AXN's 'Extreme Dhamaka' comes to a climax in Mumbai

MUMBAI: A car hanging on a crane 25 feet in the air! People attempting to walk on slippery soap from one end of a place to the other! A bike being driven through a ring of fire!

These were a few of the dares that took place this evening as action-oriented AXN's local production Extreme Dhamaka hit Mumbai.

The event will also take place tomorrow at the MMRDA Grounds in Mumbai's Bandra (East) suburb.

Over the course of the past two weeks AXN's team of Australian model Tania Zaetta, ex-cricketer turned television host Mike Whitney along with the hot 'n' wild couple Salil Acharya and Deepica Sharma have been touring six cities in the country challenging people to do exactly what they thought they never would or should do.

Extreme Dhamaka will air as a series of 13 half-hour episodes on AXN in December. Sony's assistant marketing V-P Rohit Bhandari said that the biggest challenge had been coping with the searing heat.

Comparing the series to last year's, he said, "We had just one host, Whitney, doing Who Dares Wins. Also we were on the road continuously. This time Whitney and Sharma alternated with Zaetta and Acahrya and so the stress was relatively less." He explained that they had two event management firms taking care of proceedings, this time. While Shobiz looked after the venue set-up, Candy took care of the road shows. 

Whitney said, "Some of the stuff that we have done on Extreme Dhamaka is bigger and better than what I have done on television over the past nine years. In fact, using the stadium arena for an event like this has never been done before. There was skepticism expressed by people abroad over whether this was feasible in India and we have laid their concerns to rest."

Whiteny added, "We have a serious job to do and there is no monkeying around. What is unique is that the stunts are much easier said than done."

Acharya remembered the time he jumped into a tank in New Delhi, in order to convince a participant to do it. "It was important for Deepica and myself to get a clear idea of what we expected participants to do," he said. As far as the mini dares and carnival stunts were concerned, he recalled people attempting to eat dried grass and eggs that were literally a century old.

Zaetta meanwhile disapproved the notion that Indian women were too conservative. She remembered a 45-year-old women in a sari driving a bike backwards.

Acharya added, "We will be having stunts involving fire today and tomorrow. A bike will be driven through a ring of fire. It is a matter of both precision and timing. We have two ambulances stationed at the venue. There is also security padding to guard against any mishaps."

Talking about the response received, Whitney said, "In India, fans cannot get enough of reality television. Indian fans are very polite and respectful which is a contrast to Australia where they can be very abrasive."

"Tania and I try to get up close to the fans as much as possible which is very rare for celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh or Bollywood stars. I am not happy until I have signed the last autograph. At the end of the day, if they do not switch on the television then Tania and I do not have a job. Therefore, the personal touch is important."

He added that the routine never got monotonous. The

Extreme Dhamaka challenge was different for each city.

"Each city had a unique flavour. In Chennai, for instance, there was a communication problem due to the Tamil language. So instructions tended to go from one person to the next. The festive atmosphere around us at the different cities where effigies were burnt added to the sense of excitement," he said.

Acharya also said that one of the aims was to build a Salil-Deepica brand equity. Four to five months down the line when the television viewers get familiar with them, another local show could be looked at.

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