“I think the international Indian-South Asian diaspora is very fond of Bollywood and starve for it”: Zee Studios’ Shariq Patel

“I think the international Indian-South Asian diaspora is very fond of Bollywood and starve for it”: Zee Studios’ Shariq Patel

Zee Cine Awards 2024 will be special as SRK returns as showstopper after nine years.

Shariq Patel

Mumbai: Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, a powerhouse in India's media and entertainment, is set to host the 'Maruti Suzuki Arena Presents 22nd Zee Cine Awards 2024.’ Set against the backdrop of a triumphant 2023 for Indian cinema, the event promises to honor outstanding contributions to the industry.

Recently, stars like Alia Bhatt, along with Maruti Suzuki and ZEEL representatives, unveiled the chic trophy. The kickoff event featured actors sharing memories from past editions, with an exciting performance lineup announced for the much-anticipated on-ground event on 10 March.

Delving deeper, Indiantelevision.com caught up with Zee Studios chief business officer Shariq Patel to gain insights on Zee Cine Awards 2024 being special; impact that Zee Cine Awards aims to create in the world of Bollywood celebrations and more…

Edited Excerpts:

On Zee Cine Awards’ evolution over the years, and the 2024 edition particularly being special

What will make the 2024 edition special, is Shah Rukh Khan, as he is coming back to the Zee Cine Awards after nine years, he is the showstopper for us. This year, there is a certain amount of enthusiasm as cinema has bounced back, especially after how well the films like ‘Pathaan’, ‘Gadar 2’, ‘Jawan’, ‘Rocky Aur Raani Kii Prem Kahaani’ did last year. An entire boom happened at the box office; that’s why we are following the mantra of ‘Cinema Zindabaad’ this year for the award show. We took the line from the movie ‘Gadar’ and made it into ‘Cinema Zindabaad Tha, Hai Aur Rahega’. With two key people in the industry associated with the award show- Shah Rukh Khan coming on board and Bobby Deol, along with the Deol family, the main agenda is to put the spotlight on the fine talents of the industry. The excitement is a lot more, with movies like ‘12th Fail’, ‘Sam Bahadur’ and some great performances that were delivered. It’s a natural progression, and I think it’s interesting because the films were so loved in 2023, it has been a landmark year in terms of Box-Office collection. post covid, everyone thought that Box-Office was going to die, but the audience has come back saying ‘We Want Cinema’, especially with OTT emerging and everyone thinking that overall habits have changed, and people just prefer sitting at home. All these theories got de-bunked in 2023 much to the elation to all of us, who actually are involved in this field.

Are there any new or innovative award categories introduced for Zee Cine Awards 2024 to reflect the changing dynamics of Bollywood

No, the categories pretty much remain the same because we are not looking at adding anything which isn’t there, it is basically honouring excellence in all departments of Cinema. Everyone knows what those departments are, so we are not creating any new departments or awards. The idea is to honour thousands of people who give their blood, sweat and tears to come up with movies on a week-on-week basis, it’s like holding in high esteem for the best of the lot.

On some exciting details about the star-studded lineup and collaborations for Zee Cine Awards 2024, and in what ways do brands, sponsors, and celebrities benefit from their involvement in the event

I guess the brands look at sponsoring any event which gives a positive rub-off, the bigger the event, the greater the recall and obviously if the event is in line with what the brand stands for, there is a positive rub-off that association brings in, which has happened with Zee Cine Awards and other film awards. I believe even in other big events like IPL, or other sports properties, there is always an association benefit that brands get. I think if you talk to the Maruti Suzuki team or any other sponsors, it's easy for them to hire the same artist and do TVC or get their brand ambassadors to be a part of the event of the same scale. But shooting over one to two days and being posted or premiered later on might not have the same impact as much as an event of this kind and as it offers positive brand allure that rubs off so on the brand. Hence, they might choose this.  However, the on-ground event is on the 10 March, so the excitement will be there from today till its actual on-air date, which will probably be a week or so later. So, that 20-day effect of conversations around it, especially the trade media and consumers as such, will always be a positive benefit.

On the enduring impact that Zee Cine Awards aims to create in the world of Bollywood celebrations

I think it’s honouring the talent; we have been putting out a lot of our old winners and if you see some of those clips on our Instagram page, everyone from Hrithik’s debut till this year, it’s a platform which gives opportunities, and make known of the brand Zee actually is. There is an ingrained association that every big actor or artist has with Zee, and this award kind of solidifies it in a slightly different manner. All the big actors, directors, and technicians have at some point or the other won a Zee Cine Award over the last 22 years, which kind of deepens the association. You have heard how everyone talks about it and how there is a specific emotional connection with it, whether they have performed, won, or have been nominated. There is a bit of that family feeling that Zee brings, being the true homegrown brand.

On Zee Cine Awards catering to an international audience, and the efforts that are being made to showcase Indian cinema on a global platform

I believe that if you speak to Ashish Sehgal (chief growth officer- ad sales) or Ruchir Tiwari (chief cluster officer- Hindi movies), they will be able to provide you with a better understanding of that. I think the international Indian-South Asian diaspora is very fond of Bollywood and starve for it. Like how Ashish mentioned that we cater to 17 channels that are distributed all over the world, which automatically includes cinema. This creates a complete circle where you can watch a large number of movies on the Zee platform, and then see many artists performing and getting appreciated.

On Zee Cinema/Zee TV planning to elevate the viewer experience in 2024, navigating creative challenges to make award shows entertaining and engaging, and adapting to the digital transformation and industry trends for Zee Cine Awards

I believe that in order to keep the audience engaged for the expected three hours, they should get entertained; it is the same thing as watching a series, a film or a TV show. We are asking for the time of the audience, and the moment you are asking for their time, you need to make sure that it is engaging, there is entertainment happening, so either there is a big performance, a gag, some fun moment or felicitation of the award, it’s a mix and match of all. So, creatively delivering that is a challenge for us, for which we have teams. And the rest of it will be giving three to four thousand people who are on-ground, a grand experience to enjoy those particular four or five hours a day in the arena watching these actors perform and being present under the same roof as them.