Prachi Srivastava

Star Plus hunts for little chefs in India

The channel is replacing India's Dancing Superstar with Junior Masterchef.

After reality shows that have tested different abilities of kids, including singing (Voice of India, Chhote Ustaad - Do Deshon Ki Ek Awaaz), dancing (India's Dancing Superstar), talent (Kya Masti Kya Dhoom) and general knowledge (Kya Aap Panchvi Paas se Tez Hain?), Star Plus is exploring what is fresh territory for reality shows in India - the cooking skills of kids. With the upcoming season of Masterchef India titled 'Junior MasterChef - Swaad Ke Ustaad', the channel will provide an opportunity to kids to shine and amaze the world with their culinary skills and possibly drive their passion into a rewarding career.

Star Plus hunts for little chefs in India
Star Plus hunts for little chefs in India
It is learnt that Star Plus itself was apprehensive about the concept but when it conducted auditions for the show, the response took everyone by surprise!

Star Plus kids' music reality show Chhote Ustaad has been off-air for quite some time. Ashish Golwalkar, senior vice-president, programming (non-fiction), Star Plus, says, "There are shows - at times they work, at times they don't and when we discontinued Chhote Ustaad the space had become cluttered in singing as there were other shows. So we thought of getting something fresher and different for the kids and here we have Masterchef Junior. As a brand we are proud of Voice of India too and we will be reviving the show soon. One needs to give formats a bit of rest so that you can get them back with a bang."

Star Plus hunts for little chefs in India
Star Plus hunts for little chefs in India
Star Plus hunts for little chefs in India
Star Plus hunts for little chefs in India
Masterchef India is the Indian version of a competitive cooking game show based on the original British format, MasterChef. Junior Masterchef will replace Star Plus' dancing reality show, India's Dancing Superstar and will be aired on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 pm, starting August 17.

Being produced by Colosceum Media, the show will feature participants in the age group of 8-12 years. Chefs Vikas Khanna, Kunal Kapoor and Surjan Singh Jolly will be the celebrity judges on the show this season.

Rajiv Lakshman, creative head, entertainment, Colosceum, says, "This is the first time that cooking is breaking a new space. Any project we undertake we hope it works better than the earlier seasons or the parent property. At the same time, I don't think the core premise of the senior version will be compromised. Cooking in India is still an identity for a lot of women who are under-appreciated for this skill. Junior Masterchef is a differentiated new offering that other properties on competing channels need to be careful about."

The channel has already shot the auditions and will soon start shooting in the kitchen. There will be 10 contestants chosen for the kitchen round, who will eventually compete with each other for the title of Junior Masterchef.

The channel has once again got on board Amul as the presenting sponsor for the show. Meanwhile, Fiona, Pigeon and Yippee Noodles have been roped in as associate sponsors.

Star Plus is gearing up with the marketing of the show with a strong focus on television promotions. Nikhil Madhok, senior vice-president, marketing, Star Plus India, says, "The important message that we wanted to communicate this season is that this show is for the entire family and not just for kids. Also, we want to portray the kids as how they are today in real life - precocious and with attitude. Our promos, which have been created by Contract Advertising, showcase them very differently. Television, digital and on-ground are the three main legs of our marketing campaign, though we will be promoting the show on other media as well."

According to Madhok, Junior Masterchef will be promoted heavily on Star Network channels. The promos will also run across 22 channels outside the STAR bouquet. "Through this campaign we are reaching out to 75 per cent of India's TV population and at a healthy frequency," he adds.

On the digital medium, the channel will launch a Junior Masterchef app, wherein one can download recipes telecast on TV and can chat with the judges and contestants. Behind the scene footages will also be available on this app.

The channel has also created an app for Facebook in which the kids will quiz the users on their knowledge of food. Correct answers will gain points which can be redeemed for merchandise.

There is also a content partnership with Yahoo! and MSN India, where there will be exclusive content including footages from the show, behind the scene action and the ability to interact with/send messages to the contestants or judges. There will also be banner ads on the online medium.

Star Plus will conduct on-ground activations in 10 cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Indore, Chandigarh, Pune and Lucknow. "The team will be doing cook-offs between these children and adults in these cities. This will give people a first-hand experience on how talented these kids are," Madhok says.

The activation will start soon and will go on for four weeks even after the launch. It will be conducted for two days in each city, in high traffic areas with an aim to reach 5000-15000 people directly.

On the day of the launch, there will be print ads; the channel also plans to launch out of home campaigns in Delhi and Mumbai.

Giving a planner's point of view, Umesh Kumar, business director, Allied Media, says, "Masterchef is a totally different concept and it's not an Indian concept. Here for kids the passion can be dancing and singing but cooking is not very popular. I am not very hopeful as a planner that the concept will work."