Television

Zee puts in Rs 1 billion behind star hunt

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MUMBAI: One thing there seems to be no dearth of as regards the movie talent hunt bandwagon that the Hindi entertainment channels are getting on to is money in the bagloads.

Whether it is Sahara's Mr and Miss Bollywood, Star India's Indian Superstar or Zee TV's India's Best' -cinestars ki khoj - all claim to to be bigger and better than the rest.

According to Zee TV president Sunil Khanna, Rs 1 billion is the total budget that is going into the effort which has taken the tagline "Kya aap tayyar hain apne big break ke liye". Who wouldn't be ready with that kind of money being behind the mega-project?

The Rs 1 billion budget also includes the production cost of two films that will be made around the two stars that are ultimately chosen which will average Rs 350 million each, says Khanna.

The costs of doing the ground event and the back-end work for what is expected to be a logistical nightmare will come up to Rs 300 million, he adds.

So how is the hunt being organised? The ground event will be flagged off in 20 cities across the country Hindi-speaking belt beginning 23 May. Each city will have auditions for a minimum of two days and the expectation is that 10,000 people will land up per day, per city, says Khanna. If there are two many to manage in the two days alloted more time will be given, he clarifies. The aim obviously is to be as all-inclusive as possible.

The catch is of course that during the preliminary audition potential candidates will get only between 45 seconds to one minute to make their mark.

The jury will select the four potential candidates from each city for a series of grooming processes. A specially designed promotional van will be travelling across these cities promoting the contest. In the second round out of the 80 candidates 32 will be selected by the jury and will be travelling to Mumbai for the final steps of grooming, adds the release. And it is from these 32 that two winners will emerge at the end of 16 episodes that will be devoted to covering the mega event.

The first episode goes on air in the first week of August, reveals Khanna.

"Beat that," seems to be the challenge that Zee has thrown at Star and Sahara.

Whichever way you look at it, it is happy season for any and all Hindi film wannabes hoping to be the next Shahrukh Khan or Preiti Zinta.

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