Even as STAR Plus gears up to launch an ambitious talent hunt programme, titled Indian Superstar, this year, competition is in the offing with rival channel Sahara Manoranjan joining hands with celebrity and event management company Percept D'Mark, to present a nation-wide talent hunt titled Mr and Miss Bollywood.
To be kicked off on March 9, 2004, the talent hunt has three stages - call for entries, auditions and screen tests - aimed at bridging the gap between the demand for fresh faces and the supply of new talent. As Alan Mans, president, films, Percept D'Mark, who is in charge of the event, explains, "We (the Percept Group) are into the feature-film business and understand the dearth of talent in the industry. For the approximately 200 production houses and 500 feature-film directors, there are only about eight-10 bankable stars available. Clearly, there is a demand-supply gap that can be bridged," he says.
In addition to the demand-supply equation, the sheer mechanics of the business, especially, the star remuneration system, implies that producers are on the lookout for fresh faces to bring down needless escalation of costs. According to industry estimates, the money in rotation on the production side of the feature-film business is approximately Rs 1,800-Rs 2,000 crore at any given point in time. Hence, managing budgets and completing projects in a fixed period of time has gained ground in an industry slowly but steadily waking up to the need for fiscal discipline, maturity and professionalism.
As a senior media analyst based in Mumbai, explains, "Big stars have big pay packets, which means a significant portion of a producer's budget goes towards star-fees, not-to-mention the cost of making a film, which is over and above this huge expense. With new faces the producer can curtail needless budgetary escalation, not to mention that viewers get an opportunity to sample something different altogether."
Talent hunt programmes over the years have been identified as a sure-fire route to spotting new faces. Cine star Dharmendra, for instance, made his entry into feature-films via a talent hunt programme. However, industry captains have frequently debated about the efficacy of the selection process, since, physical attributes normally score over sheer acting prowess during a talent hunt.
Mans says that an advisory board - comprising Bollywood heavyweights such as Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt, Asha Parekh, Raveena Tandon, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Smita Thackeray, Sarika, Ken Ghosh, Ashok Salian and Manish Malhotra - was constituted to devise the format of Mr and Miss Bollywood. "There will be a separate set of jurors who will whittle down candidates during the audition stage to a figure of 300, and a separate set to travel to different cities during the screen-tests," he explains.
Seven cities have been selected for the talent hunt - Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore and Chandigarh - and the final lot of 30 selected from the 300 shortlisted candidates will be given appropriate breaks in movies and serials based on their performance in 10 short films, shot with renowned filmmakers. The event will be televised in the month of June on Sahara Manoranjan, and the total number of entrants into Bollywood will be six, while the balance will be roped in for projects on television, adds Mans. © 2004 agencyfaqs!