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The name's Bond. Games Bond!

Aparna Krishnakumar in Mumbai | August 10, 2005

The set resembles a war-torn area -- broken walls and water pipes, smoke emanating from pillars and a martial background score. But the scene has not been recreated for a war or crime serial.

It is the setting where Games Bond -- the first virtual game reality show for channel Star One -- is being shot.

Currently on air on Star One, Games Bond is based on a popular virtual game Counter Strike 1.6. and is hosted by model, actor Rahul Dev. "The idea is to popularise the idea of gaming which is still nascent in India," say Kanwaldeep Kalsi and Ankush Patel (CEO), co-founders of Kalkush & Company, that makes the show.

Originally, the idea was to find the winner (Games Bond) and send him to the World CPL Gaming Championships in US. However, for now, the winner will have to be content with taking home lots of gaming devices as prizes.

Says Kalsi, the COO of the company: "This is just one of the original formats created by us. We have some 7 to 8 formats ready and hope to get at least four on air by next year." Kalsi believes that 65 per cent of the Indian television market that comprises non-fiction programming, has remained untapped.

"There is not a single production company that creates formats in India. And we hope to change that." Essentially he means that all the game shows and reality TV formats are licensed from companies abroad and then produced in India.

But what attracted the ex-IITian and a graduate from Kellogg School of Management to the world of media and entertainment? "It was a risky proposition" agree the two. But it was less risky than the skydiving trip where Kalsi and Patel met for the first time.

Kalsi, 30, an IIT Delhi alumnus, was already an entrepreneur having started two dotcom ventures in the US which went bust in the late 1990s. Patel, a certified public accountant (CPA) in the US, had studied management.

His last stint was at Ernst & Young where he was a part of the strategic finance group. Both were based in Atlanta. They zeroed in on setting up a television software production house.

Says Patel: "India does not have a dearth of talent and technical expertise. What it lacks is the systems and processes and we realised that it makes more business sense to produce shows in India than buy formatted shows elsewhere."

After a six-month market research and backed by a 80-page business plan, the duo invested a seed capital and approached venture capitalists. Armed with necessary funding, they invested in strategic tie-ups.

Kalsi claims having tied up with Adrenaline Films (technical producers of Survivor and Apprentice TV shows in US), Mauj.com (interactive gaming site in China and India for terrestrial networks) and Backhome TV (American TV content producers for ethnic Indian audiences in the US).

When they came to India last October, Patel and Kalsi were commissioned by Star India to do Games Bond. "We not only created the format but decided to produce the show as well," says Patel. The game show has already got them a syndication request from Japan -- a country where on-line gaming is huge business.

In the future, the company wants to diversify into business show formats as well. But with big boys like Fremantle and Endemol setting up shop in India and presence of local companies such as Miditech and Optimystix , isn't there stiff competition?

Explains Patel: "Fremantle is a specialist firm that buys format shows from companies like Celedor in the UK, while the Indian players are merely producing licensed shows and not creating any original formats. We want to be like Infosys and TCS which employs local resources for the companies of the world."

So what's next on the agenda? The duo is currently scouting for scriptwriters who could script a sitcom as good as Friends.



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