Sahara's 'Mr & Miss Bollywood' in its final phase

MUMBAI: Is it the dark horse? May be, may be not. But one thing is for sure that while rest of its contemporaries look at translating their talent hunts into an excellent television event, Sahara Manoranjan has no such ambitions for Mr & Mrs Bollywood.

Currently gearing towards its final round, Sahara Manoranjan's talent hunt has kept a very low profile. "We are not looking at playing 'channel games'. Both Sahara and us (Percept D'Mark) are into business of making films. While Sahara is looking at churning out 50 films per year, we have couple releases line up ourselves. What we realised that we needed stars and hence the effort, " offered Percept D'Mark president films Alan Mans.

The celebrity management group, Percept D'Mark has been conducting and supervising the logistics of the event, which is being supported by Sahara Manoranjan.

Comprising three elimination rounds, the channel claims that its hunt has received over 42,000 entries by the closing date 23 April 2004. While the announcement for the last phase of selection should be made in a couple of days, Mans indicated that in addition to the eminent panel, the channel might also organise a contest for public to vote and select. The likelihood of the contest being a print one is more. The involvement of channel is kept to minimum, the televised event, in fact, will be telecast for just six days.

After the initial prescreening, the channel zeroed down to 556 contestants- 353 male and 203 female for the audition round, which began on 11 May 2004 and was held in five cities. "We deliberately decided to have it as a low key affair as we wanted it to be a focussed exercise. Even at the last stages of the selection, we are inviting a select section of media to look at the final screening process, Mans added.

In the second round of screening, the jury comprising ex-chairman of the National School of Drama, Delhi Padma Shri Ram Gopal Bajaj, National Award winning director Ashwini Choudhary, diction expert Rama Vaidyanathan, fashion stylist Lindsey Hulme, choreographer Pony Verma and well-known journalist Rauf Ahmed, who is also called as the brains behind Mr and Miss Bollywood selected the final 30 contestants.

"It has been an intensive audition. Our audition process was based on three criteria, age, experience, keenness or aptitude. If some one had a theatre experience or has attended couple of acting courses, we know that he or she is focussed on acting as the career, so naturally they were preferred," Mans informed.

While amongst the final 30 zeroed down, the main six will be groomed for a career on silver screen, the remaining 24 will be absorbed by the television production unit.

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