Sony to bring Indian version of 'Big Brother': report

MUMBAI: "We will not buy a Big Brother, which will not at all work in India." So said Sony Entertainment Television (SET) India CEO Kunal Dasgupta in an interview to in May 2005.

Obviously the think tank at India's Number Two Hindi entertainment network thinks differently today. A news report published by Biz Asia quotes officials in Sony Entertainment Television Asia as confirming that it will be telecasting a localised version of the risque reality TV show Big Brother.

However, when contacted, Sony officials as well as Endemol India managing director Rajesh Kamat refused any comment on the development.

The Indian version of Big Brother will be Sony's fourth Endemol acquisition after Indian Idol, Fame Gurukul and Fear Factor India. From the looks of it, reality does seem to be the tent pole of Sony's 2006 programming strategy.

The channel is already running the second season of Indian Idol and will also be rolling out Fear Factor India, Extreme Makeover (Buena Vista International Television) and Paisa Bhari Padeja (FBC Media Pvt. Ltd) this year. Apart from these, the second season of Fame Gurukul is also expected to roll out.

As for Endemol, it will also be in the spotlight this year on Indian television. Apart from the shows on Sony, the production house also has the localised versions of The Match (called The Cricket Match in the Indian version) and Heartbeat, which are likely to be rolled out on the Star network.

Dasgupta's initial reservations on acquiring format rights of Big Brother, rose from the bold concept of the show, which required 10 - 12 contestants living in a house rigged with cameras recording every moment of their lives.

The contestants are deprived of contact with the outside world except those allowed by the editorial team. Every week there are tasks to perform, which test their community spirit and team-work. Throughout the series, the contestants are required to nominate two of their number to be voted out of the house.

The audience at home decides, which of the two must leave. The format is centered around four elements:

The environment in which the contestants live - it's stripped - back to basics;

The knock-out system by which the contestants are voted out of the house by the audience at home;

The tasks, set by the editorial team, which the contestants must complete on a weekly basis; and

The diary room, in which the contestants are required to record their feelings, frustrations, thoughts and their nominations.

Big Brother is a format with a wide range of applications including internet exploitation and programme spin-offs. What remains to be seen is how the channel spins off the show keeping in mind the Indian mindset.

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