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‘No jhooth mooth ka drama'

Shabana Azmi on her tryst with reality TV, movies and royal invitation, interviewed by Roshmila Bhattacharya.
Hindustan Times | By Roshmila Bhattacharya, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2008 12:47 PM IST

Since your special appearances on Indian Idol and Voice of India, you must have been inundated with offers from reality shows. What made you zero in on Kaun Jeetega Bollywood Ka Ticket?
The USP of this show is that it offers equal opportunity to contestants from all parts of the country Also, it comes with a concrete offer which will result in a film production. But music reality shows too have offered playback contracts. Yet winners grouse that after the initial euphoria, they are forgotten. I don't know why they should feel this way since these shows have launched alternate careers. Even if they don't make it as playback singers they get invited to stage shows all the time.

What does the winning couple have to look forward to, apart from a movie with Popcorn Entertainment and Balaji Telefilms?
A bright future. With stars hard-pressed for dates and phenomenal money coming in from corporates, the film industry needs new talent.

Not just the winning couple, even others stand a good chance of getting absorbed into show business. Kaun Jeetega.. will pit 12 non-actors against 12 TV actors, some of them familiar names like Chetan Hansraj and Reshmi Ghosh.

Won't the latter start out with an undue advantage?
We are aware of this. The contestants who are less exposed to the medium will get the benefit of doubt.

Why did you choose to mentor the east zone?
It wasn't my decision but it works for me. I was fortunate to work with some of Bengal's masters, from Satyajit Ray and Tapan Sinha to Mrinal Sen and Goutam Ghose.

I've received a lot of love and respect from the region. And now being a trained actor, I want my group to benefit from my knowledge and experience. The other three judges are Zeenat Aman, Amrita Singh and Mahesh Manjrekar.

You make a motley group.
The idea was to get together a cross-section of people drawn from mainstream Hindi cinema who can spot a star. We're looking for an all-round package.

Since the couple will be launched in a commercial film, they won't be judged on acting talent alone but their dancing skills, and screen presence.

Most reality shows start with good intentions. Mid-way through, in an effort to boost TRPs, they resort to staged gimmicks. Will we see this kind of tu tu main main on your show too?
Anything that is staged is effective only as long as the audience doesn't realise what is happening. Nobody is here to change society.

The idea is to entertain but there will be no jhooth mooth ka drama. We have been engaged to express our opinion, which we will. All four of us will meet in advance so we can be in sync.

Your husband Javed Akhtar's Indian Idol will also be returning for a fourth season. Will you watch each other's shows, offer opinions?
I hadn't thought about this before but now that you have brought it up, it's definitely a thought.

Any more reality shows?
Talks are on for other shows but it's too early to disclose details.

What about films?
I'm shooting for Anubhav Sinha's political comedy Zindabad! I play the owner of a TV channel. It's a great script. There are two more movies coming up.

Onir's Sorry Bhai is your next release. Didn't your co-star Chitrangada Singh remind you of Smita Patel?
Chitrangada has a beautiful face.. the camera loves it. She will do very well in the film industry. You're supposed to be leaving for London soon.

Another international production?
No, Javed and I have received a personal invite from the Buckingham Palace. During the course of our two-day trip, Prince Charles will have discussions with Mukesh Ambani, Laxmi Mittal, Ratan Tata and us about which charities to support in India.

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