Life Ok's big Bachelorette bet with Mallika

MUMBAI: The City of Lakes just got more famous. The popular tourist destination is where the opening episode of The Bachelorette India - Mere Khayalon Ki Mallika, Life OK’s brand new non-fiction series featuring Mallika Sherawat of Murder fame has been shot.

The 27-episode series, produced by SOL Productions, will see the actress hunt for the perfect mate, a la Rakhi Sawant and Rahul Mahajan in NDTV Imagine’s Swayamvar, from among 30 suitors, including an older man - all of whom will try every trick in the book to woo the sexy siren.

The battle to win Mallika’s heart starts on 7 October and while the channel hasn’t fixed a time slot, it will be a week day property.

The filming of this war of love has begun since mid-August. The entire maiden episode was shot at the Lake Palace in Udaipur and nine to ten episodes have already been canned at exotic locations including the Taj Mahal, Chittorgarh and Fatehgarh for the most part. Hosting the show will be the dashing and handsome Rohit Roy, who has played several roles in his career on camera and also behind it as a producer for shows on Zoom TV.  

Speaking about the new show, Life Ok general manager Ajit Thakur says: “We want to become more visible and talked about as a channel. I want people to know that we also have drama apart from Mahadev and Savdhan. We want to create buzz and hence, we’re coming out with The Bachelorette.”

Apparently, Mallika wasn’t the channel’s first choice and they had approached celebrities like Ekta Kapoor and Salman Khan but couldn’t get them on board.

So why her then? “We thought she would be very appropriate for this kind of a show. She has the spunk and has achieved a lot. She has come from a small town and is a role model for many girls. It is not easy what she has achieved in her life, and we wanted people to know her journey through this show," reasons show producer Fazila.

According to Thakur, there were two reasons. “Firstly, when you are doing a public wedding, desirability is very important. So it had to be a very desirable male or female character, and she fits in perfectly. And of course, all men would like her to be a part of their life,” he explains. Apart from her desirability quotient and star value, Life OK also wanted to showcase her epic journey.

Says show director Rishi Tyagi excitedly: "There is nothing much to direct when it comes to reality shows. For me, it’s an exciting and challenging task to direct Bachelorette because it’s difficult to bring realism in such a show.”

Indeed, the channel is betting big on its upcoming series and despite Mallika’s presence, wants it to be a family oriented one. Thakur feels the series will definitely inspire young men and women and create buzz for the channel. And so, a lot is being invested in the series.

“By far, it is the most expensive show for the channel”, says Life OK marketing head Pratik Seal, adding that the entire cost of the show including setup, but excluding marketing and other activities would be around Rs 30-40 crore. An aggressive promotion through outdoor, digital and traditional media is on the cards. "We are planning to come out with a unique initiative where we will be running buses across UP and Gujarat across more than 37 towns. Though this will take some time to execute, the dates are locked for post 15 September," says Seal. While the names of the sponsors haven’t been revealed yet, Life OK says it has managed roped in seven to eight of them, and the hunt is on for more.

But there are negatives riding against the basic concept of the show of a celebrity looking for a partner on air it, say media observers. Previous participants on the franchise - apart from Rahul and Dimpy Mahajan - did not end up getting hitched; in fact, they split up post the series.

"The franchise has been witnessing dropping ratings over the previous seasons on Imagine because viewers had begun to view it as a gimmick as fake or tamasha; they had felt cheated when marriage was not the end result," says a veteran creative director. "The challenge for Life Ok is to remove this sense of disbelief from audience's minds. Or maybe the team should just play up on the fun element of the search for a partner, rather than on the marriage vows. Let the channel executives remember that the viewer is not a moron, she is your wife. If the team finds this fine balance, then TV viewers might tune in, but in how many numbers we don't know."

With so much riding on Bachelorette, let’s just hope Mallika finds her match...

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