MUMBAI: Dancing isn’t just about mean moves; it’s also about attitude. This is the reason why Zee TV is all set to bring back DID (Dance India Dance) L’il Masters, now in its third season, to replace the ongoing DID season four.
Starting 1 March, children aged five to 12 years will mesmerise audiences with their awe-inspiring performances every weekend at 9 pm. This time round, the show positioning is: ‘from dadagiri to bachchagiri’.
Zeel content head (Hindi GECs) Ajay Bhalwankar, who recently resigned from his post, explains: “Though the world is heavily borrowed from dadagiri, bachchagiri in no way gives any leeway to over-smartness or cockiness. Kids aren’t show-offs but they do have a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude when it comes to dance. They aren’t afraid of a little competition and stage fear means nothing to them.”
Says Nitin Keni of Essel Vision Productions, producer of the show: “These are genuinely gifted children and little powerhouses of talent who astonished us with their unimaginable talent. Along with entertainment, Zee and Essel Vision have always endeavored to become the most coveted platform for aspiring youth and women in the country and with the third season of DID L’il masters, we only hope to strengthen that conviction of ours.”
Season three will follow a similar format with 16 contestants divided into four teams led by skippers including Sanam Johar, Raghav (Crockroaz) and Swarali Karulkar (DID 4 contender) with the fourth name still under consideration. Masters Geeta Kapoor, Ahmad Khan and Mudassar Khan will judge the performances while veteran actor Mithun Chakraborty (Mithun Da) will once again lend his characteristic wit to the platform. Hosting the show would be popular television actor Jay Bhanushali.
So what’s the talking point of this season? “We, as a channel, don’t have to do anything new. Of course, we have plans to think about new dance forms, acts and visuals but what is really new is a fresher mind, fresher and more original talent. Kids are typically very informal; they have a mind of their own and when they perform, they completely rock the stage,” says Bhalwankar before adding, “I couldn’t have imagined some of the steps they ended up doing during the auditions.”
He lavishes praise on the talent possessed by these kids. “They can change the format and mould it; they can mould their performance… We have to give them a format which allows them freedom. Bachchagiri is a format for us, and the entire control has been given to the kids,” he says.
According to Zeel new programming head Namit Sharma, who assumed responsibility only yesterday, season three is a lot about evolution. “Lil masters is a very unique show. It is fun, engaging, heartwarming and at the same time, inspirational, because you are watching these kids doing all the fantastic moves. This year, we are keen on seeing the kids grow and evolve rather than just contestants in a reality show,” he says.
Already, dancing fever has gripped the nation with auditions being held in 15 cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Vadodara, Jaipur, Raipur, Indore, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Dehradun, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Patna, Jammu and Lucknow. The number of participants has risen 25 per cent from last year’s one lakh contestants. After more than four months of auditioning, 100 children have been selected, of which, 16 finalists will be selected in mega auditions being held this week.
Speaking of her experience, Kapoor said: “Judging kids was a tough call. We had to be easy with them. However, each and every child is a winner for us. We don’t treat them as contestants but as normal kids.”
While Khan felt their main job was to console the kids who’d been rejected in the auditions phase. “Somewhere down the line, they are conditioned to the fact that they are here to get popularity. They don’t come with a positive mind that they will get selected,” he said.
On their part, the skippers said they enjoyed choreographing the ‘patakas’
Johar, a contestant of DID season three, said: “It’s very interesting to choreograph kids. After becoming a skipper, you can’t show or teach them moves which are repetitive; we have to do something new. Instead of getting scared, we have to be prepared to do something innovative.” Raghav, who is famous for his slo-mo style said: “It is all in nature. You get to learn a lot from your surroundings. We don’t have to teach anything to the kids creatively. Get them on stage, and they will burn the dance floor. They are very smart. Plus, they come prepared.”
Industry sources say the channel is looking at anything between Rs 180 and Rs 190 crore from DID L’il Masters season three with anything between Rs 1,20,000 and Rs 1,80,000 for every 10 seconds.
Marketing and promotion
A 360-degree marketing plan is on the anvil comprising outdoor, print, television and radio to sustain audience interest in the property. As part of on-ground, children will form special ‘Dhating Naach Tolis’ and visit various housing societies in Mumbai and Delhi to play Holi with the residents as a mark of the festival.
Vignettes have been created for television where kids will sometimes be seen talking about a show before it starts and encouraging the audience to see it. On the digital side, there are plans to create a hashtag #DIDLM for greater engagement with the viewers.
No doubt the show will face tough competition from the ongoing India’s Got Talent on Colors and the upcoming Mad in India on Star Plus. While Mad in India is a 75,000 per 10 sec slot, IGT is 1.25 lakh. But with the last season having opened at 5.8 TVR, Bhalwankar remains unfazed. “When kids come to the show, they have a ball. I don’t think we will need masala to get ratings or eyeballs. Other people can worry,” he laughs.