Zoom's channel driver 'Pond's Banungi Main Miss India' premieres 22 February

MUMBAI: Lifestyle channel Zoom is all set to launch Pond's Banungi Main Miss India (BMMI), a 12-episode reality series based on the Pond's Femina Miss India contest.

The show premieres on 22 February at 9 pm and will be telecast every Wednesday to Friday till 17 March.

Zoom head of programming Aparnaa Pande spoke to on the BMMI reality series. On being asked why Zoom decided on a reality series based on the Miss India beauty pageant, she says, "It's been over a year since our launch, and we were looking for a channel driver. What better property to develop than this event from the Times Group. Also, reality shows is what the television industry in India is showcasing today. Hence it was a natural way to go. This property has been developed from scratch."

"The Pond's Femina Miss India pageant is one of the most celebrated events in the country. As a result of BMMI, for the first time the Indian audience will witness the many things that go into the making of a Pond's Femina Miss India, as well as vote for the girl whom they believe should represent the country," adds Pande.

Commenting on the series Pande says, " Produced by FBC Media, it is a reality show like no other. Voting by the public set the contest on a roll, with each girl realising the importance of gaining support from the public. The highlights also show the final selection process as the candidates goes from 26 to10 finalists to help build suspense," says Pande.

The first episode of BMMI - a 2 hour special - shows the entire process of the girls getting selected for their regional rounds and the finalists coming to Mumbai. The highlight of the first episode will be that based on the audience votes, for the first time in the history of the pageant, one girl will have to leave the contest even before the stringent 40-day training process commences.

"There is a new element introduced in every episode that takes each episode further to the next one. The show has a definite 'aspirational' graph. There are unexpected twists and turns in every episode leading to a high point on episodes aired every Wednesday and Friday," adds Pande.

"We were interested in doing a big production.The series has been well scripted so that it goes beyond just being a spectacle of glamour. The show will be hosted by reigning Pond's Femina Miss India Earth 2005 Niharika Singh, and joining her for the special episode on the 22 February will be model/actor, Milind Soman."

With an innovative voting system, the public choose one contestant to get a wild card entry into the top 10 list. Viewers can vote till 17 March. The contestant 'Miss 8888' who gets the highest viewer votes will get a place in the top ten of the final contest. Pande adds that the channel has received over one million SMS's till date from 25 January (the date when voting opened).

"While the reality series is essentially based on audience votes, the jury for the regional rounds comprised of Hemant Trivedi, Dabboo Ratnani and Femina's editor Amy Fernandes. The jury for the various sub-contests is diverse and essentially comprises of people who are experts in the field," says Pande when asked who formed the jury.

The 26 finalists from Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Goa, Punjab and Chennai will be groomed by an expert panel to be potential international pageant winners. The experts will provide tips on various aspects, including skin, fitness, make-up and hair styling, mock shoot, diction and stage presence, hair care, ramp walk and choreography, grooming and etiquette, stress management and dental care.

"The girls get trained by the best in the field which includes Hemant Trivedi, Daboo Ratnani, Deanne Pandey, Ruksana Eisa, Sandip Soparrkar, Sabeera Merchant, Bharat and Doris, Mehar Bhasin and Dr. Sandesh Mayekar," says Pande.

On the question of advertisers for the series Pande said, "Apart from Ponds who is the title sponsor for this pageant, we have Pantaloons and Richfeel Trichology Centre as the associate sponsors. Tanishq is the official crown and jewellery sponsor. The other co-sponsors are Happydent, Urban Yoga, Jealous Jeans, Liberty Shoes and Johnson and Johnson."

Toward the promotional activities that the channel has planned for the event, Pande says, "Zoom has been airing profile promos on the contestants to help viewers get to know them better. These promos are aired every half hour on Zoom. The promos give an opportunity for each contestant to tell a little about themselves and canvas votes."

The buildup with publicity events for BMMI will be featured through various mediums- print, TV and on the ground. NDTV is also airing promos for the show.

Two former Miss India's remember the time they won the coveted crown and speak about India being a part of the selection process this year. Diana Hayden said, "I have no regrets about the year I was crowned because I was standing before a brilliant panel of judges - from Kumaramangalam Birla to Rajmata Gayatri Devi. I would have no problems if India was voting too; that's great too as a concept and shows how technology brings the world closer."

"The involvement of both - the jury and the public - would be the best option. A jury is a select team of people who know the business and therefore also know what would be internationally required. It would be great if more people really get the chance to be a part of it. Public voting could transcend to all strata of society, that way the entire country can choose their winner and representative," said Lara Dutta.

The star studded grand finale will take place on 18th March at the MMRDA grounds, Bandra Kurla Complex. The televised finale of BMMI will be held on 18 March and will air on Sony. Pande does add here that as Zoom has the footage of the pre-event activities till the final day, viewers can expect to see follow-ups.

A bit cagey, but Pande did reveal that Zoom is expected to announce two new shows Maximum Style and Gizmo Freak to debut in March.

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