Television

[V] makes a play for the top with 'Popstars'

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Awesome. That about sums up the scale of the plans the Star Group has charted out to take Channel [V] to the top of the music heap. Star India, in partnership with the Times Group, today announced the launch of the glam-reality show [V] Popstars involving the search for and finally, presentation and promotion of, the first all-girls band in the Indipop market.

An indication of the importance that Star is giving to this initiative can be gauged by the fact that Star chairman James Murdoch was present in Mumbai for the launch announcement. Murdoch does appear to have a special interest in [V]'s fortunes so the channel's future moves should be worth watching.

The "talent search of epic proportions spanning the country", as Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea puts it, will select five girls from thousands of hopefuls from six cities, train and groom them for two months in Mumbai, before launching them with an album and a live stage performance. The series will go behind the scenes through various stages of the transition, the naming of the band, the glamour makeover to the creation of the album and the launch concert.



Sushma Reddy

Mukerjea, who has secured the tie-up with indiatimes.com for promotions and marketing, says [V] Popstars will be a fly on the wall docudrama that follows the lives of the five girls as they train and prepare for the big launch. A 14-episode series on Channel [V] will track each move. The Star network will simulcast the launch of [V] Popstars in mid-January 2002 on five of its channels (Star Plus, Star World, Star Movies, Star Gold and Channel [V]), has acquired the rights of this popular reality show from the UK based Sportsworld Media Group.

On the heels of the success of the Indian version of Who wants to be a millionaire? - Kaun Banega Crorepati? - Star is hoping to recreate the triumph of the reality series that hit a chord with viewers in UK, Australia and Canada where it has already been held. The channel, which has been unable to match the success of flagship channel Star Plus over its rivals, is now pulling all the stops to make [V] Popstars a big 'un.



Sandeep Chowta

Roped in is an impressive jury comprising singer Shubha Mudgal, designer Manish Malhotra and composer Sandeep Chowta. Also on the jury is Channel [V] presenter Sushma Reddy. Celebrities like the musical troika of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, lyricist Javed Akhtar and composer duo Jatin Lalit will be on hand to back the jury up. Channel [V] has even convinced celebrity author-columnist Shobhaa De who will be in on the final selection.

Announcing the catchphrase of the show Kiska Band Bajega?, Murdoch said the six- month long drama would be stretched over the entire Star network and Bennett & Coleman concerns like Times Music, Planet M and indiatimes.com. "It's a first for Indian music television, and I doubt any other alliance could have pulled it off," he remarked.



Javed Akhtar

Bennett Coleman president Arun Arora, also present on the occasion, said that the launch of the show marks a moment of positive growth for Indian television, when the strength of individual talent will be given a voice with the backing of two vibrant media houses.

Responding to media queries, Star's senior V-P, head of content & communication Sameer Nair said that the selection of an all girls band this year would be followed with an all boys band next year. The following years will see the selection of mixed groups via Popstars.

In other countries, Popstars has been able to catapult the bands it promoted to the top of the chartbusters. Bardot in Australia, HearSay in the UK and Sugar Jones in Canada have all been Popstars products. The series is currently underway in the US.



Manish Malhotra

Photos courtesy - www.indiatimes.com, www.b4utv.com, www.evesindia.com

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