Though 'restricted', reality thrill will get better this year

(Posted on 4 January 2006)

It was meant to be the yummy year-ender for India's no.1 TV channel. But, Star's star-attraction Amitabh Bachchan fell ill. And the KBC schedule went for a toss.

Reveals, Star's executive vice-president (content) Deepak Sehgal,"We had to cancel plans for the year-end special featuring cousins, Fardeen and Zayed Khan on KBC. We had to perforce replace this special with new cuts of old KBC episodes featuring celebrities. The new celebrity episodes have all been cancelled."

Star has been trying to take AB's illness in its stride. "Initially, we did suffer a setback because of Mr Bachchan's unfortunate health problem. But, now we have indications that he may return to shoot KBC from February- end. Yes, by the third week of January 2006 we'll run out of new KBC episodes. We will continue with re-runs hoping viewers won't mind," says Deepak.

Mr Bachchan will hopefully shoot two episodes a day when he returns. "Initially he shot one episode a day. But, now he swims through two episodes per day. Undoubtedly, he's our main attraction on Star. Our big re-launch was through KBC. His presence is desperately missed."

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On a more positive note, Star One has ousted Sony Entertainment from the no.2 spot. Nach Baliye has done the trick. Says Deepak," Star One has already become the no.2 channel in Mumbai. If Sony refuses to accept that, we have the numbers to prove it. The currency is the same for all channels, and exchange rates are non-negotiable. Star One didn't claim to be no.1 until we really reached that position. In last week's ratings, Sony is no. 7 all-India. The process started with The Great Indian Laughter Challenge.

But, the buzz that Nach Baliye generated was unprecedented. We need to consolidate our position on the channel. The slot (9 pm onwards) is very competitive. Every channel wants to hit a sixer. We're hoping our new soap Dil Chahe More which replaces Nach Baliye will hit a sixer. We will also return with the second series of The Great Indian Laughter Challenge on Star One."

Deepak admits non-fiction programmes have a more sustained but briefer life-span. Sony has Fear Factor lined up, while Star has the game show Heart Attack coming up. "Reality TV has a relatively restricted relevance in India. We can't have sex-oriented reality shows like Joe Millionaire, like they have abroad. TV in India is for family. Therefore, no sex and lots of singing and dancing. Sony's Fear Factor is ideal for Indian TV. We have Heart Attack which we hope to air in the second quarter of 2006."

The host will be Indian. But, he won't be visible on screen. Meanwhile Star's Top 3 Ekta Kapoor-navigated soaps Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kasauti Zindagi Kay are expected to have their super-run for at least one more year. "Reality TV is like one fire-cracker that makes a beautiful design and then disappears. It's our five-year soaps which make all the difference," says Deepak.

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The big one for 2006 is Fear Factor. It would be Indian television's first international production, with India, Malaysia and Indonesia collaborating for this endeavour.

Says Sony Entertainment Television EVP Tarun Katial,"It's the world's biggest reality thrill game-show…has been running in several countries for over ten years. We've already shot thirteen episodes on different themes in Malaysia with different TV stars and film actors. This is a genre that has never been done before on Indian television."

In the meanwhile, Tarun stoutly defends the melodrama and tears on Indian Idol 2. "The tears aren't orchestrated. They're genuine. Being an Indian Idol means so much more to the participants than it did earlier. The first time around the contestants didn't realize what being an Abhijeet Sawant meant. Now just being in the Top 10 is bliss. Hence the desperation and tears. You can't force tears on reality TV."

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I was wondering why Emran Hashmi came to judge those talented youngsters on Sa Re Ga Ma.. when he was so disinterested in them! And really, how are people like Hashmi and Udita Goswami qualified to judge singing talent, especially of such a developed caliber.

Kam…Ya Zyada? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. Manoj Bajpai cannot hope to equal the power and glory of Amitabh Bachchan's game-show acumen. In fact, Manoj is so stiff, staccato and pale, you wonder why Zee decided to put him on in the first place. His interaction with the contestants isn't bad. But, he just doesn't seem to connect with the camera.

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(The views expressed here are those of the author and indiantelevision.com need not necessarily subscribe to the same)

 
 
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