Lalu Prasad launches India's 1st Bhojpuri TV channel

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New Delhi, Aug 10 (UNI) Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, a favourite with the 'aam junta' (common man) launched India's first Bhojpuri general entertainment channel that will go on air on the satellite airwaves from tomorrow.

It was endearing that the Railway Minister had come at the launch of 'Mahua TV', India's first dedicated Bhojpuri general entertainment channel, which would take people ''back to their roots'' by showcasing the greatness of a language and culture that has often been the butt of jokes in Hindi cinema and the urban landscape.

''It is heartening to see someone finally coming out with a channel that reminds one of his roots. Bhojpuri is such a sweet language. Unfortunately, however, in today's times, where speaking in English has become an in-thing, cultures and languages like Bhojpuri have become the butt of jokes,'' Mr Prasad, one of the ''true sons of the soil'' on the Indian political firmament said.

''An endeavour like Mahua TV is a commendable effort in the direction of revival of the language,'' the Railway Minister, known for his ''down-to-earth'' lifestyle and his ''matter-of-fact'' statements said at the star-studded launch, which boasted of the presence of a host of personalities from the world of cinema, televison and theatre.

Lending glitter to the occasion were film stars Manoj Bajpai, Bhagyasree and Mukesh Tiwari, television actors Shweta Tiwari, Rinku Ghosh, Divya Desai, Surendra Pal, Vishnu Sharma, filmmaker Prakash Jha, music director Aadesh Srivastava, lyricist Sameer and Bhojpuri cinema superstars Manoj Tiwari and Ravi Kissan.

A presentation by Mahua Media Pvt Limited, Mahua TV has been tailor-made to cater to the distinctive culture of Bhojpuri community and its diaspora.

Infact, Mahua TV has in its bouquet some of the biggest Bhojpuri blockbuster movies, daily soaps, song packages, food travelogue, religious discourses, morning shows, astro predictions and comprehensive news in Bhojpuri.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman of the MMPL P K Tewari said the launch of Mahua TV was aimed at fulfilling the need for Bhojpuri content, especially across the huge landscape in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh with its vast Bhojpuri speaking population.

''From our research and understanding of it, we learnt that there is an unmet demand for Bhojpuri content across the Bhojpuri Population, which led to the creation of Mahua TV.

''It is the first offering from our channel, as we intend to launch a bouquet of other channels like Bhojpuri News, Bhojpuri music and Bhojpuri film channels, shortly, to cover the entire gambit of offering for our viewers,'' Mr Tewari said.

According to a recent survey, an estimated 70 million people in Uttar Pradesh and an estimated 80 million people in Bihar speak Bhojpuri as their first or second language. Besides, there are six million Bhojpuri speaking people living outside the Bhojpuri heartlands of Bihar and Purvanchal in areas incliding Nepal, Mauritius, Surinam, Fiji, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Great Britain and the United States.

This makes the Bhojpuri speaking population in the world close to 150 million.

To ensure viewing of the new channel, the MMPL has spent around Rs 10 crore towards its marketing.

''The MMPL has a full-fledged set up of over 150 people working exclusively on the Mahua channel. Bhojpuri is currently a high growth regional market, with total regional markets accounting for over 24 per cent of the total television advertising pie. As a first move, Mahua TV will enjoy the advantages like advertising revenue and creating a strong brand image,'' Tewari added.

MMPL has roped in National award winning filmmaker Prakash Jha to produce a mega show 'Bahubali'.

A flagship show for the new channel, 'Bahubali' is a saga of two feuding families which has been shot and treated like a motion picture with a stellar cast, hitherto seen only in films. The show is designed to cater to the Bhojpuri audience as well as other urban audiences and will compete at prime time with other Hindi entertainment channels.

To begin with, the channel will have 10 hours of programming, including five half hours news segments, six daily soaps, two weekly shows and a movie each on weekdays and weekends. Some of the shows on the channel include women-oriented family soaps such as 'Chotki Dulhan' and 'Sato Vachanva Nibhaib Sajna' and other shows like 'Bahubali' and 'Balia Kranti 1942'.

Further, Mahua TV has a huge line up of hit Bhojpuri movies starring popular stars Ravi Kishan and Manoj Tiwari.

The target audience for the channel is the whole family, from kids to women and men.

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