MUMBAI: The latest in a long line of regional language adaptations spawned by the runaway hit, Amitabh Bachchan-hosted Kaun Banega Crorepati, is the Telugu version.
Titled Meelo Evaru Koteeswarudu (MEK), the show is tentatively scheduled for a June 9 premiere on Maa TV and will be hosted by popular Telugu actor, Nagarjuna Akkineni. Slated to run for a minimum 40 episodes for now, the 90 minute show will be aired four days a week from Monday to Thursday.
Ten to fifteen people from Big Synergy, the production house for the format in India, and Maa TV, are already working on the show. Entry will be open to Telugu speaking people across India, beginning April 24. Viewers will be able to answer questions both via SMS and IVR. This is the first time that a big-ticket show is being adapted for the state of Andhra Pradesh. “We have been wanting to get into the Telugu market for the past two years, but we needed a broadcaster to take the call. Maa TV has gained number one status and they want to retain that position. Through MEK, they will be setting a benchmark in this market, and we hope it will change the dynamics of the industry,” says Big Synergy COO Indranil Chakraborty.
Currently, teams from both Maa TV and Big Synergy’s Hyderabad arm are being groomed for the show. “It is a compelling program. Our objectives are to raise the channel stature and make viewers feel good about the channel and the show,” says Maa TV group head, C Ratnakar Rao. Apparently, Gemini TV and ETV were also contenders in the race to get MEK on board but it was Maa TV which finally landed the show.
Auditions are expected to go on for almost a month in the cities of Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam and Vijayawada and the final selection will rest with an independent jury of producers and broadcasters in the state. At least a couple of million registrations are expected for the prize money of Rs 1 crore.
It’s a big challenge for Maa TV, considering production costs of a show like MEK would be many times higher than those of normal shows. “The kind of investment that we make in Hindi is not very apt for regional markets. Regional markets are usually 40 per cent of the production cost in Hindi,” points out Chakraborty.
Sources say the production cost of MEK, which is being shot at Annapura Studios in Hyderabad coupled with the sound system and technical skills of Maa TV, could be anywhere Rs 5 to Rs 7 crore for 40 episodes. However, the production house may look at extending it depending on the dates for the Hindi KBC, which is to follow MEK. “The idea is to keep the property alive through different markets throughout the year,” adds Chakraborty.
Not only will the Telugu version retain the essence of the Hindi version, things like customizing questions for the Telugu audience and playing the short film about the contestant before the game begins will be part of MEK as well.
Maa TV is presently scouting for advertisers for the game show. “We have made good investments in Meelo Evaru Koteeswarudu and we hope to break even. I am sure the advertisers see potential in the show and our channel,” says Rao. Though Maa TV has appealed against the ad cap regulation, it will still comply with the rule. The ad rev market of Andhra Pradesh in 2013 was Rs 1030 crore making it the second biggest in the south after Tamil Nadu. In terms of viewership share of regional channels too, Telugu stood second at 24 per cent after Tamil with 27 per cent.
As for visibility, a full-fledged marketing campaign will hit the state mid-May, around the time shooting begins. Orchard Advertising has been assigned the task of creatives while planning is being done by Maa TV itself.
The Telugu adaptation comes after KBC has already been adapted in the remaining three major markets in south India i.e. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. These apart, there are Marathi, Bhojpuri and Bengali versions of the show as well.