06 March 2021 15:50



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The 9-episode show stars Sushmita Sen and Chandrachur Singh as they make their digital debut after a long hiatus 

How far will you go to protect your family? Find out on 19th June 2020 only on Disney+ Hotstar VIP 

Hotstar Specials in conjunction with RMF (Ram Madhvani Films) is set to launch Aarya – a story where organised crime is the daily family business and betrayal runs deep. The world of Hotstar Specials show Aarya starts with a loving wife & doting mother (Aarya), her reluctance to be involved in the illegal narcotics family business; whose life is suddenly turned upside down, her family is threatened and, in the quest to protect them she is forced to become the very person she always avoided. She realizes that to protect her family from criminals, she herself needs to become one!

Former Miss Universe and actor Sushmita Sen makes her digital debut as the protagonist in this titular show, after staying away from the spotlight for over a decade. Popular actor Chandrachur Singh also returns to the screen in this riveting story. The show also features an ensemble cast of talented actors Namit Das, Sikandar Kher, Jayant Kripalani, Sohaila Kapoor, Sugandha Garg, Maya Sareen, Vishwajeet Pradhan and Manish Chaudhary in pivotal roles. Co-produced by Endemol Shine, Aarya is an official adaptation of popular Dutch crime-drama Penoza.

Directors Ram Madhvani, Sandeep Modi and Vinod Rawat have shot the entire series in 360 degrees system with natural lighting that gives the show a real, believable look – a first for digital content. Writers Sandeep Srivastav and Anu Singh Choudhary have highlighted the dichotomy of familial relationships that’s riddled with betrayal and deceit. Shot amidst the opulence of Rajasthan, Aarya showcases a contemporary India with a strong take on women in power roles. Hotstar Specials presents Aarya is slated to release on 19th June 2020 only on Disney+ Hotstar VIP.

Ram Madhvani, Director, Co-creator and Co-producer RMF (Ram Madhvani Films) said, “The world of Aarya is a complex web of emotions, twisted family bonds and betrayal at the heart of it all. It’s a bold and strong narrative that takes it beyond the spectrum of a crime-drama. Every character has a purpose in Aarya’s journey as she goes from being a homemaker to a hardened criminal. I spent many years trying to build this world brick-by-brick but I didn’t do it alone - 588 others from the cast and crew have built this show from ground up! I am thankful to the team at Hotstar Specials who have helped us bring this vision of Aarya to life; and to the immense talents of both Sushmita Sen and Chandrachur Singh and to all our actors. It’s going to be an unpredictable but refreshing watch!”

Actor Sushmita Sen said, “Aarya represents strength, determination and above all vulnerability in a world full of crime, a world run by men. For me, personally, it is the story of family, betrayal and a mother who is willing to go to any length to protect her children. It took me a decade to find a role like this to sink into and I’m thrilled to be a part of this incredible story. I am thankful to Hotstar Specials, Ram Madhvani and his team for giving me the role of a lifetime!”

Chandrachur Singh, said, “Things heat up quite fast in Aarya as a web of lies and betrayal begins to unravel itself – almost like a butterfly effect. The beauty of digital content is that there is a brave new form of storytelling and I am beyond exhilarated to make my debut with this show. The level of tension and intensity fuelled by several plot twists, and a mystery at its very core will keep the viewers guessing.”


Born into an upper-class family in Rajasthan, Aarya (Sushmita Sen) is a doting wife to Tej (Chandrachur singh), an obedient daughter, a loving sister and a dedicated mother to three beautiful children. Her family owns one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies which is a front for an illegal drug ring that is run by Tej, Jawahar and Sangram - her brother. When she finds her husband getting sucked in too deep into the family business, she gives him an ultimatum to either leave the business or leave her & the children. Suddenly, Tej is mysteriously attacked, her family’s lives are threatened and this changes Aarya’s life forever. She now embarks upon a quest to protect her family from rivals, discovering dark secrets about her family and the business, while getting sucked deeper into the very world she wanted to leave.

A major shift has been in the strategy of how the brands are communicating with their audiences. We all have become more thoughtful and empathetic towards each other which reflects in our communication.” Said, Shradha Agarwal, COO, Grapes Digital Pvt. Ltd
Here is the complete Q&A with her….

How has been your journey in the communications industry ? Your key learnings?

I have been a part of the communications industry ever since I completed my post-graduation from MICA. Initially I was in events and then gradually moved to the digital industry. I have handled multiple roles in organisations like Deals and You, Airtel etc before joining Grapes. Today we all know communication is important and the medium comes later. Keeping this in mind, it was inevitable for us at Grapes to evolve and sooner the better as it was the need of the hour. We are a digital first communication agency. By that we mean that we help clients identify the communication and then the dissemination, now whether that is film, social, activation, influencer or PR. As the internet kept growing, the lines between online and offline blurred, that is when we realised that PR is again becoming an integral need in digital too and that’s when we started with the PR vertical in 2018. So, like I said above, one of the biggest learnings for me is, think communication first, medium is secondary.

How has Covid19 impacted the PR business? What are the opportunities that it has created for you?

Every crisis comes with an opportunity. While it’s inevitable to control clients from slashing their marketing spends, the areas that need immediate attention for any and every organization is, internal communications and crisis management. I strongly feel now is the time to act as strategists and consultants. We all are together facing the current pandemic situation and its impacting each one of us, professionally and personally. Communication has to grow multi-folds while setting the right expectations and assuring them of quality output.

These trying times have made each and every one realise the importance of internal and external communication and the need of all us being sensitive. Empathy, a trait that each of us need to adopt not only in our personal lives but in professional workings as well.

How important and crucial has communication become now in these unprecedented times?

The novel coronavirus has gone from an epidemic to now a global pandemic and effective communication plays a very important role in building a stronger connection, whether amongst us individuals or between brands and their audiences. The world has changed dramatically impacting almost every aspect of our lives, the way we communicate, the way we act or react to situations, down to any movement. A major shift has been in the strategy of how the brands are communicating with their audiences. We all have become more thoughtful and empathetic towards each other which reflects in our communication.
Due to a nationwide lockdown and organizations declaring work from home for an indefinite time, technology is the most important factor and is the only medium that is helping all of us stay connected. According to the report by ACT Fibernet, online streaming traffic sees 55% overall surge amid lockdown. People are investing more time online to check relevant content as per their interest. This is where communications come into the picture to reduce the stress level of their brands by creating content that will interest their target audience.

How do you see the post-COVID world to be?

The coronavirus has transformed the way we live, love, work, and do business. We all are missing our regular day to day life, going to work, meeting friends, eating out etc. Our life has narrowed down at being home either in front of our laptops or televisions with video and voice calls, webinars being adopted as the new style of working. Post-COVID I strongly feel we all will come out more sensitive and empathetic. Communications will have a new role to play with PR professional adopting the role of consultants and working on strategies that are more sensitive and empathetic in nature and will bounce back stronger. With the repositioning of businesses, strategies are bound to change with communications specialists ensuring and helping brands build.

PR is more of a strategic business function and not merely a support function. What are your thoughts on this?
Yes, I believe in this that PR is more of a strategic function and not merely a support function. The situation we are living in right now, the businesses will need to rejig the strategies and brand positioning and PR efforts have in the past and will continue to build credibility and trust for brands amongst their target audiences. We are storytellers and engage is conversations that narrate compelling stories thereby convincing the stakeholders to be the mediator and help our story reach the right target audiences. It is only when the authenticity, transparency and credibility is proved, we PR professionals are positioned as neutral and strategic leaders, That is the reason, after word of mouth publicity, public relations is considered as the most credible form of communications.

Today PR is seen as a business enabler and partner. Your thoughts?

Like, I mentioned in the start of the article, today PR plays a very important role in creating the right impact for both, your business and the brand. News consumption per person has increased drastically with internet being readily available. There are enough and increasingly more articles stating the pros and cons for the same. For eg brands like mini cooper are not only known for their business and brand PR, thought leadership but also for their marketing initiatives. We all love the brand for not just the product they bring to market but also their marketing initiatives. We applied the same to Manforce in India, and trust me it has worked wonders for its brand equity with increase in imagery scores.

Finally, how are communicators helping to curb fake news during COVID-19 pandemic?

Right now, the situation is very sensitive and given the uncertainty, rumours are bound to spread. With now everyone access to social media and digitization reaching the ground level, any news can get picked up and become viral. It is important to make use of verified communication channels to dispel any misleading information. We as professionals need to constantly monitor and be 100% sure of the source of the news, ensure credibility before sharing it with our clients. We keep our clients informed with daily news updates with regards to COVID as well as the industry norms. 

The team members are keeping themselves abreast of any development and are following authentic source of information such as WHO, Ministry of Health in order to mitigate the risk of misinformation and fake news in their client’s ecosystem. The authentic information shared with the client will help them to educate and inform their colleagues, partners and other stakeholder and by this we are creating an ecosystem of authentic news.


Thursday, 21 May 2020 00:00

Time to plan for the new Next

As things begin to open up and business leaders grapple with the new next, there are two questions arising. The first one is a basic one that's always been there - How do leaders cope up with the moving dynamics and hence re-skill, up-skill and come to speed with this changing world. Two, how to find ways to minimise the impact from the current crisis, quick enough, as Digital gets pushed to the centre, stronger powerful and changing us forever.

Irrespective of how the future shapes, this is the time to plan that mind-shift and bring it into action. Listing down some areas, many of which we may have already considered and are acting upon. They are simple yet powerful steps and as we begin to recover from the current COVID humanitarian situation; this short note below, hopefully provides direction helping us prepare for the bounce back and beyond.

1 About Action

Look back at the great ideas we all loved in the previous brainstorming meetings, those experimental projects and the we-could-try-these-too initiatives - they all need to see fruition. We need to get our top team to revisit, list and prioritise them. To bring them into action the moment we are back into action.

2 About Cohesion

Are all these half-through projects making a cohesive story? They ought to as this is the time to see them come together, get aligned with the macro goals of the Organisation. This will not be about that mammoth Digital Transformation story we had visualized once; but about making these smaller nuggets come together.

3 About Re-skilling

Any culture, environment will resist change, that we all know. Working with our Digital leaders and HR teams to identify what needs to change, the gaps in talent and then look at reskilling, realigning and listing the new training needs for the entire team. Consumers are going to change, their purchase insights, media consumption insights, social behaviour will undergo change.

4 About Success stories

Getting a team to share stories of other successful turnarounds is important. Look at China to see what shape brands are taking there. Watch consumerfacing companies or companies from Insurance, communication, media, entertainment, banking and consumer products who may be looking at the same future like yours. The entire world is learning 'work from home' dynamics and interacting with new technologies for the first time. How do these first-timers, this massive universe of newbies across generational cohorts make an impact on our future? Let’s start testing this now.

5 About Digital Every-Where

Digital is all people, all functions and no particular department. Each one has to embrace a new mindset and be accountable for their new set of KRA’s. Yes, new KRA’s. This becomes the time to set those new expectations because, when this COVID situation ends we need double the effort to build all back.

6 About Impact, Buffering and Mirroring

This is a model I use in my digital strategy workshops. Learning about possible impacts, getting a quick team to share new ways to deal with emerging technologies, from any field. We could be in healthcare, while a new retail technology at a far end, could signal an impact in our ‘area of ecosystem’ or for that matter open up a radical opportunity. How do you buffer for this threat and plan a new initiatives and subsequently mirror the environment? Let’s create teams that act as start-ups within our Organisation and push new ideas on the table.

Only time will tell how and when we are completely out of this, but we definitely know this is the time to get ready for the new next. A lot can be done and no better time than now.

Written by Rajeev Sharma, Founder, Awrizon - a performance driven Digital Consultancy.

Fever Network announces its next campaign ‘Digital Idol - A musical talent hunt’

Fever Network, the country’s leading radio network and house to the most popular radio stations Fever FM, Radio Nasha and Radio One is all set to go live with its next big property ‘Digital Idol’ - A Digital musical talent hunt show. After the success of the mega 100 Hours 100 Stars, Fever Network is back with a property to identify and give a platform to the eruption of talent on the digital ecosystem. The beauty of this property is that anyone can participate straight from the comfort of home without stepping out anywhere. The contest would be open to all age groups.

Digital Idol will give the listeners of Fever FM, Radio Nasha and Radio One a chance to become online sensations by unleashing their hidden singing talents.

The show will feature some of the prominent names from the music industry as celeb judges who will evaluate and groom the various contestants. The one of its kind, musical talent hunt promises to be packed with entertainment & will provide a platform for budding singers to come to the limelight and showcase their talent from different corners of India.

The campaign will go live on Fever FM, Radio Nasha and Radio One social handles. No other radio station in the country boasts of such a diversified portfolio of brands targeting the entire spectrum of listeners from Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X. Radio listeners can also tune into the Fever FM, Radio Nasha and Radio One radio frequencies to catch all the action on air.

RBL Bank’s Credit Card business to be significantly profitable despite COVID-19. Harjeet Toor, Head – Credit Cards Business for RBL Bank shares all you'd like to know about the economic and sociological ramification of this pandemic.

Here is the complete Q&A

How are you seeing spends being affected because of COVID?

We rank among the top 4 issuers on an average retail spend per card metric at almost Rs. 11,000 per month per card. Most of our peers have a significant corporate card portfolio with spends that are around 20-30% of their total spends which are part of the published spend numbers by RBI. We have chosen to focus only on retail cards.

In the month of April, because of the lockdown, we saw this decline by almost 60%, in line with what you saw in the rest of industry. However, since May 4 when lockdown started easing in some areas of the country we have seen these spends increase by almost 35% in the past week. We expect another large spike in spends the moment there is more easing in the top 10-15 cities which unfortunately are part of the red zone today.

Now to give you a flavor of where our customers spend on our card. Almost 75% of our card spends are towards grocery, fuel, utilities, telecom, wallet loading, health/insurance, food etc. which are very steady and resilient spend categories. The share of spends on our cards in areas which could see a prolonged COVID impact like entertainment, travel etc. are a very low proportion of our spends at about 6%. This has been on account of the type of co-brands we have chosen to be part of.

So when life starts returning to normal and movement begins across the country, we expect two trends to play out, first - spends on day to day expenses to return to pre-COVID levels and secondly, we see a rise in spend categories like lifestyle, ecommerce, fuel, food delivery etc. because of pent-up demand and also accelerated conversion from cash to card. The spend categories which would recover with a lag, as described above, in any case are a low proportion of the spends (only 6%).

What is the profile of the Bank’s card customers?

70% of our customers are salaried. In the balance self-employed segment, we have very stringent card on-boarding parameters. In fact because of this the difference in delinquency levels between salaried and self-employed is only 30-40 basis points in our portfolio.

82% of the customers have another credit card at the time of our card issuance. 95% of these customers have cards issued by the top 4 players in the industry. This therefore means our carded segment is quite similar to these players. The balance 18% who don’t have a card are credit tested customers.

I would also like to highlight here that our focus in the Bajaj Finance cobrand customer selection has largely been on their top tier EMI customers who already have a credit card with someone else. Bureau data which is periodically tracked and published, shows that customers with multiple cards have loss rates that are 50% of those where there is only a single card.

In terms of the age profile, 68% of our customers have an age greater than 30 years as against 60% for the industry. Higher age groups typically denote matured borrowers having more stability both in terms of work experience, lifestyle and financial prudence. Therefore as expected, we have observed that delinquency levels also decrease with age in our portfolio.

How is the quality of the portfolio when compared to other card issuers?

I mentioned above, the steps we have taken in building a favorable client mix while building our business over the last several years. This has resulted in a portfolio where delinquency levels are significantly lower than the industry. We also track the bureau data of our portfolio delinquency measured at a (90+ dpd rate) vs the industry regularly and the results show that our 90+ dpd levels are around 27% lower than the industry. You should remember that that the top 6 issuers (including us) account for 90% of the industry.

Similarly, our early vintage delinquencies which we measure 6 months from sourcing for 30 dpd again is 28% lower than the industry. All our customer acceptance scorecards are designed to keep delinquency rates lower than industry and are tweaked regularly.

This should help you get an understanding of the quality of our card portfolio. It is clearly better than the industry.

How do you see credit costs and profitability in the credit card business this year and next?

We have taken a very conservative view on credit costs and stress tested our portfolio severely for a COVID impact. Our estimate is that while our credit costs will increase, our profitability will be similar to FY20 levels and I will explain this in a little more detail

We expect our total revenues for FY21 to be higher year on year, despite a marginal dip in overall spends per card. A credit card breaks even on costs in 15-18 months. We had a net addition of more than 10 lakh cards in FY20. In FY21, we expect our net additions to be significantly lower.

Typically, when new additions as a proportion of the existing base reduces, operating margins improve sharply. This is on account of much larger card base generating revenue for the full year. Further, average advances for the year are expected to grow around 10 to 15% (vs 100% previous year).

There is significantly low upfront acquisition costs. Our card growth is expected to be significantly lower than the million cards in the previous year.

Majority of the costs are variable – costs related to spend promotion, rewards, service, technology etc. These automatically reduce during lockdown as well with spends and new acquisition.

As a result, our pre-provision operating income will actually be much higher in FY21 than last year. The increase in pre-provisioning operating profit will be able to absorb a significant part of the increase in credit costs we have estimated on account of COVID.

As we had been saying over the last few quarters, the cards business was significantly increasing its profitability in FY20 with every passing quarter and therefore it has entered FY21 on a much higher Return On Assets (ROA) trajectory than what we saw in FY20 on the whole. However, we have chosen to be conservative with respect to provisions for credit costs on account of COVID as a result of which the profitability in FY21 will be similar to FY20.

I will also want to add one last comment. We have built this business over the last 6 years to be among the market leaders and we look at this as an important cornerstone of the Bank. We have made enormous investments as we built this business in portfolio analytics, risk, collections etc. in anticipation of credit challenges in the market in the business lifecycle. We remain confident of the long term opportunity in this segment and if we see that the external credit environment is stable, we have the ability to ramp up business quickly. We don’t expect demand to be a challenge at all.

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