Sony pits reality drama 'Fame Gurukul' against 'Kasautii...'

MUMBAI: Always an aggressive marketer, SET is upping the ante even further for its next big proposition. Hitting the tube in early June is Fame Gurukul, the Indian adaptation of the Spanish reality show Operacion Triunfo.

Slotted from Mondays to Thursdays between 8:30-9 pm and on Fridays as a one hour special at 8 pm, the agenda at SET is very clearly to establish its forte in the reality, music and talent genre.

Fame Gurukul is essentially a daily reality drama that will track 14 contestants who vie for the top two places at a "music academy".


Interestingly, in a case of how an adaptation has become more familiar than the original, it is not Operacion Triunfo that is as well known as BBC's Fame Academy. The Brit version of the show traces the lives of contestants who live at the Fame Academy, a camera-infested mansion, until a winner (in the Indian case it will be a 'Fame Jodi') is announced.

Calling the property a "reality based soap opera" SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta pointed out that this was yet another endeavour to allow viewers to experience an unexplored area of reality.

According to SET EVP and business head Tarun Katial, the format that Fame Gurukul is following has been tested across various countries and has proven to be a ratings success wherever showcased. Katial also states, "This is the next level of reality. Where Indian Idol concluded, Fame Gurukul takes off."

What is interesting here to note is that in most cases, Fame Academy (as titled in the US and UK) has been a response to Idol. Hence, it has always been two rival networks using the above two formats to combat each others ratings. India is a first where both formats have been acquired by the same network.

Katial pointed out that the strategy was clear right from the beginning. "To first roll out Indian Idol, introducing reality TV in India, followed by Fame Gurukul which takes the reality paradigm to the next level." Indian Idol 2 will be only be scheduled much after the finale of Fame Gurukul.

Just to look at what the show is meant to do for the channel, with Indian Idol, Sony managed to rope in 16 per cent of new unique audiences onto to the channel. Katial pointed out that the eyeballs came mainly from SEC A and D. Fame Gurukul will further aid that process as well as give the much needed face lift that the 8:30 pm slot demands.

Also, the channel has this time round decided to take on Star's Kausautii Zindagi Kay (KZK) head on. KZK is one of the biggest television brands today, and pitting it against it is definitely a bold move. When questioned on whether the slotting will effect the sampling of the show, Katial said that Fame Gurukul as a format had inherent sampling pullers.


Coming to the offering of Fame Gurukul, the show pivots on the theme of giving 14 talented aspirants the opportunity to go to a music academy and be professionally trained by a team of veterans from the industry who groom them in every aspect of music and dance and make seasoned performers out of them.

The treatment of the show would be of a daily soap opera, highlighting and building on the drama and emotional quotient. The only difference being that viewers here would play a crucial role in deciding how the story develops and ends.

The show will be rolled out in various phases from introducing the concept to viewers, driving participation via auditions, the on-air premiere of the show and the final countdown as the final two - 'Fame Jodi' are chosen. Although, the differentiating factor here is that the show debuts with the final 14. And hence, from start to end will be in the high drama mode. The 14 aspirants will live together in the Gurukul, which has been specially designed and to heighten the reality quotient, cameras will follow the students every move day in and day out.

Each week will put to test four of the 14 aspirants and of the four one will be voted out. The voting this time will follow the immunity pattern, where one will be saved by the jury, one will be saved by fellow contestants and one will be saved by the viewers.

The show will run for a total of 15 weeks and is slated to make its debut by mid-June.

The duet that wins will be awarded a recording contract with a leading music company and a Rs 10 million contract with Sony BMG.

Show Pullers

It is all about star power! The Fame Gurukul headmistress is well known songstress Ila Arun. The jury that will decide the destiny of the contestants are lyricist, poet and screen play writer Javed Akhtar, singer Kay Kay and singer cum composer Shankar Mahadevan.

Presenting the show will be the Max diva Mandira Bedi and Manav Gohil.

Says SET vice-president marketing and communications Tushar Shah, "The TG is 4+ as the showwill cut across all age groups and SECs as it has universal appeal." Shah also stated that the focus area would be the top 10 to 15 markets. The campaign for Fame Gurukul will kickstart by the end of May. The channel is also planning some strategic tie-ups with various print publications and news channels for content syndication. The tag line of the show is 'Iske Liye Kuch Bhi Karega'.

As in the case of Indian Idol, producing the show are Optimystix Entertainment and Miditech.

Fame Gurukul is a licensed adaptation, the format owner being Gestmusic which is part of the Endemol group. The original format premiered on Television Espanol and has been adapted in 11 countries.


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