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NGC's 'Mission Everest' to air on Star Plus, [V] Team

(8 April 2003 5:00 pm)
MUMBAI: National Geographic's (NGC) mission is clear-cut! Enable ordinary people to do the extraordinary by
affording them the opportunity to tackle Mount Everest
and at the same time expose your programming to a mass audience who normally would ignore it. Keeping this in mind, the channel has announced that the first episode of its reality series Mission Everest will also air on Star Plus and Channel [V] on 20 April at 7 pm.

As has been reported earlier, the channel joined forces with the Indian Army to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary doing what at that time seemed only just a dream.

At a media briefing this morning, NGC India MD Zubin Gandevia said: "Usually, we create programmes for the global market as it is cost effective. Mission Everest marked the first time we created a programme for just one market India as it is growing steadily in importance and relevance. National Geographic is an aspirational brand where our viewers have seen explorers who dared
to dream. Now they can see five people like themselves
ready to take the plunge."

Nine episodes will air each Sunday on NGC. Star Plus
will also have repeats of the same. Viewers will see the preliminary selections where Indian men and women
compete against each other. The show then moves on to
the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering where the Indian
Army selects participants. Viewers will also see the
selection of the final five as well as the gruelling physical training needed to face Everest

On the distribution front, Gandevia said that at the
moment, NGC was the fourth best distributed channel in
the country reaching 24 million homes.

"We get a 40-50 per cent reach each month. We have already had ad revenue growth of seven to eight per cent and we aim to increase this by 40 per cent over what was done last year. Our Everest Se Takkar contest which we launched at the end of January received 30,000 entries."
Around seven episodes have so far been shot. Shooting
will finish by 15 June. The budget for Mission Everest
is Rs 110 million," Gandevia said.

When asked how successful the channel would be in recovering this investment Gandevia pointed out that the initiative had gotten sponsors including Hero Honda as the presenting sponsor. He said that the expenditure was justified as the channel was trying to break out of the niche category and get a certain percentage of the mass
audience to sample its product offerings.

After airing Mission Everest, NGC will then telecast
the documentary Surviving Everest.. This will showcase last year's 50th anniversary Everest expedition. It included Tenzing Norgay's son Jamling and Edmund Hillary's son Peter.

Sons follow in the footsteps of their fathers.
(L to R) Jamling Norgay, Peter Hillary, Brent Bishop

Speaking to, Jamling said: "Surviving Everest is our way of paying tribute to our fathers. Mission Everest is a good way to reach out to the public and open up the channels for adventure sports. To climb Everest I always say that the main keys are mountaineering experience and passion. It must come from within you. In fact anything you do in life, which in your case is writing, must come from the heart."

"You must respect the mountain and teammates. You cannot accomplish the mission alone. Most important is
teamwork. You cannot tread the altitude. You have to
take it step by step. Each step is a huge effort and
so mental preparation is also very important. Everest
is dangerous as it is high. The altitude kills people.
Actually any mountain is dangerous and a lot of people
have died on the way down. Climbing up is optional.
Climbing down is mandatory," adds Jamling.

Jamling was also very much a part of the Imax film
Everest in 1998. Talking the filmmaking techniques used he said, "We had a special camera. It weighed 42 pounds while the special film weighed ten pounds. It was 500 feet long. When we shot, it was only 90 seconds. We had two cameramen on the team who were expert climbers."

"It is a difficult process. It is not like taking a video camera and shooting. You have to actually set everything up like lenses. We did takes all the way upto the summit. Sometimes we had to do two takes at 27,000 feet. It took almost two years to make the film. It was a very arduous chore but it was a great project to work on. We were able to take the rest of the world on a climb with us," says Jamling.

Jamling also reminisces: "When my father climbed Everest in 1953 the idea of mountaineering wasn't in the minds of Indians. Today, thanks to television projects involving the likes of National Geographic, adventure sport is making its presence felt in the living rooms of Indians."

Despite climbing Everest in 1996, just a few weeks after a disaster took place, Jamling says that he had no fear. "We knew that we would find bodies along the way - people who were our friends. It served as a good reminder for us to be careful. Now, of course, equipment is much lighter compared to what my father used. In those days they used logs to cross cervices. Now you use ladders."

Gandevia said that the channel would release other
summer programmes around Mission Everest. Watch this space for further details.

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