I continue to be fascinated by Khatron Ke Khiladi (Colors). Watching the girls do all those hair-raising stunts is enough to make my, well, hair stand on end. They jump off the twelfth floor of high-rise buildings, have big furry spiders crawling all over their face, sit in cars which are then dropped into a lake, hobnob with scary-looking lizards.... (What kind of fiendish brain thinks up these stunts? I remember a particular episode of Fear Factor - on which Khatron Ke Khiladi is based — where participants had to actually eat a worm).
<b1>I don’t think anybody shed too many tears for Meghna Naidu as she bid a tearful goodbye to the other participants in the early episodes. It takes only a single episode for audiences to work out which contestant they like and which one seems like a bore. At present, Yana Gupta and Pooja Bedi are both surprisingly good and very popular.
Of the two, Yana is prettier and Pooja is poutier but what they both have in common is an astonishing level of courage. This is one of those shows where you stop noticing what the contestants look like and focus on their personalities. Unlike most reality shows where nakhras are welcome, this one has a no-nonsense air about it. And bravery always wins the day.
I had wondered about Akshay as the host. Even if the stories about his stupendous fee (over one crore an episode) were untrue, he seemed to lack the easy charm of a Salman Khan or the quick wit of a Shah Rukh. But in fact, this format is made for somebody with Akshay’s straightforward personality. The anchor does not have to clown around or flirt with the contestants. He has merely to keep the show on the road. And Akshay is quite brilliant at doing that.
Early results suggest that Colors has made a more impressive debut than the other recently launched Hindi entertainment channels. The big numbers are coming from Khatron ke Khiladi which seems to be growing in popularity with each episode.
When it ends, the channel is supposed to launch Bigg Boss 2 with Shilpa Shetty in the same slot to try and retain the viewers.
If the strategy works, then Colors is home and dry. And it will probably be the last successful thing that the one-time couple of Akshay Kumar and Shilpa Shetty will have managed together.
There was a time, a year or so ago, when it seemed inevitable that Zee TV would overtake Star Plus. Then Zee’s momentum halted and Star Plus got its act together again. Though Zee is still a credible number two, far ahead of number three (usually Sony but the position is up for grabs), it poses no real threat to Star Plus.
Its management has claimed that a new slate of programming will make Zee take another leap and re-emerge as a challenger to Star Plus. Part of this master plan was unveiled recently with the launch of Smriti Irani’s Waaris.
From what I’ve seen of the show so far, there is a certain element of déjà vu. We have all been here before. A film title adapted for a TV serial. The ethos of a certain style of cinema translated to the small screen. A strong Godfather-like central character. The adventures of his family. And so on.
Irani has done this unsuccessfully in the past, most notably with Mere Apne which many people thought borrowed the style of Vinod Khanna’s later films (think Dayavan) for a serial about a Banaras-based Godfather. This time, Ashish Vidyarthi stands in for Khanna and the ethos owes a certain something to Ramgopal Varma’s films.
It’s hard to say whether the show will work. But still, it does make a change from the rest of the stuff on Zee TV. And if it does mark a change in the programming style, then this may not be a bad thing at all.