Television

Star gets going with The Weakest Link, opts for Neena Gupta as anchor

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Star India has finally found the desi answer to Anne Robinson, the tough-as-nails host of the popular game show The Weakest Link, which is to be launched in mid-January on Star Plus. And she is Neena Gupta, who has marked herself as an independent woman both in her personal and professional life.

Neena Gupta is Star India's answer to Anne Robinson (R)



Star opted for Gupta after considering the likes of celebrity journalist and writer Shobha De, actress-turned politician Shabana Azmi and Miss Universe turned actress Sushmita Sen.



India's numero uno Hindi entertainment channel recently signed a licensing agreement with BBC Worldwide for the format of - The Weakest Link (TWL) - the game show hugely popular in the UK as well as the US. TWL is expected to follow on the heels of earlier successful game shows on Star Plus such as the Aman Verma-anchored Khullja Sim Sim, and further buoy Star's position in the ratings charts.



Robinson, TWL's host, is known more for her snarls and insults aimed at guests - a woman who has no limits on how far she will go. The game show has already been cleared for an initial 52 week run in India, in two batches of 26 weeks each.The Indian version will be produced in Hindi by BBC Worldwide in association with Siddhartha 'Babu' Basu's Synergy Communications.



According to Star executive vice president and head, content & communication, Sameer Nair, the Indian TWL will be adapted to Indian sensitivities, will use a mixture of humour, wit and sarcasm and heavy duty quizzing and have an Indian dress code for its host.



Star had a hard time zooming in on a host. Several well known personalities were tried and tested, including Sushmita Sen. Sen did a pilot but was found too warm to host such a nasty show. Gupta is believed to have done a brilliant job in the pilot and Star plans to commence shooting shortly with her.

The show reportedly has a prize budget of Rs 250 million.



Whether viewers will take to it or not remains to be seen, but Nair is quite clear Star has made the right choice for the anchor.

"Neena's been around for a long time, she's known as the firebrand woman. She's costing us a good deal, but she's the ideal choice," says Nair. Nair says even Synergy, the production house that produced KBC for Star, is more than geared up to take on the challenge of TWL.





"The production house has scaled up substantially and is more than equipped to cater to Star India's programming requirements. It has emerged as a large production house," he says.

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