Channel 4's Bollywood reality contest irks UK-Asians

MUMBAI: Channel 4's reality television contest Bollywood Star has created a stir among the Asian community in the UK, with critics alleging that the show is the channel's ploy to improve its ratings by cashing in on Bollywood's fame in Britain.

The show starts on Tuesday, 1 June. The winner of the show will get a key role in a soon-to-go-on-the-floors movie to be directed by Mahesh Bhatt.

Bollywood films have been doing well in the UK box office of late with Bollywood filmmakers conceiving themes keeping the UK-Indian audience in mind. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Bombay Dreams" was a sell-out and Television stations and cinemas have been devoting special seasons to Indian films.

London-based Eastern Eye newspaper's showbiz editor Asjad Nazir is quoted in media reports as saying "the program is a complete rip-off for Asian people." Nazir alleges that none of the judges in the contest has top Bollywood credentials.

But, in their turn, Channel 4 has claimed that the members of the judging committee music producer Bally Sagoo, BBC Radio 1 DJ Bobby Friction, choreographer Honey Kalaria and actress Sophiya Haque had Bollywood connections.

The Channel 4 spokeswoman is quoted as saying, "instead of being simply a talent show this one allows people to deal with cultural identity in an entertainment format that lets Asian culture speak for itself."

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