Celeb judges swarm the small screen
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Celeb judges swarm the small screen

Urmila Matondkar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kunal Kohli are some of Bollywood figures set to play celebrity judges on TV reality shows.

india Updated: Aug 22, 2006 18:59 IST

What do Urmila Matondkar, Shilpa Shetty, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kunal Kohli and Alka Yagnik have in common? Apart from being from Bollywood, they also are the celebrity judges of TV reality shows.

If Urmila was recently named as one of the judges of Sahara One’s reality show, Super Stars then Shilpa is the latest entrant on Sony’s celeb-dancer show Jhalak Dikkhla Jaa (JDJ).

Sanjay Leela Bhansali too is a JDJ judge while Kohli who’s riding high on the successes of his films Hum Tum and Fanaa has joined choreographer Saroj Khan and hottie Malaika Arora Khan for the second season of Nach Baliye.

Singers Alka Yagnik and Abhijeet grade little kids on Zee’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs.

Suddenly, Bollywood stars, lyricists, music directors, wannabes, has-beens and anybody who can add a bit of glam quotient are being lapped up by channels. ‘Celebrity judges’ seem to be an exciting alternative career option, not to forget it being a highly lucrative one.

What’s more, the Bollywood biradari gets to do something that’s in line with their area of interest. And with more and more reality shows knocking Indian television doors, the makers and channels could possibly never fall short of celebrity judges.

The whole idea as a creative head puts it “is to make the show attractive and add to its value.” If last year Nach Baliye had viewers discover there is more to director Farhan Akhtar than just his cult film Dil Chahta Hai, this year Kohli steps into his shoes.

Says Sameer Nair, CEO, Star Entertainment India, “Farhan would have loved to be part of this again but he was very busy with his film Don. Besides, Kohli has a great success record and is just right to bring his own charm to the show.” While earlier Farah Khan ‘mothered’ the contestants of Indian Idol, she reprises her role of judge for JDJ.

Meanwhile, Star TV’s reality show of celebrities with professional singers slated for a telecast later this year will soon announce their judges of the show and needless to say Bollywood will figure again big time.

Nair had once said, “It’s all about using the star in the best possible way. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship. While the show benefits from the star’s presence and his experience, the show too should be such that it matches his or her calibre.”

For instance when there was a rumour last year of every possible channel ‘in talks’ with Shah Rukh Khan for a show, Nair had candidly said, “He is a diamond and of a rare quality and so the gold you set it in, should be of the finest quality. If we want to do a show with Shah Rukh Khan we would obviously not waste him on just any show.”

According to an industry insider, another reason why even Bollywood no longer looks down upon its small cousin, is, “TV keeps you constantly in public eye and if the show a star is doing gets popular then it only adds to the enormous publicity and print space they get courtesy their presence on it.

For instance, an Anu Malik or a Farah Khan who probably didn’t enjoy as much recognition with their behind-the-scenes professions, would have got a lot of exposure for being part of Indian Idol.

The same holds true for Urmila and Shilpa who are not doing too many films yet are complete star material to grace any show. Also, Amitabh Bachchan and Kaun Banega Crorepati have definitely changed the way Bollywood looks at TV. Everybody has woken up to the reach of television.”

Besides, these stars get to do something that really interests them. For example a choreographer like Saroj Khan is only appropriate to judge a dance show like Nach Baliye or a singer like Sonu Nigam who’s associated with a singing show like Indian Idol.

Urmila on her new role of a judge had said during the launch of Super Stars, “I would like to believe that judging a show like this is an extension of my career as an actor. Since the show requires me to judge a complete performer, my being here is natural.”

And with Bollywood stars doing everything from ramp shows to stage shows, donning the hat of a ‘celebrity judge’ had to happen sooner than later.

First Published: Aug 22, 2006 12:24 IST