it,” added Hiren.

Shemaroo Entertainment hopes to monetize its vast devotional content library and has recently ventured into content-loaded-device space with three three-player variants — Bhagavad Gita, Bhajan Vani, and Ibaadat Quran Majeed, all being Bluetooth players pre-loaded with devotional songs and bhajans which a great move to have salience across age groups. With a diverse and growing collection of over 3700 titles.

Talking about the devotional content and digital devices Hiren said, “We have created around 6000 hours of devotional content out of which 3000 hours are of audio-visual content. We have also shot extensively devotional shrines to create documentaries. Our most unique device is the Bhagwat Gita which is in 3 languages, Hindi, Sanskrit and English and has 700+ verses and 18 chapters.  For the Hindi version, Suresh Wadker has rendered his voice for ‘Arjun’ while ‘Krishna’s has been rendered by Roop Kumar Rathod. Since Gita is about life and its various aspects, so we have curated content around them on many aspects of life like love, relationships, anger, desire, wherein each aspect takes the listener to a specific Shloka and that’s how we have created a fantastic user interface. While Bhajan Vani has 1000 ‘Artis’, ‘Mantras’, ‘Stotras’ and ‘Jaaps’ which have been curated singer as it has a playlist to include devotional artists like Anup Jalota, Anuradha Paudwal, Suresh Wadekar, Narendra Chanchal and likes. All devices are available on both online and offline stores like Archies, Amazon, etc.”

As per industry figures of online video audience in India  which stood at 250 million in March 2018,  and is expected to double in three years and triple in five years down the line, the massive growth certainly creates huge opportunities for companies like Shemaroo, which can sense the pulse of what the audience wants to consume.

Author

A Hindustani Classical Vocalist and a Musicologist. Pursuing Ph.D. in the same from Delhi University. Presently working with exchange 4media writing across domains ranging from Digital, Marketing, Advertising, Events, Music, Artforms, Artists and lots more... Getting better with time!

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