ZEE launches talent hunt, India's Best - Cinestars Ki Khoj

By , agencyfaqs! | In | April 22, 2004
The launch of movie talent hunt shows such as India's Best and Superstar could well mark the beginning of another phase in the history of Indian television programming

In the 1960s, United Producers, in association with Filmfare, had launched a nationwide talent hunt (though on a small scale) that resulted in the discovery of two actors who subsequently went on to become two of Hindi mainstream cinema's biggest box-office draws in the 70s - Dharmendra and Rajesh Khanna.

Given the fact that youngsters, through generations, harbour a latent desire of becoming film stars, and given the fact that the film industry is constantly scouting for fresh faces, it's but natural that somebody, somewhere would latch onto the idea of organizing another national-level talent hunt to unearth a fresh crop of actors. The country's No 3 Hindi entertainment channel, ZEE TV, is one company that has also hit upon the idea, and is leveraging it to the fullest by marrying it to a programming initiative. The channel is launching India's Best - Cinestars Ki Khoj, a nationwide talent hunt that would be televised in 16 weekly episodes, starting August 2004.

Aspirant actors can participate in the talent hunt through a ground event that kicks off on May 18. The event would travel 20 cities across the country, beginning with Agra. Following the initial elimination round (which would comprise a screen test, followed by a one-on-one), 80 candidates would be shortlisted, four from each of the 20 cities. The second round would be an open event, where shortlisted candidates would have to go through a series of selection rounds.

From the 80 aspirants in the second round, 32 would make it to the final stages of grooming, to be held in Mumbai. Eventually, two participants (one male and one female) would emerge the India's Best Cinestars. The lucky pair would be launched in a Hindi film that boasts a lineup of stars such as Sunny Deol, Preity Zinta, Salman Khan and Bhumika Chawla, who have been roped in for India's Best. Indians residing outside the country can also participate in the contest, and the channel has created a website ( that hosts all information pertaining to the contest.

India's Best, which was conceived six months ago, was more of a logical progression of the events ZEE TV is already involved in. "ZEE Network has for a long time been associated with filmmaking, with blockbusters such as Gadar - Ek Prem Katha," explains Sunil Khanna, president ZEE TV. "We already are in the business of producing films. Then, of course, cinema remains the perpetual source of inspiration and entertainment for Indians, who, at some stage in their lives, dream of being film stars. All these factors led to the idea of a movie talent hunt show, a show that is going to be the biggest talent hunt show in the country." The word 'biggest' of course pertains to the staggering investments being sunk into the show - the channel plans to invest an estimated Rs 90-100 crore in India's Best, which would include the production cost of two movies in the pipeline.

The launch of movie talent hunt shows could well mark the beginning of another phase in the history of Indian television programming. While the much-cloned Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) triggered the play-for-big-money gameshow genre, talent hunt shows could spark a change in programming. With India's Best coming close on the heels of STAR Plus' Superstar (a talent hunt show slated to go on air in May-June this year) and MTV's still hush-hush talent hunt, it appears as if television channels are keen on breaking the monotony imposed by the family dramas. Competition is bound to hot up once the shows go on air. "While I do not know about the others, our contest is going to be on a very large scale. I don't think anybody has ever done it at that level," Khanna says confidently.

Talent hunts, per se, aren't new. Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd (ABCL) was the first to launch a talent hunt show in an organized manner - it's a different story that ABCL subsequently went bankrupt and the project was shelved. It was, however, a series of music talent hunt shows that formally established the genre in India. While CHannel [V]'s intelligently marketed Popstars was the first to break the 'stage show' format by taking the hunt into the streets (resulting in the creation of troupes such as Viva and Asma), it was ZEE that can take the credit for putting the genre into orbit with its show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. In fact, the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Golden Voice Hunt was launched on April 29, 2003, and speaking about the show, Khanna points out, "Sa Re Ga Ma Pa has been a great success, and outnumbers Popstars' participation. Shreya Ghosal (who has lent her voice for successful Hindi movies such as Devdas and Jism) Sanjeevani, Shweta Pandit and Parthiv Gohil were discovered by Sa Re Ga Ma Pa."

In an industry that is predominantly ruled by 'star sons and star daughters' and beauty pageant winners, movie talent hunts such as India's Best and Superstar offer those from a non-film background a real chance at gaining entry into tinsel town. As for the television channels, the question clearly is, could these shows be the next big programming idea? © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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