Why did you opt for Mini Mathur as the host?
She’s one of the most skilled and seasoned hosts we have. She’s bright, well informed and charming. She conducts the show entertainingly. She’s comfortable speaking in Hindi. As a host, she enjoys the quiz, and brings it alive in her own style.
Are you trying to create another Mandira Bedi?
Nope. Mini has been an accomplished host way before Mandira became one.
Reportedly Big Synergy is also producing the desi version of AXN’s Top Chef with Akshay Kumar.
No, it’s definitely not us.
Apparently, even Aamir Khan is doing a reality show with a social cause for your company.
It’s all in the realm of speculation. Of course, I’d love to do a great show with him whenever that’s possible. He’s a powerful star and someone I really wish to work with.
Which star-host out of Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan are you particularly fond of?
Each one I’ve worked with and for different reasons. I’m not picking up anyone’s names.
Do you feel that there is vacuum for a quiz show on TV after Kaun Banega Crorepati ended?
There’s been a fair bit of quiz shows, but without taking names, I can say nothing quite on that scale.
In hindsight, what do you think of the only Bollywood quiz show India had, Bollywood Ka Boss?
Bollywood ka Boss on Filmy was an original quiz format developed by us, seeking to find the ultimate Hindi movie buff. It was a fully filmy contest for those who love Hindi movies.
Why had you chosen Boman Irani for a host?
Boman is not only a fantastic entertainer; he’s also a big Bollywood fan and is extraordinarily well informed about Hindi movies.
In terms of creating reality TV content, do you think we lack creativity?
Not really. Creativity needs to be nurtured. It’s the quick fix and quick buck culture that’s anti-creative. We could do with more commitment, patience and resources to develop more novel and varied programmes. We need to differentiate between world-class shows, which bring the best of the world to India in an honest and creative way, and those that are rip-offs.
Today, every channel runs a reality show. Isn’t this mod mentality in any way?
Whether its reality, talent shows, soaps or whatever, the ones that stand out are those that have that connect with the viewers with that special something to mark them out from the herd.
Though reality shows are said to be ‘in’, daily soaps continue to be the real TRP kings. High time we have an only-women reality show?
Talent shows and contests can act as tent-poles which help lift channel shares overall. There are enough all-women unreality shows by way of soaps, and the crying need is for those that are more inclusive.
How about doing that with housewives?
I suspect that even housewives are interested in shows that don’t only have more of their own kind.
How about locking up real life couples for a week in their own house?
It would mainly be for peeping toms fascinated with spying on people in unnatural situations. I’d rather fly with those who are free.
Do you think appearing on TV affects the popularity of an actor?
The reach of TV is massive and goes into every home every day. The right person on the right show would be watched and admired by more people on TV, than in any film. Though TV is doing great, there are plenty of actors who consider it down market.Which actor of any size, substance or intelligence is averse to a TV appearance? Films give them a larger than life image and a certain value, but they know that TV is the most powerful force-multiplier, commercially much bigger and more stable. Ideally they’d like to keep going on both film and TV.
After the economic slowdown’s after-effects have subsided, there are several new channels expected to hit the airwaves. It’s in the hope of viewers and profits. Supply will need to match the demand. We’ll see a lot of desperate attempts to capture attention, but for the sake of our sanity and balance, I hope quality and the right values prevail.
You started off as a documentary filmmaker. Did commercial filmmaking ever cross your mind?
Sure. My kind of movies would be Lagaan (2001), Rang de Basanti (2006), Parineeta (2005), Omkara (2006), Namesake (2006), Life In A Metro (2007) and Chak De! India (2007). But for now, I just enjoy watching them. I don’t have dreams of making movies.
And lastly, which shows according to you made a difference to TV viewing from the onset till date apart from the ones that you’ve made?
Hum Log began the diet of daily soaps that led to Kyunki… and its clones. The World This Week led to the rash of 24x7 news channels. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa has been the mother of all talent shows.
You’re considered the father of quiz shows in India. What made you think, back then, that it would work?
I don’t know if that’s something that can stand up to a paternity test! I’m just happy to have been involved with the shows that pushed the limit of this genre. It all just came my way. I just gave it as good a shot, as I could, found people liked it, and went with it.
What is Sports Ka Superstar?
Sports Ka Superstar is a bi-weekly sports quiz, which will soon air on DD national, as one of the special programmes running up to the Commonwealth Games. It celebrates the awareness of a whole range of sports featured in the games and more. The format of the quiz is designed to allow only the best of the best to win.