Hrithik Roshan turns host for Discovery's show on 'real life heroes'

By Shweta Mulki , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | October 26, 2015
"We are pushing the boundaries on India-related production" - Rahul Johri.

In its new series 'HRX Heroes with Hrithik Roshan,' Discovery Channel will salute the determination and triumph of real life heroes. Roshan, who will present the show turns first time anchor on television.

The nine-part series, will present the real life stories of individuals 'who had very little going for them, but did not give up on their dreams and emerged as heroes'. It will premiere on November 2nd, and air on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9 pm on Discovery Channel, with a repeat on Saturdays and Sundays at 8 pm. The show has reportedly locked in some sponsors, but the names were not revealed at this point.

Rahul Johri (third from left) and Hrithik Roshan with the 'heroes'

The nine heroes whose lives will be showcased are Harshini Kanhekar (India's first female fire engineer, who graduated from an 'all male' college), Kalpana Saroj (wedded at an early age, and subjected to abuse, she is a celebrated entrepreneur), Navin Gulia (prolific adventurer who was paralysed in an accident), Saji Thomas (congenitally deaf and mute, he built his own aircraft), Sangram Singh (became a champion wrestler after overcoming rheumatoid arthritis), Sudha Chandran (lost a limb, and is now an accomplished actor and dancer), Shekhar Naik (visually impaired, he captained the winning team at the Blind Cricket World Cup 2014), Subhreet Kaur (had a tough childhood and lost a leg in an accident, but is now a known dancer) and Virender Singh (known as the most successful deaf athlete).

Rahul Johri and Hrithik Roshan​

Rahul Johri, EVP and GM-South Asia, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific said, "HRX Heroes with Hrithik Roshan is an outstanding series that salutes the undying spirit of real life heroes. I am confident that Hrithik Roshan's popularity will motivate millions to discover the hero in them." Why this show? He replies, "Discovery is all about true stories, and this show is a straightforward fit."

Speaking about the channel, and on factual entertainment, Johri says, "The biggest sub-genre within factual, is 'survival', and this is something the current generation wants to watch. Also, as far as Indian programming is concerned we've gone up to 100 hours of India related programming now. Our shows take much longer time, so to take up that level of production locally is a huge step." He adds, "We are getting great response. Our show on Rashtrapati Bhavan, for instance, has become the highest rated show for us in 20 years, due to our exclusive access to the place. We now have one on A.R.Rahman coming up, and that's been shot over two years. There have also been shows wildlife in India, on the elections, on the National Defence Academy etc. We have a lot more on the pipeline, and we are pushing the boundaries on our Indian productions".

When asked how the long production time affects the costs of shows, Johri says, "The kind of shows we do require detailed research, and a good amount of production time. Our job is to put in the money, and sign off on a show which will come out three years later. We need to ensure that it is as relevant and gripping on the day it is ready. Also there is a mix - the show on yoga for instance, took only three months but it was shot across 17 different locations across the world with many teams. But every show is a well-crafted piece of art, and has longevity."

The bulk of the channel's viewers are in their twenties, but producers of the network usually target the 18-35 year old segment when creating shows. Also, in over twenty years of their existence in India, how have audiences' preferences evolved? Johri says, "We started with wildlife, then we went into ancient history, and to 'building' technology, and later, the viewers wanted to see our vision for the future. Today there is a demand for technology and wildlife too. India too has been interwoven into the channel in a big way".

HRX, Hrithik Roshan's 'lifestyle apparel' brand is about being fit-in mind and body, and that was reportedly seen by the actor and the channels' team as a good brand fit for the show. Launching the series, Roshan said, "I wish to spread the belief that it is possible to look adversity in the face, and emerge victorious by overcoming it. The show will bring to focus these incredible real life stories which the entire nation needs to admire."

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