Now, TV to bring spotlight back to men

Men 2
In Indian tellydom, male audiences have been a neglected lot. Primarily because mainstream shows with an overdose of reality TV, saas-bahu and social issue-based shows have been catering to women viewers who crave for drama and melodrama. However, with two new shows Men 2.0 on AXN and MF 101 on MTV the spotlight is likely to be back on men.

There are a number of lifestyle shows on air, including Men's HQ on NDTV Good Times and Tech Toyz on CNBC TV18. However, the new ones are out to explore the not-so-talked-about subjects like male grooming and fantasy. "Till a decade ago, even print media had largely ignored men's lifestyle. It was believed that this subject did not need any attention. But men's lifestyle cannot be sidelined in present times," says Rajeev Makhni, host of Gadget Guru on NDTV Good Times. Makhni's grouse is probably true as most generic lifestyle shows keep the topics related to men only as fillers.

Rohit Bhandari, senior vice-president, AXN, however, has a very good reason to launch a show like Men 2.0, that provides tips on all aspects of an urban male's life. "One has to understand that the spending power and disposable income of the urban 27-year-old male has increased.

Personally, I think Indian men need a crash course on lifestyle. That is the reason we need these male-oriented shows," he says.

Shows like Gadget Guru and Tech Toyz loosely fit in the 'men lifestyle show' tag because of their focus on gadgets and technology. But Men 2.0 and MF 101 give a complete idea about men's lifestyle. They talk about gadgets, luxury cars, grooming, nightlife, adventure sports and also reflect on relationships. Apart from these, the presence of Shibani Dandekar, co-anchor on Men 2.0, has an added advantage. She looks at everything with that critical eye offering a female perspective on the male coolness quotient.

In the race for higher TRP, each of these shows have tried to create their USP. Keith Sequeira, host of Men 2.0, says, "We try to make the show more fun. For example, when we talk about a new product, we don't use any jargon. Rather, we make it more situational and basically talk about how to use a product, say on a night out with your friends."

On MTV's MF 101, it's what the men dream of and the lifestyle choice that they make that gets importance. This reality show features four men in Bangkok who live life king-size, with pet limos, a huge mansion and an all women house staff. "The show is all about what men fantasise about bikes, cars, gadgets and a millionaire's lifestyle. Even though it's a reality show, it's all about men's lifestyle. It's not even remotely sensational," says Ankit Vengulekar, one of the men living in this house for five weeks.

Termed as men's lifestyle shows, do these programmes cater only to the alpha male? "Not at all. My show Men Can't Dance and Other Myths had 55 per cent female audience. There is a general curiosity about understanding a man's mind, Besides, men and women have similar interest in lifestyle issues," says Makhni. However, Vengulekar, who hosts Tech Toyz on CNBC TV18, differs. "My show has 80 per cent male viewership and even MF 101 is meant for men. Though women can tune into it to see four hot men," he says on a lighter vein.

Internationally this genre has achieved a lot of success, with shows like The Duke on AXN and South African show C.I.G.A.R.E grabbing high TRPs. Their Indian counterparts are yet to undergo the test. "Such shows work only when they don't fall in the trap of magazine concept. One has to constantly innovate and make it appealing," says Makhni.

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