IPL teams hunt for cheerleaders on TV

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | February 05, 2009
Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are the star campaigners from the two teams, Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings, respectively

The inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008 redefined the way the game is played and watched by cricket lovers. The owners and promoters alike introduced several innovations to attract audiences to the short and quick version of cricket.

The most talked about and hotly debated issue throughout Season 1 related to the cheerleaders roped in by the individual IPL teams. As was the case last year, for the second edition too, the focus is on adding extra fun and glamour to the teams.

Both & #BANNER1 & # Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have launched a hunt for cheerleaders on television. KKR, owned by actor Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment, has decided to go ahead with a reality show, Knights and Angels, on NDTV Imagine, to choose people for its cheerleading squad.

The squad will be handpicked by none other than the captain of the team, Sourav Ganguly.

The show's promos, being aired on NDTV Imagine, feature Ganguly exhorting enthusiastic fans to rise to the war cry of "Korbo, Lorbo, Jeetbo" ("will do, will fight, will win") to be part of the cheerleading squad.

The auditions for the reality show will be held in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru. The auditions are open to females up to 18 years of age, whether Indian or foreign nationals.

In the first phase, participants are being asked to perform a dance on a song of their choice. In the later stages of the selection process, the girls will be selected on the basis of their sporting spirit, dance, drama, glamour and the killer instinct they display.

India Cements, the owner of Chennai Super Kings, is also banking upon two talent hunt shows on Tamil general entertainment channel, STAR Vijay TV to scout for prospective talent to cheer its team for the matches.

In a promo airing on STAR Vijay TV, CSK captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, clad in the team jersey, rattles off lines in typical Tamil film style. Amidst much frenzy and with a signature hand gesture, he says, "Dhoni.. MS Dhoni… Chennai Super Kings Junior yaar? Namma Vijay TV paar!"

Dhoni is calling all CSK fans, who aspire to be cheerleaders, to come forward and participate in a talent hunt on the channel.

Commenting on the tie-up with STAR Vijay TV, Rakesh Singh, head, marketing, India Cements, says, "We have a two-fold objective in partnering with the channel. First, we are looking at ways of engaging and maximising the participation of the followers with the team. Second, the idea is to create and generate hype for our team in the second season of the game. The two TV hunt shows, Chennai Super Kings Juniors and Chennai Super Kings Cheerleaders will help us achieve these objectives."

Singh explains that the effort is to hunt for the genuine well-wishers and supporters of the CSK team through the two shows.

India Cements decided to go ahead with STAR Vijay TV for two reasons. First, it is a Tamil language channel, and thus, the ideal medium to promote the CSK team. Second, the channel is an old hand when it comes to talent hunt shows, with successful properties, such as Amul Ungalil Yaar Adutha Prabhudheva, the dance reality show and Kalaka Povathu Yaar, the Tamil version of the Great Indian Laughter Challenge.

It was STAR Vijay TV that approached India Cements with the concept for the two shows. The hunt for cheerleaders for the team will be a 10-episode series, where young boys and girls will display their dancing and cheerleading skills to find a place in the official cheerleading squad for CSK in all the games played by them in IPL. The series will be aired starting February 20, every Friday at 10 pm on STAR Vijay TV.

The second property - the hunt for junior team of the CSK, a 20-episode series, will involve children in the age-group of 8-12 years displaying some basic cricket skills for being recognised as the CSK Juniors. The 11 winners emerging from a number of round-robin cricket matches will get the privilege of sitting in the pavilion to watch all the IPL matches played by CSK. The auditions for these cricket matches will be held at Chennai, Coimbatore and Trichy.

K Sriram, general manager, STAR Vijay TV, says, "As a Tamil GEC, we are in a position to leverage our presence in the cricket crazy state of Tamil Nadu, to create the required hype and mass support for the CSK team. We are using the much-loved game of cricket as an entry point to offer more entertaining fare for our viewers. The shorter version of the game was lapped up by women and kids. This further helps us in establishing and taking forward the brand CSK by weaving general entertainment content with cricket."

Both the shows will attempt to capture the aspirations and dreams of children and their families, thus appealing to a large section of audiences.

In addition to Dhoni, Vijay TV will rely on other CSK team members and associates, such as V.B.Chandrasekar, Badrinath, L.Balaji, Krishnamachari Srikanth and the leader of the bandwagon, Drums Sivamani, to promote the two talent hunt shows on Vijay TV and other platforms.

Meanwhile, Actress Shilpa Shetty and her business associate Raj Kundra, who have recently bought a 12 per cent stake in the IPL team, Rajasthan Royals are also rumoured to be using television extensively for promoting the team. In various reports, Shetty suggested being interested in extensively using videos for television promos. Watch this space as more action unfolds on this pitch.

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