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Indian TV pays peanuts: Shekhar

tv Updated: May 08, 2009 21:33 IST
Hiren Kotwani
Hiren Kotwani
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

After doing TV serials like Khandaan, Mahanagar and Udaan, Shekhar Kapur returns to television to judge a reality show on Colors. In a tete' a tete' with Hiren Kotwani...

Ever thought you’d judge a reality show?
I’ve done TV serials like Khandaan, Mahanagar and Udaan. I was hosting On The Other Hand, a talk show for Channel Four in the UK. So why not a reality show? India’s Got Talent is an interesting concept. As a filmmaker, it’s fascinating for me to meet people with diverse talents from across the country. Someone had once given me a script about a character who comes on a talent show to make it big. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing about the experiences of people coming from the small towns.

Was the remuneration big?
Compared to Europe and the US, you get peanuts on Indian TV. One can get double the money, making commercials in Europe.

Have you seen the original Got Talent?
Yeah, when I was in New York. There was this woman –– I can’t remember her name — who became a big star after the show started airing.

Simon Cowell, the original judge, was pretty abrasive. Will you be nicer?
I’m an honest guy. As a filmmaker I’ve been auditioning for years. I’d decided to cast Preity Zinta in Ta Ra Rum Pum Pum after seeing a thousand girls. How do you reject a thousand for that one? That’s the way it will be on this show too.

Will there be tears.. drama?
There’s bound to be a good dose of real life drama. That’s interesting for everyone, including the media. It also depends how you interpret it. Just as you can’t sell news without headlines, television can’t sell shows without drama.
There’s this show in the U S, where the guy peeks into people’s bedrooms.. it’s a huge hit. But I’m more interested in the real problems.. in knowing how the spirit conquers adversity.

If someone on the show impresses you, would you cast him or her in a movie?
Sure. Any director judging a reality show would.

What kind of talent are you looking for?
I’ll be a voyeur to people’s lives.. experience their adventure. I’ve told the channel guys not to brief me in advance.. I want to see it first hand, so I can judge contestants fairly. We have a great tradition of nautanki in Indian villages, out of which Bollywood was born.

Apparently, your film, Paani, has ran into rough waters following your differences with Manmohan Shetty.
Paani is definitely happening, I’m financing it myself. Manmohan Shetty is a friend.. he’ll help me if I run into trouble.

And the 'Mr India' sequel?
I’ve written the story but Anil (Kapoor) is busy with his show abroad. My guess is that he won’t be back for a couple of years. You could argue about a younger actor to replace him but when you think of Mr India, only Anil comes to mind. You just can’t make the movie without him. Another character that will be difficult to match is Mogambo.

Anurag Basu will be directing the sequel.. why not you?
If Anurag wants to direct it, why not? I’ve written the script and directed it once. I can’t do it again.