Sach Ka Saamna on STAR Plus revels in Satyameva Jayate

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | July 10, 2009
The show is an adaptation of the American game show, the Moment of Truth, whose format is owned by Lighthearted Entertainment

The GEC space, of late, has been flooded with new launches across channels.

STAR Plus is also getting ready for some exciting launches, the first in the series being the game show, Sach Ka Saamna, which will debut on July 15.

Sach Ka Saamna is the Indian version of the immensely popular American game show, The Moment of Truth, which debuted on Fox network on January 23, 2008. The format of the show is owned by television production company, Lighthearted Entertainment.

Howard Schultz, president, Lighthearted Entertainment is the producer of the original show. After the grand success of the show, the format has already been replicated in as many as 23 countries, including the UK, Spain, Brazil, Germany, France and Italy.

Speaking to afaqs!, Keertan Adyanthaya, executive vice-president and general manager, STAR Plus, says, "The Moment of Truth is a proven success story around the globe. We are hopeful that for us, too, it will go on to be another path-breaking, emotionally charged property. The core value of the show is based on the shining Indian principle of Satyameva Jayate (The Truth Alone Triumphs). The programme will be a platform that values the courage exhibited by people, in accepting and sharing some pleasant and some not-so-pleasant truths about their lives."

Sach Ka Saamna will put participants through a round of 21 questions. Contestants are free to leave the show at any level, when they think that the questions are too hot to handle. However, the participant has to call it quits before the next level of question is posed by the host, in order to leave the show with the money earned by giving truthful answers to the previous questions. Also, an incorrect answer in successive levels of the game will disqualify the participant from progressing to further rounds.

The answers given by the contestants will be judged to be true or false by a polygraph machine that senses the anxiety and excitement levels of an individual, in order to determine whether a person is telling the truth.

The show is being produced by the Siddhartha Basu's production house, Big Synergy. In the past, the production house has given the channel some of its most exciting, popular and big properties, including Kaun Banega Crorepati and Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hai.

The host of the show is actor, Rajeev Khandelwal, who is credited with the popular Balaji Telefilms show, Kahiin To Hoga and critically acclaimed UTV production, Aamir.

Commenting on the entertainment value of the show, Khandelwal shares, "The format of the show includes a good mix of celebrities and common people on the hot seat; the personal and probing question combined with frank and, at times, touching or humorous answers by the participants - all add up to the entertainment quotient of the show."

The actor makes it clear that the show is, in no way, like a sting operation, as it is not meant to unnecessarily display the lives of participants on the show. Rather, he is hopeful that the experience of unburdening oneself of some well-kept secrets might prove to be a catharsis for some of the contestants.

However, he admits since the programme is being promoted on the lines of 'Sachchai Ki Agnipariksha', the questions have to be tough and probing, in order to induce interest and stress in participants.

The questions on the show include 'Have you ever stolen bedsheets from a hotel?' 'Have you ever raised a hand on your husband' and 'Has the thought of killing somebody in a fit of rage occurred to you?'

Ashish Limaye, general manager, marketing, Starcom MediaVest Group is of the view that as far as the concept of the show is concerned, it's a bold experiment by the channel. The show's concept is more likely to appeal to an evolved audience, who is more inclined towards introspection. He explains, "Since the show is scheduled at 10:30 pm, it is positioned to attract even male viewers, who, after their share of news around 9 pm, would be on the lookout for some relaxing and entertaining fare."

According to him, the international format of the show alone is not a guarantee for a successful show. Instead, factors such as the ability of a given format to engage people contribute to the popularity of the show. In that sense, the show has a novelty factor to it.

Sach Ka Saamna will have 50 episodes of 30 minutes each. Adyanthaya informs that when it comes to participants, the show will have a ratio of 25 to 75 in favour of celebrity contestants and common people.

The celebrities participating in the show include ex-cricketer, Vinod Kambli; TV actress, Urvashi Dholakia and TV-Bollywood artiste, Bobby Darling.

Sejal Shah, vice-president, West and South - India Media Exchange, believes that the programme is not being considered as a driver property by the channel. But without doubt, being a format show, it is more important property than a daily soap. The channel, perhaps, has its eyes set on soon to be announced properties, such as the travel show, Maha Yatra.

However, Shah admits, "As a concept, the show holds promise, because we Indians are an inquisitive lot. We do not respect the privacy of those around us and are, in general, quite public about our lives."

On the10:30 pm slot, the show will face competition from Na Aana is Desh Laado on Colors and Kitani Mohabbat Hai on NDTV Imagine.

The biggest reservation that media observers have about the show is that due to the demanding nature of the format, where people have to speak only the truth, many celebrities might give it a miss. This could be a shortcoming, because, in general, big ticket game shows ride on the strength of celebrity value.

As far as the host of the show is concerned, many in the industry acknowledge that Khandelwal has a mass as well as an elite appeal. His popular show, Kahiin To Hoga is responsible for his popularity amongst the masses and his credible performance in Aamir has won him elite admirers. His personality cuts across age-groups and this could prove to be a big advantage for the show.

The show is being heavily promoted by STAR Plus on its network channels. Outdoor media has also been used extensively.

Media planners point out clever planning by the channel in making the game show a five-day affair and putting it in the 10:30 pm slot. Anamika Mehta, chief operating officer, Lodestar Universal Media is of the opinion that the unique concept makes it a family show, attracting both women and men.

She points out, "The channel appears to be attempting what Colors did by airing Fear Factor - Khatron Ke Khiladi at 10:30 pm. It is a well established primetime slot, and not long ago, STAR Plus had its biggest success story, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi dominating this time band."

Adyanthaya is hopeful that the show will be a different experience for the Indian audiences and STAR Plus will strike gold once more, with novel and differentiated content, as it did with its last big offering, Aap Ki Kachehri.

Tongue-in-cheek, he remarks, "The episodes shot so far reveal that a lot of Indians do have interesting lives."

Atrayee Chakraborty, business director, Lintas Media Group, comments on the fortunes of the show. "Among the plethora of reality shows currently on air, it seems that STAR Plus has managed to come up with a nice, new concept for the Indian masses. I would expect this show to garner good ratings, anywhere between 3.0 - 3.5 TVR, owing to its novelty factor and interesting content of unveiling someone's best kept secrets."

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