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Sony Pix Story, Story of Pix Television, Work History of Sony Pix – Hollywood Channel India
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PIX Story

 

There is something we'd like to share with you, and it is this: Pix is not like other channels. It was born in a rather unusual way.

A Man comes calling

First, we will have to travel back to two years ago when one bright Monday morning one of the executives at Sony Television received a phone call.

On the other end of the line was a man (who till day has refused to name himself) who wanted to discuss the possibility of a tie-up with Sony. "An alliance between two great groups" was what he said. Intrigued by his words, the executive expressed interest and in return was treated to the strange though rather interesting background story of the Man's group.

The Man right off admitted to the intrigued executive that he was part of an ancient secret society called the "Keepers of the Vault" - one that since inception was dedicated to a singular mission:
Preserving the art of storytelling in human society and human affairs.

The exact words that the man narrated to the stunned executive follow:

"Many years ago - over a thousand years ago in fact - the founder of our society, then a young man, realized that the art of storytelling is a fundamental and necessary aspect of human life, as important, say, as romance, as necessary as the scientific spirit and as ancient as human expression itself."

"Foretelling that a day would come when this art would be threatened with extinction, the founder had initiated the Vault as a quasi-metaphysical library where all the stories of the world would be collected, chronicled and preserved. This library vast as it was, was designed to contain stories of every kind, of every hue and colour, and of every genre."

The Man didn't even take a breath, he just kept going on, "The founder had also rather astutely predicted that a day would come when the art of storytelling, the grand tradition, would be reduced to mere spectacle and superficiality."

"To quote him 'Society will suffer in a big way on such a day and once the art of storytelling decays, the very centre of society itself will become fragile, weak and possibly, even decadent. Sustenance of the spiritual kind will become harder, and one day, we will find ourselves standing at the brink of utter spiritual emptiness. Because of this, future generations will never know the power of this great art, human civilization would have lost one of its greatest treasures.'"

The Man sounded bothered for a moment "Can you imagine what a disaster that would be?'"

"Look around you," he continued, "Nature has turned against us. Identities are confused. People are unhappy, and technology has taken over....The signs are everywhere." And then he completed his point "The day has come when we must step up and do something. We must return to society that which belongs to it."

Throughout this rather lengthy story, the Sony executive on the other end of the line had gone through a wide range of emotions: from amusement to surprise to utter incredulousness, and finally, to interest. His cup of coffee was empty and he waved frantically to a passing peon to get him a fresh one. The peon looked the other way and dashed off before he got cornered.

The executive asked the Man on the phone what all this had to do with him and his company.

The Man replied "Well, in order to save the tradition of the story from extinction, the Society has decided to spread some of the stories which it has collected over the last 30 years or so, and it is in this regard that I would like to meet you."

He added, almost as an aside "By the way, this is not the first time that we would be doing this. To give you an example, about five hundred years ago, a producer of plays had come to the Society, expressing the same fears - that people had lost interest in the value of art, truth and storytelling. He needed a ‘real’ story, a good story, for his next production. His name, I think, was William something and well, the Society saw promise in him and in his commitment to great tales and helped him become who he did eventually become. More recently we'd contacted a film producer thinking he might need our help. I cannot tell you his name, but his movies have been well appreciated by many people and that includes certain Academies too."

"Fact is, the Society has stepped in time and again, over the last thousand years, doing what it can in the world to help preserve and stimulate the tradition of storytelling in our civilization...."

His voice turned to a whisper. "The Vault is very real you know."

The executive tried getting the exact address of the so called Vault out of the Man, but failed. All he was told was that it was a large space, somewhere in another city, where vast numbers of stories had been encrypted as data, in order to facilitate storage in large numbers. All the Man said was "Why don't you content yourself with the stories? The Vault does not belong to you or me, it belongs to humanity. And we cannot let it be opened up to this or any other generation. It exists, in a sense outside of time."

It started raining outside the Sony office, and for some reason the rain snapped the executive out of the Man's hypnotic tale - he again asked him what all this had to do with Sony Television.

"This time we want to tie up with a major TV network. According to our research, Sony is the major network that fits the bill. Would your people be interested?"

The Sony executive knew in his heart that the Man was telling the truth (sometimes you just know these things). Which probably explains why he almost fell out of his chair on hearing of the offer. Fortunately for him, he managed to regain his balance quickly enough to fix up a meeting with the Man. By the time he hung up the phone, his mind was racing in anticipation.

 
A channel is conceived

Pix is the result of an impassioned, overheated and very exciting meeting which took place the next day and didn't end until three days later. The “meeting of all meetings" was held in the Sony office next afternoon, and very soon, became the big event of the year.

It left a lasting impact on every staffer's mind, infusing everyone with energy and a sense of larger purpose - energy that would come in handy through the Financial Quarter as the channel was launched and all the necessary planning and work started piling up.

But back to the specifics of the meeting. Word had spread the moment the Man had entered - a strange, tall man dressed in flowing gray robes, with long white hair, a white flowing beard, and eyes that seemed to be set so deep inside his head that they were mere points on his face.

The meeting soon began and almost immediately people started poking in their noses on some pretext or the other to get a glimpse of the Man.

The Sony executives, at first completely awed by the Man’s almost holy appearance, soon caught themselves and started the dialogue. Primarily, they needed convincing.

"After all, a channel cannot be built on a notion," they said. The Man replied that it could. "But what is this Vault?" The Man replied that he had already told them. "And who was he anyway?" The Man replied that he was a seer, a keeper of traditions. "But where did he come from?" To this the Man simply smiled.

Words flew thick and fast as arguments were proposed and deposed. The Sony executives made presentations, thrashed out numbers, explained the logistics of running a channel to the Man. They kept asking questions.

Till, finally he gave the simplest of explanations as to why a channel like this would work.

"Good stories always sell."

"Because people always want to know what happened next. Because we are fundamentally a curious species." The moment he said this, without any warning, he suddenly got up and, whipping out a knife from his seemingly infinite robes, dived onto the table and with incredible agility held the gleaming knife two inches away from the face of the Sony executive sitting opposite him.

Everyone froze - there had been no time to react, that's how fast his actions had been. The Man held the knife close to the terrified executive's face and then pointing towards some bread lying on the table said "Here, this is for you. You will need it while applying butter."

The knife it turned out was no more than a butter knife.

The Man's face broke into a broad smile and they all laughed. The laughter lasted an entire five minutes, after which the Man said.

"The point is, as humans, we love drama. We love intrigue, stories, fiction. We love it when something strange happens - we love the thrill. We love to be challenged about our notions of things. We love it, yes, when the magical appears. And where will you find all this if not in a good story.”

“Do you really need a better logic for a channel?"

He was surely a mystic of some sort, as three days of intense discussion didn't faze him in the least. In fact he single-handedly handled the whole of Sony's team in a major negotiation that eventually led to a flurry of signatures, back-patting, and even a cake cutting ceremony. A delivery system for the stories was put in place, and the ancient Vault would now help create Sony's new TV channel.

Pix was born.

And the moment that was decided the Keeper of the Vault was gone.

(He would appear later - once ‘after’ a minor crisis, and once at the channel launch, refusing politely to be photographed - and after that, on and off, without warning, over the next two years. Somehow he seemed to know exactly when the channel needed his help - he would appear precisely when they did, help them out and vanish again, leaving no trace or contact details. Sometimes he would send an emissary, an equally mystical looking, though younger man, who never spoke. The people at Pix went nuts with curiosity, but there was nothing they could do. They didn't anyway want to risk angering the Society and as long as the channel was coming along well, what was there to complain about?)

 

After the Meeting

The day after the meeting finally ended saw the executives of the newly formed Pix diving headlong into their systems - creating business plans, budgets, hiring plans, plans, plans, plans and more plans. Their one goal was to turn the mysterious and legendary Vault into a thriving TV channel. To take those stories from the deep, dark recesses of the human spirit to the television screens of India - B&W or colour, cathode ray or plasma, big or small, new or second hand.

One hurdle remained though. There were those among the Sony TV corps who remained incredulous, who did not believe that such a mission could succeed.

"No one in India will be interested in a movie channel dedicated to only telling stories."

"What about the big films of the year? The big budget extravaganzas? That's what people want these days!"

"Don't we have enough movie channels already? BBO, Zip Studio, Stud Movies..."

"@#%! the story, where are the car chases and the babes?"

The executives of Pix knew from long experience that these fears were best sorted out quickly - or else they could turn from a small spark into a raging fire. Two months had gone by since the channel had been conceived formally and the issues were heating up. Many people in Sony still felt that this channel was an idea that wouldn’t survive the test of reality, and their voices were in danger of drowning out the channel itself.

And that’s when the second call came and saved them.

One morning the same Pix executive (who was always picking up calls that he had no business picking up) heard a voice on the other end of a telephone that said “We hear you’ve signed up with the Wizard.”

The executive stopped munching on his cheese chilly toast for long enough to realize he had no idea what this meant.

“Sorry?”

The voice at the other end said “We hear you’ve signed up with the person you all know as the Man, and we’d like to make you a counter offer.”

This time the executive passed the call on to the people in charge of Pix. As they later found out, the man who had called was representing an organisation called The Entertainers, an organisation devoted exclusively to what they referred to as "The Blockbuster". They claimed that the Keepers of the Vault were a bunch of crazies with outdated notions and vague dreams. They said the Keepers had no idea what the masses liked, and made strong claims about how they had their finger on the pulse of the masses. They even insinuated that their collection of stories was far better.

To cut a long story short, the Pix executives did meet The Entertainers. It was very hard at first for them to evaluate the sudden option being presented to them, all this ancient society business was still a little strange. But they did. And when they did it soon became clear that this organisation was more interested in the glitz and glamour aspect of storytelling; it simply didn't wield the same power over the human psyche as the Keepers did. They were as ancient, and in some ways equally powerful but their catalogue didn’t have the same depth, neither did their words and ideas. And they seemed far more hungry for money and power.

And when they asked for joint ownership of the new channel, the Pix executives knew they had made up their minds. Unfortunately, The Entertainers didn't take too well to the rejection - they left screaming revenge and dire consequences.

Interestingly, the Man himself didn’t call or show up even once during this brief phase - clearly, he wanted the Pix executives’ decision to be objective and unbiased. However, on the day they made up their minds, he turned up at the Pix office.

“Congratulations on your decision. We will make a great team."

And he left.

The result of this whole incident was that the detractors at Sony were silenced. Perhaps it was the fact that another organisation like the Keepers existed, something that lent credibility to the whole 'story outsourcing' process in the first place. Or perhaps it was the fact that Pix was being sought out by ancient rival organisations, wooed so to speak. Or perhaps it was just the fear of losing what now suddenly felt like a great opportunity. One way or the other no one was incredulous anymore and no one believed that such a mission could not succeed.

 

Two years later

Cut to two years of painstaking work later and Pix is up and running, beaming its incredible mix of stories across the vast land that is India. Pix is the storytelling experiment that we hope will challenge all doubts.

We hope that people will rediscover the power of film story through the films on Pix. We also hope it will change the way they think and make them rediscover the power of story.

After all haven't we been telling stories to each other since the dawn of mankind? Didn't cavemen gather around fires to tell stories of the hunt - perhaps about how Krogg was speared in the bum by his prankster brother Grogg? Haven't stories been passed down from one voice to another for tens of thousands of years? Haven't we had the theater as a medium of entertainment for 4 millennia, the printed book for 500 years, cinema itself for about 100 years - and broadcast television already (believe it or not) for about 60 years.

Pix is the natural descendant of all these great storytelling traditions. Which is why we don't just feature big movies, blockbusters and hits - we feature something much older yet more exciting - namely, stories. These stories may or may not date back to many years ago - but they definitely date back to something deeper: Our collective sub-conscious. For example:

 

A few such stories

Many years ago, two men decided to perform an extremely dangerous, courageous and rather illegal act. They decided to rob 25000 pounds worth of gold being transported by a train and to that end they schemed, plotted, planned and then... executed. Did they succeed, did they fail, or did it all go down in history as a classic and great train robbery?

Once, another time, also many years ago, a man passed away leaving little by way of his estate to his second wife and their three daughters. What followed was a story of coping with two things: a lack of fortune and the difficulty of finding a good match for the girls. What followed was also a story of sense and sensibility, of hardship and true love, and of happy endings.

We all know about the 60s in the USA - flower power, hippies, great music, and all those wild, mad things. Well, there is also a lesser known story - it tells of a pair of young men, two easy riders, who decided to use the climate of freedom for an exploratory ride through the USA.

And there's more. Sometimes, in these stories, ogres come crashing out of the dark night, sometimes, they are even friendly. Sometimes people are themselves, sometimes they are heroes, and sometimes they are simply troubled. Sometimes, in these stories, people find redemption, and at other times they simply pass away.

 

Just tune in

In these stories you will find a part of yourself and your life; you will find your dreams and your thoughts. You will find here every human emotion that has been recorded since the birth of time: greed, pride, revenge, victory, hate, fear, commitment, courage...and of course, love.

Think of Pix as a sky on whose palette great stories come and go like clouds. Every cloud is different and interesting in its own way and all you have to do is tune in and watch.

Sure, it was all created by a bunch of executives sitting around a table, writing presentations, cracking jokes and drinking endless cups of coffee. Sure, it was created to garner high TRPs and revenues.

But it was also created out of those stories that we tell each other - around campfires, at bars, in living rooms after dinner, in between classes, and when putting our children to sleep.

The stories we all love so much.

 

The Pix Good Story guarantee

"We at Pix solemnly undertake that every movie shown here features a good story well told. Whether or not our films are crammed with effects, stars and big budgets, we solemnly assure you that they will always contain a good story. May the story take precedence above all else."