TLC gets Trinny & Susannah to make over India

MUMBAI: They have been making waves with their down under filmed fashion and style makeover show. As they have done in 12 other countries through adaptations of the programming format they share with global format major Zodiak Rights. Now British style gurus Trinny and Susannah are bringing their Makeover Mission series to Indian TV screens daily on Discovery Network’s lifestyle style TLC from 12 August at 9 p.m. 

Filmed and produced in India by Zodiak Media's Indian offshoot Sol Productions, Trinny & Susannah’s Makeover Mission India features the two British ladies, roaming the streets of Mumbai, selecting plain-Janes and Johns and whisking them away only to transform them into ultra chic ladies and debonair dudes. And not just that they even end up making them walk the ramp.

Trinny and Susannah will be at their funny best while dressing up Indian men and women

Explains Discovery Networks Asia Pacific, Sr. VP & GM, head of revenue, pan-regional ad sales & south asia, Rahul Johri: "We have done a lot of grooming shows over the past one and a half year and the reason behind this is that India is a young country which is oriented towards fashion. We have altered our international formats to suit Indian aspirations.”

That is indeed true: a few months ago it rolled out the Indian adaptation of What Not to Wear India (hosted by Soha Ali Khan and Aki Narula), and then the Ozzie edition of Trinny & Susannah’s makeover mission is airing on TLC these days.

For the record, Trinny & Susannah’s Makeover Mission India is an adaptation of the Norwegian format and it is pretty simple: both men and women with different shapes and sizes, fashion backgrounds are scouted by the two and given fashion and grooming advice in a very easy and fun manner. Together the hosts strive to bring a sense of individuality and confidence in them as they encourage and motivate them to accept their unique body shapes and sizes and feel good about themselves.

In all, the Indian series is slated to run over 16 episodes and will feature 16 participants being transformed into swans. 11 of these were picked up casually from the streets while five were selected through a promotional campaign run on-air and a stringent selection process through TLC’s Facebook community.

Each half-hour episode has been filmed both outdoors and indoors. For instance, in one of the episodes we will see the Trinny and Susannah walking down Mumbai’s iconic Marine Drive talking about fashion before they approach a couple sitting at the Pizza By the Bay and lastly, in the studio where they will go through the transformation. In Delhi, the studio location where filming took place was BKP Studio, while in Mumbai it was the Mehboob Studio. A high quality production, Trinny & Susannah’s Makeover Mission India required 70 production and technical crew, 13 cameras - two while scouting for the participants, four in the makeover studio and seven on the ramp. Direction is by Akshat Rao.

However one does wonder how much do Trinny and Susannah know about Indian body shapes and dressing styles? This is where the team of experts comes in. The duo has a professional makeover team - a hairdresser, a make-up artist, seamstresses and a photographer. The styling team is headed by the British stylist Annie Swain. The hair and make-up team is from the Mumbai-based image salon KromaKay.

The stylists have not restricted themselves to the international standards of dressing and will be dressing the participants in both western as well as Indian outfits. But it wasn’t an easy task for Trinny and Sussanah to make Indian women open up to them.

“Unlike other countries, Indian women are very conservative when it comes to opening up about the dressing styles. For example, if we asked one what they thought about an outfit, we would get answers in monosyllables. We had to probe them to know why they liked or disliked it,” narrates Sussanah.

The duo is known to get physical as well as times be rude and upfront about participant's dressing. However, many viewers internationally, have found this approach funny, which is why the format has travelled to so many countries. But from the promos, one can clearly see that there are going to be a lot of beeps in the Indian version. Maybe that’s because the channel has toned down the way the two will talk to and approach the participants.

“Of course, you won’t see a very brazen approach in the Indian version.. We had to be very careful while shooting and editing so that no one gets offended,” says SOL Production managing director Fazila Allana.

Discovery Networks' Rahul Johri is on a fashion programming binge on lifestyle channel TLC

On the other hand, Trinny goes on to explain that they feel that more than the people living in the metros (Mumbai and Delhi) it is the people in other smaller cities that are in desperate need of a makeover. She adds "Susannah and I are keen to spread our wings and work with people who have mind blocks about how they dress. The reason could be career, family, household duties etc that they give more importance to than what they wear and how they look."

The channel, which is happy to get the well-known stylists to India for the first time says it has no worries about marketing them and the show; the target audience knows them well enough. Says Discovery Networks Asia Pacific VP marketing Rajiv Bakshi: “We didn’t face any challenge on the marketing front. Actually, India is absolutely ready for a show like this.”

So, is the channel right in hoping that the names will get it more viewers? Those in the media don’t think so. According to Madison Media COO Dnyanada Chaudhari, “TLC is a niche lifestyle channel and has a certain loyal audience. I don’t think that bringing in international hosts will draw in many more eyeballs to the channel, even if the series is localised.”

Now, it’s over to Indian viewers to prove her wrong.

Trinny and Susannah's curriculum vitae

· The two fashion journalists have been working together for the past 17 years. They met at a party hosted by David Albert Charles Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley (the grandson of King George VI). But the stylists didn’t hit-it-off from the beginning.

· The pair came together in 1994 to write a weekly column Ready to wear for the Daily Telegraph for seven years. It was a hit among readers. But ventures such as a website named and a co-authored book Ready to wear which followed later failed to make an impact.

· In 2000, they were approached by BBC to host a show What Not to Wear. It ran for five years from 2001- 2005 reaching an audience of over 20 million women in 31 countries. In 2006 they moved to ITV where both made three original series: Undress, The Great British Body and Trinny & Susannah Meet. Their current TV show Trinny & Susannah - The Makeover Mission is aired in 12 countries around the world, generating an audience of 15 million viewers.

· The Trinny & Susannah - The Makeover Mission’s format which the stylists co-own with Zodiak Rights (London) which is the international distribution and rights exploitation arm of Zodiak Media. The rights were acquired in 2010 from Kanakna (part of ZMG).

· Fans can check more updates from the two Fashion journalists official website


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