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Reality shows add new zing to Indian TV

From talent hunts to game shows ? reality TV is a big deal on the small screen, says Abrity Basu.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2006 13:58 IST

Reel life is not too different from real life on these shows. From talent hunts to game shows — reality TV is big deal on the small screen. And keen to cash in on their success, channels are churning out one reality show after another.

Fear Factor India started recently on Sony. Extreme Makeover, on the same channel, is looking at a June or July launch. Zee launched Business Baazigar on March 31.

Star One is airing Jet Set Go. Mostly, however, reality shows in India are based on international formats.

Fear Factor India may be doing well but one cannot ignore that it is another of those international formats, which have been given national appeal by throwing in some telly stars.

Extreme Makeover, too, is not a homemade product. With Sony rooting for international content, does it mean that they have no faith in Indian formats?

The channel calls their move a simple strategy. “When we use something that has already proved to be successful in several other countries, we are putting our money on something that has greater chances of getting the TRPs to climb. Also, doing a reality show isn’t easy.

Using an existing formula makes it easier,” says a spokesperson. Zee TV would rather stick to creating a reality show from scratch.

“International formats lay more emphasis on being flashy and packaging, which never works in the end,” asserts Ashish Kaul, senior VP, Zee Telefilms.

The channel is living up to its principles with Business Baazigar. “It is an original show that seeks to empower a common individual. The participants will be tested on business acumen and team spirit and the winner will have Zee Telefilms fund his business venture,” explains Kaul.

Miditech Productions, which is responsible for ‘Indianising’ shows like Indian Idol and Deal Ya No Deal, feels that there are plenty of shows with original formats doing the rounds (MTV Roadies for example), but they don’t really get noticed due to marketing strategy.

“Every channel has a fixed budget for two or three big shows a year. Buying international formats costs money, so they back these more,” says Nikhil Alva of Miditech.

Star One was immensely successful with the reality dance competition Nach Baliye (unofficially ‘inspired’ by the American Dance with the Stars). They are looking to reprise that success with their latest offering, Jet Set Go. This time, they have chosen an original format.

The show has four field anchors in different parts of Mumbai trying to convince people on the streets to take an all-expense-paid vacation within the next four hours.

The second season of Nach Baliye is also on the cards towards end 2006.