Tie-ups between television channels and puja committees assure a bigger and better puja experience this year

Sudipta Dey
The gigantic idol, the frenzied zealots, a strong scent of incense sticks and flowers add to the sense of intoxication that Durga Puja brings with it. Pandal hopping with friends is a must-do for the puja, and being present at the most popular pandals is crucial to the celebration as it always makes for a good story to tell.
Following this simple principle, TV channels are also making their presence felt in puja pandals, documenting each celebration as well as adding to it. Most channels have tied up with puja pandals all over the city, as a marketing and promotional venture. Some make it their own puja, while others become a major attraction for the pandal hoppers.
Star Jalsha has tied up with the Deshapriyo Park Puja and is calling it Jalsha Pujo. “We wanted to build a brand. Deshapriya Park puja has been around for a long time, and we wanted to tie up with it and build on it further, so that the puja makes it on the list of all pandal hoppers,” says Yubaraj Bhattacharya, creative director, programming, Star Jalsha. It works as a cross promotion for both the parties, the channel gets to interact with their audience directly, and the mass audience gets to meet their favourite soap star.
While Star has its Jalsha Pujo, Zee Bangla will be celebrating the Mahapujo at Maddox Square and Chetla Agrani Club. “The main objective behind choosing these locations is that these Pujas would be attracting a lot of people from the city and outskirts over the festive week. The crowd that are expected at these venues predominantly consist our target audience. Therefore, the pujas are an excellent platform for us to interact with our audiences,” says Sujay Kutty, EVP and business head, Zee Bangla.
Though they are not bound by a written contract, Bhattacharya says that Star Jalsha is looking into a long term relationship with the puja commitee, with something new to offer every time. “The Deshapriyo Park Puja Committee has been extremely co-operative with us. They don’t have to worry about finances, since that has been taken care of by us. Compared to last year, we are better organised. We are trying to make this puja as comfortable as possible, so that people can visit, sit, chat as long as they want to,” says Bhattacharya. 
The channels have already started advertising their pujas on their channels but the real celebration starts from Mahalaya onwards. A series of events and activities are being lined up for the five-day festival. And most of them will be aired live from the pandals. “We do not have our own puja as such. But we have tied up with 20 pujas to carry out on-ground activities and shooting of live events that will be telecast during the five days of the puja. We have pujas like Sontoshpur Lake Pally, Dumdum Park Tarun Sangha, Ahiritola Sarbojonin, Behala Notun Dal, Kalighat 66 Pally, Paschim Putiari Pally Unnayan Samity to name a few,” informs the branding and marketing team of Rupashi Bangla.
At Maddox Square, other than the usual attraction, there are more this time. “At Maddox Square this year, we would host a Dhaaki Dhunuchi Competition, Painting Competition for children, Rockbazi where bands like Cactus and Bandage would be performing. Shindoor khela would also take place on Dashami. At Chetla Agrani Club we would be hosting similar kind of activities and in addition to that a Best Couple Competition and Shera Ranna Competition would also take place,” informs Kutty. 
If the competition is not what attracts you, the channels have more to please their loyal audience. “It is our puja, so the Jalsha family will definitely be there,” confirms Bhattacharya. Kutty also guarantees the presence of their Zee television stars at these puja pandals. “We will have Shindoor Khela Live on Dashami from Udita Complex where celebs like June Maliah, Aparajita Ghosh Das, Konineeca, Lajbonti and Sahana will be present for Shindoor Khela,” confirms Rupashi Bangla.  You might just be rubbing shoulders with your favourite stars.