Season 7 promises ?jhalak? of unheard dance forms

MUMBAI: Bollywood, jazz, hip-hop, salsa, waltz... if you think you've seen it all, the upcoming season seven of Jhalak Dikhla Ja seven, Colors' popular dance reality show, promises many more dance forms from around the world that you've never heard of, let alone seen.

7 June onward, audiences will be treated to a bigger, better, bolder edition of JDJ every Saturday and Sunday night on Colors at 9pm.

A premium television property modeled on the international show Dancing with the Stars, JDJ will see 13 celebrity contestants battling it out for the best dancer title. Dancing diva Madhuri Dixit will be back as the judge and will be seen performing some of the new dance forms.

This season, Karan Johar, who seemed to be the easiest to please judge until now, will take on a no-nonsense avatar focusing purely on performance. Remo will sport a grunge look to go with his surly demeanor and promises to be a hard taskmaster where contestants are concerned.

Joining the jury will be Ukranian dance expert and winner of Dancing with the Stars Maksim Chmerkovskiy, taking the competition to a global level.

This season, viewers will see new hosts in Ranvir Shorey and last season?s winner Drashti Dhami. Performances will no longer be confined to the stage but will venture outdoors as well. Upping the ante, Salman Yusuff Khan and Lauren Gotteib will take on the role of adversaries and challenge contestants in an exciting dance combat.

Popular comic Sudesh Lehri will provide comic relief in the all dance routine.

About the new season, Colors CEO Raj Nayak says, ?We are very excited because this time, we are trying a lot of new things. We have lots of new elements, lots of tadka, and you will see this season leaping to another level.?

Laughs Dixit, ?Contestants have to learn to earn it, and the new anchors will too have to earn it."

Says Nayak, ?It?s always been tough. But this time, we are going to make it that much tougher. We are going to take contestants out of their comfort zones and India will get to see forms of dancing they have never seen on any other dance show ever."

BBC Worldwide India SVP and GM and content head, Asia, Myleeta Aga, who makes it a point to start penning down ideas for the next season as soon as one season starts, "Colors is an amazing broadcaster to work with. They are real supporters of content and they understand the importance of making a production work about scale, think of innovation. It is a great partnership."

Nayak says of all the elements, casting is most difficult. ?It is the most difficult thing, because people who want to come on the show are the people we don?t want, and people who we want on the show don?t want to come on the show and it takes a lot of convincing," he laughs.

This season, the celebrities demonstrating their dancing chops include Kritika Kamra, Mouni Roy, Purab Kohli, Karan Tacker, Sophie Choudry, Pooja Banerjee, Ashish Sharma, VJ Andy, Shakti Mohan, Akshat Singh, Sukhwinder Singh and Kiku Sharda in his avatar as Palak (of Comedy Nights with Kapil) and S Sreesanth.

Explaining the selection process, Colors digital head Vivek Srivastava says, ?Dancing ability is the number one criteria while selecting any celebrity. The other aspects of the casting have to be differentiated. You have to have the best mix people and that is what we have achieved this time.?

Adds Nayak, ?They are coming and becoming vulnerable in the public eye especially when they are all celebrities. For them to come and participate needs a lot of courage and conviction. People who come on the show come to win and that is why you see a lot of hard work going into the show."

For Aga, maintaining the standard has been most challenging. "People have an expectation on Jhalak and we can?t afford to lose that. Every season is about re-inventing, adding new elements and yet sticking to the things that work well," she says.

As for sponsors, Cadbury Bournvita has come on board as the presenting sponsor of the show for the third time in a row. Besides, Colors has roped in Gionee Smartphones as the powered by sponsor. The latter was also one of the sponsors of Colors' Khatron Ke Khiladi. The associate sponsors are Ultratech Cement, Liberty Shoes, Ruchi Soya, Johnson & Johnson's Clear & Clear and Luminous Water Purifier.

Interestingly, according to sources, the channel has increased its ad rates by 15-18 per cent over the last year. Cadbury is said to have shelled out around Rs 12-16 crore and Gionee a little less than that. The associate sponsors have been charged around Rs 5 crore and the channel is asking for Rs 3- 3.5 lakh per 10-second ad spot.

Sources from the channel indicate that the show breaks even every season and makes profit. This season, it is looking at 20-30 per cent growth in ad revenue as compared to last year. Industry experts believe that Colors could rake in Rs 70-75 crore ad revenue this season.

Talking about advertisers' response, Srivastava says, ?The channel like always has got fabulous response from the advertisers. Jhalak never had problems with sponsorships; in fact we had the problem of plenty.?

Marketing and promotion

Colors is all set to promote its marquee property in a big way. While the promos are already on-air, the show will also be marketed through other mediums like radio, cinema, digital and ground activations.

As part of ground activations, the channel is going all out in smaller markets, including LC1 markets. Branded autos with speakers will play the signature tune of the show. The 15-day activity will speak of how the show is different this time.

?The challenge is to make the new season as entertaining and as challenging as the last one,? says Srivastava.

Digitally speaking, contests have been designed on a huge scale where viewers will post their take on the show's best moments. Those who post the best comments will be given an opportunity to meet their favorite celebs and also perform with them. It will be the ?Do Your Jhalak moment?.

Says Nayak, ?The idea this time is purely about connecting with their favorite contestants and stars. So, it is all about background stories, what is happening in your lives, it is not just about what is happening on Saturdays and Sundays when the show goes on-air, but it is about what happens seven days a week.? Nayak believes that the channel has a great marketing team who is good in spending and getting good hit for the buck.

There is a website, where there are various sections where one can come to know about behind the scenes, promo videos, pictures and profiles of the contestants.

While industry experts reveal that the marketing spend would be around Rs 6-8 crore, Srivastava simply says, ?Jhalak is a big non-fiction property for Colors, and year-on-year we spend as much as we think it deserves and Jhalak is our marquee property. We would do justice to our property."

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