Mumbai: IN10 Media Network’s infotainment channel EPIC started its journey in 2014 with content focusing on Indian history, folklore, and mythology. And since then the channel has continued to recognize the opportunity for differentiated content and experimented with it.
Despite endless challenges due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, EPIC unveiled its brand new look on 16 December. Along with a fresh look, feel and a new tagline- ‘Soch Se Aage’, the channel announced a fresh programming line-up with the aim to rebuild the Indian infotainment space. From ‘Lakshya 1971- a story of 1971 war’ to ‘Raja Rasoi Aur Anya Kahaniyaan’- a show about the history and flavors of regional Indian cuisine, the platform has brought a host of news shows for its audiences.
In this exclusive interview with Indiantelevision.com, the two production houses, Rangrez/FOODlooking founder Ashraf Abbas and MASS Studios creative director Richa Pant shared the process of producing content for EPIC, and how they overcame the challenges posed by the pandemic during the period. EPIC AVP – content and strategy Nisha Thakkar also joined the chat to share how the new content resonates with ‘Soch Se Aage’ philosophy.
On exploring new territories and producing infotainment content
Talking about her experience, MASS Studios creative director Richa Pant said that the year was a bit rocky for her. While the Delta wave left a devastating impact on people’s lives, Pant said she found consolation in work. “One of my highlights this year has been ‘Lakshya 1971: Vayu Sena Ke Veer Yoddha’. A documentary that showcases the stories of Air Force heroes and the seminal work they did in the 1971 war, a war that changed the face of the subcontinent,” she said while talking about her journey with EPIC.
After working with EPIC, she feels she has explored different territories as a professional with the variety of new content offered on the platform. “I have been making documentaries for the last decade and channels as well as audiences are constantly pushing you to innovate. With ‘Lakshya 1971’ we have delved into military history and this is a first for me as a Creative Director," she said.
On new shows and integrating the philosophy of ‘Soch Se Aage’
“To think of it, the legacy shows such as ‘Raja Rasoi Aur Anya Kahaniyaan’ and ‘Lost Recipes’ formats were themselves ‘Soch Se Aage’ when launched. ‘Raja Rasoi Aur Anya Kahaniyaan’ beautifully presents history & food together while ‘Lost Recipes’ is re-living the long-lost traditions and recipes which were once very popular,” explained Thakkar. “In the past, many documentaries & movies have been made on the 1971 War, but our show, ‘Lakshya 1971: Vayu Sena Ke Veer Yoddha’ is the first of its kind made from the perspective of IAF.”
On The Challenges & Limitations of Production During Pandemic
Shooting and producing new shows during the pandemic was challenging. While the whole entertainment industry bore the brunt, EPIC managed to present fresh content to its audience, but the production team did face various challenges and limitations while shooting. Abbas shared that the risk of getting a virus was high. “To ensure a smooth production, our idea was to identify and isolate the people who are at risk,” he said, "But it became difficult when the cast and crew got infected. But we had hired formal agencies to take regular temperature checks and comply with other safety measures. At the same time, we had to reduce the number of people on the set due to social distancing.
On What Kept Them Motivated to Produce Unique Content for Epic
“In times of distress it is always art that becomes the food for the soul, our passion for ‘Raja Rasoi aur Anya Kahaniyaan’, the beautiful history of food in our country, drove us to keep working,” said Abbas.
On the other hand, for Pant, it was her personal connection with the Defence and the freshness of ‘Lakshya 1971’ that kept her motivated throughout. She shared that her father was in the Army and she has done a large number of defense-related documentaries before. “This time I wanted to focus on the Air Force heroes. Many of them are in their eighties. It was the last chance to meet them and record their version of history. The team at EPIC heard my pitch and were excited too and backed me to the hilt to make this documentary,” she said.
On Efforts For Keeping The Realism Alive In Content
To make the shows look and feel compelling for the audience, they partnered with the Air Force. “We double-checked all our research with Air HQ. The film combined eyewitness accounts from our Air Force heroes, archive footage from that era, recreations at air bases, and 3D graphics to bring alive each of the battles we focussed on. We decided to keep the entire film black and white, with just the eyewitness accounts in colour and I think that worked very well,” she shared.
Abbas, who is the founder of Rangrez / Foodlooking, said that theirs is a very selective production house and therefore they try to always pick shows that we will enjoy working on.
On What Made The Channel Look For New Genres
The new content lineup is a mix of legacy shows which have new seasons of 'Raja Rasoi, Regiment Diaries' & 'Lost Recipes', and new shows like 'India Post - Dhaage Jo Desh Jode', 'Jugaad Mania', and 'The Homecoming - A Nation's fight for its people', shared Thakkar.
Thakkar noted that EPIC’s 'Soch Se Aage' journey has taken its first few steps with an oath to think beyond imagination and like it said "journey of a thousand miles begins with a step". Sharing what made the channel look for these genres, Thakkar said that EPIC has a loyal audience base. “Viewers strongly resonate with EPIC’s content. From Food & History genres, which have a loyal set of audience, we are now reaching out to a new set of audiences with genres like Travel & History, Rescue missions, Innovations, etc,” she said.
On Their Personal Favorite Shows On The Platform
Talking about his personal favorites, Abbas said that 'Raja Rasoi aur Anya Kahaniyaan', 'The Great Escape' and 'Adrishya' are really close to his heart.
Way back in Jan 2013, the EPIC channel signed it's very first production agreement with Rangrez and the show was, 'Raja Rasoi aur anya Kahaniyaan' so we go back a long way. 'Adrishya' followed soon after and we've then had a great journey together. 'Raja Rasoi with Ranveer Brar' and 'Tyohaar ki Thaali with Sakshi Tanwar' too were hugely memorable for us, he shared.
He also shared how after a point, the team felt exhausted as they covered all the significant food stories of India. But it is the EPIC’s dedication to always go “Soch Se Aage” that forced them to explore another dimension in the show. “We were forced to rethink the narrative and come up with the current season of 'Raja Rasoi aur Anya Kahaniyaan'...we really do think this is our best so far, it's poetic, has a greater emotional connect, and a lot more time with the Royal families,” he concluded.