Television

Who will be India’s Junior MasterChef?

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MUMBAI: If you thought children’s reality shows on the small screen were only about singing, dancing or acting, think again. Riding on the success of MasterChef India, Star Plus is gearing up for a brand new show that will see kids aged eight to twelve years cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Indeed, the show titled Junior MasterChef - Swaad Ke Ustaad and produced by Colosceum Media, will be the first such in the history of Indian television.

It is not a singing or dancing show. Nobody has ever seen kids cooking, I am sure in my head and heart that the show will do well, says Ashish Golwalkar

But why children? clarifies Star India senior VP - marketing Nikhil Madhok: “Kids have a universal appeal. Everybody, including adults and kids themselves, will be interested in what these small wonders cook up. Most importantly, we are giving young cooking enthusiasts a platform.”

While the format is modeled on the lines of Junior MasterChef Australia, which has already completed one season, the show will adapt to Indian sensibilities. Explains Star India senior vice president – programming, Ashish Golwalkar: “What they cook there, we cannot cook here because many of the ingredients are not available. The basic essence will be similar to Junior Masterchef Australia, but we have changed it a lot to suit the Indian palate.”

Auditions have been conducted in three cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata and ten kids have been finalised. What’s more, four to five episodes have already been shot at RK Studios in Chembur.

Chefs Jolly, Kunal and Vikas will expect nothing less than perfect, well-executed and delicious dishes

Talking about the response at the auditions, Golwalkar says: “To be frank, before conducting the auditions, we were not sure whether the kids would be able to do this or not. And if so, then what kind of kids we were going to take. But the response we received was overwhelming. Around 8,000 kids turned up for the auditions. Some even travelled from smaller towns to showcase their skills.”

But will it work? Madhok sounds confident: “We want to capture the innocence of the children and showcase their skills in an area usually associated with adults. Eight to twelve years is perfect for us because the kids are cute, eager to learn and the way they will demonstrate their talent will amaze people worldwide.”

Adds Golwalkar: “It is not a singing or dancing show. Nobody has ever seen kids cooking, I am sure in my head and heart that the show will do well. So, by the sheer nature of its content, it will be different from the others. It’s prime time and we are ready to take a fight, and as a channel, we are ready to take up any challenge. As leaders, if we don’t take risks and push the envelope, then who else will.”

The first season of Junior MasterChef – Swaad Ke Ustaad will be begin to air from today, for 12 weeks every Saturday and Sunday at 9 p.m.

And it’s not just about giving other reality shows a run for their money.

We are giving young cooking enthusiasts a reality show platform but in a whole new avatar says Nikhil Madhok

“One child will win, that is the nature of the competition, but our attitude and endeavour is to encourage all the children who participate in the show,” says Madhok.

Chefs Vikas Khanna, Kunal Kapoor and Surjan Singh Jolly will be the celebrity judges on the show. With kids involved, won’t they be lenient as compared to the adults’ version?

Nothing will be made easy for the li’l chefs, clarifies Golwalkar. Every week, different tasks will be assigned to them and they will have to live up to the judges’ expectations.

What about the kids’ safety?

Four contestant managers will take care of the children while they chop or cook, says Golwalkar, adding: “Nobody needs to worry about safety. We have followed enough precautions as per the international format.”

The show will be replacing the dance reality show India’s Dancing Superstar on Star Plus. Amul is the presenting sponsor and Pigeon, Fiona and Yippee noodles are its associate sponsors.

Marketing and promotions

Star Plus has adopted a three-pronged approach toward promoting Junior MasterChef - Swaad Ke Ustaad; television, digital and on-ground.

On the television front, promos are already being aired on the entire Star network as well as 22 channels outside the network to communicate that JMC is not just a show for kids but for the entire family.

Digitally, Star Plus has tied-up with MSN India and Yahoo! to make available exclusive behind-the-scenes content of the show. A digital application is on the cards which will help download recipes one sees on the show or indulge in a live chat with the judges and kids. A Facebook application has also been created where the young guns will test the audience’s knowledge about food.

As far as on-ground activity is concerned, various competitions will be held between adults and children in ten cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Indore, Pune, Chandigarh and Lucknow. The intent is to demonstrate how talented kids can be, sometimes surpassing adults as well.

Viewers will witness a perfect amalgamation of great food stirred up with a riot of laughter and fun

Apart from the three important legs of the campaign, Star Plus has teamed up with Hindustan Times for a novel print idea. On the day of the launch of JMC, HT Cafe and HT City will appear half their usual size as a tribute to the “Junior Master Chefs” debuting the same night.

Secondly, in a unique contest on Radio City, listeners who believe they have carried the most boring dabba that day will be encouraged to interact with the RJ. If the listener manages to convince the RJ that he/she does have 'the most boring dabba', he/she will win a treat from The Junior MasterChef Kitchen - the very same day.

Thirdly, selected cinema halls will have a special ‘Junior Master Chef seat’. The lucky viewer who happens to get that seat will be treated to a delicious surprise from the JMC kitchen during the interval.

While season one of the Australian version was won by one Isabella, we eagerly await to see who will win the show’s Indian counterpart.

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