AXN's India Pak Challenge off to a decent start in Mumbai

MUMBAI: Crawling on hands and feet through muck! Tightening a nut and bolt inside a box filled with over 1000 cockroaches! These were just a couple of challenges that participants in the Mumbai qualifying round of AXN's Extreme India Vs Pakistan Challenge had to perform.

Around 125 participants mostly college students turned up this morning at the St. Xavier's Football Ground in Parel. Speaking to on the occasion Sony Assistant VP marketing Rohit Bhandari who looks after AXN in India said, " The response while not outstanding has been decent when you consider the difficulty reaching the venue. The rain however makes the situation all the more difficult and interesting.

"This is our way of having people experience the AXN brand up close and personal. In the Delhi qualifying round we will have 400 participants while in Bangalore and Kolkata the figure is 300 and 200 respectively. In Karachi so far 140 people have evinced interest. However on the day of the Pakistan event I am confident that more people will turn up."

The qualifying events have three stages. The first stage sees a sprint and pull ups being performed. 50 participants move into the next stage, which is the most physical. Here you have participants crawling underneath a 30 inch net, scaling a six foot wall and climbing a scaffolding and then moving from one end to the other using a rope and harness. Both timing and the overall personality are taken into account.

The number of contestants is then whittled down to 20 for the third and final stage. This is when the earlier mentioned cockroach box situation comes into play. There is also a situation reaction test that lasts for around ten minutes for each participant.

Each participant answers ten questions within four seconds. The test administrator has a stop watch that beeps on the fourth second. One person emerges victorious. "Our aim is to check their reactions and how they are able to maintain a presence of mind in front of the camera. We are also trying to gauge how each participant will function in a team. The finale will see four Indians having to work together for the first time against four members of Pakistan."

Bhandari went on to state that the India Vs Pakistan Challenge was the only ground event lined up for this year. "Last year it made sense for us to do the Hot 'n' Wild Hunt. It was unique and we were the only ones doing such an event. This year there are so many searches being done by various channels whether it is for a singer or for an actor that if we repeated Hot 'n' Wild then we would not stand out. Therefore we decided to stay away from the search concept," Bhandari explained.

He added that while Guinness World Records was a unique concept that had been done in India a couple of years ago the problem was that there was no instant gratification for the participants. Ratification takes six to eight weeks and the participant is left wondering as to whether his/her effort has been worth it.

AXN however did run a Live your Big Action Dream Contest in June. This was an on air thing where viewers had to mail in their replies to on what they felt was the biggest thing they wanted to in life. Today in Singapore the winner from Mumbai did a 12,000-foot skydive jump from a helicopter. Bhandari explained that this was possible because the Singapore Military was organising a skydiving exhibition.

He however added that some of the requests had not been feasible. "Some people asked for dinner with Shah Rukh Khan, which clearly does not fit our brand. There were a few who wanted to drive a Formula One car, which was out of our reach. We also had a lot of people who wanted to do white water rafting." The next ten good entries won prizes in the form of mobile phones and other gifts.

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