UTV Stars is the new movie-themed channel on air and claims it is Bollywood's official channel. Does this mean that it has the blessings of all the big Bollywood stars and directors and won't show or report 'false' / 'misleading' stories? (Read 'fabricated' stories about 'link-ups;' who fabricates these stories though is another story altogether). But you know what I'm referring to - those tabloid and fanzine reports about how so-and-so star is supposed to have got "very cosy" with some other star on the sets of a film, resulting in the two of them going off on "long drives together" (for some reason, long drives are the height of romance for Bollywood stars.).
It seems unlikely that a movie channel will not have its share of gossipy news. At the moment though, the real high points of UTV Stars are two shows called Up Close and Personal With PZ (pronounced P Zee in the show promos) and Live My Life.
In Up Close and Personal, PZ (Preity Zinta) interviews film celebrities, joining the ranks of TV hosts like Karan Johar and Simi Garewal. But her show is quite different. In India's Most Desirable, Simi Garewal cross-questions her guests (in her signature genteel Convent-girl style, complete with tinkling laughter) about what they're really like, their relationships, their innermost feelings and so on and so forth.
Koffee with Karan, on the other hand, is always high on the masala meter, triggering off enough controversies to keep every tabloid in the country buzzing for weeks.
PZ stays firmly in cute/giggly mode, recalling cute/giggly anecdotes with her guests (when Farhan Akhtar was afraid of a cockroach/when she and Saif Ali Khan stole Arjun Rampal's bronzer during a world tour etc). We've watched PZ being bubbly on the big screen for many years; now we can watch her being bubbly on the small screen (hopefully not for as many years though).
The only resemblance is that like Karan (I'm not so sure about Simi), most of the people on PZ's show are her best buddies, so when she interviews them, it is more like chatting with pals than a question-answer session. (The show itself is produced by Shah Rukh Khan's television company, so it's all quite cosy).
Of the three hosts, my vote would go to Karan - for many reasons. To give just one - I like that wicked 'oh-really?' look he gets whenever his guests say something particularly hard to swallow (there was one episode with Rani Mukherjee where the actress gave the most saintly answers to every question).
In Live My Life, a star's 'biggest' fan gets to live the life of his/her favourite star for 24 hours. For instance, Priyanka Chopra's besotted fan (a girl called Tripti from Bareilly), goes to Mumbai, has lunch in Priyanka's favourite restaurant, shops at Priyanka's favourite shop, meets Priyanka's latest director, even does some action stunts like Priyanka (ending up with a twisted ankle) and finally, after all this, gets to meet the star herself.
One of the nicest parts about UTV Stars: the large chunks of time where the channel shows songs without any ad breaks. 9XM also shows songs but they are constantly interrupted by its vast array of allegedly funny animated characters.
And finally. The weekend is looking quite packed with reality shows. There's the finale of Just Dance (Star Plus). The beginning of Dancing With the Stars (BBC Entertainment). And the start of Bigg Boss (Colors), with a double whammy as far as hosts are concerned - there's Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan. Now that should be worth watching.