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The new face of game shows

December 30, 2005 13:16 IST

What does the term 'reality game show' stand for? A programme that comes packed with emotions and involves playing for a jackpot. The money-spinners have traditionally been in the form of quiz shows, panel shows, celebrity guest shows or programmes that give the audience the power to decide the next move.

Star TV's Kaun Banega Crorepati clearly stands at the number one position among existing game shows. Says Aparna Pande, programming head, Zoom TV, "Amitabh Bachchan can connect easily with people and vice versa. The dignified persona of the host and the star aura evokes just the right mix of emotions and awe."

The show, she believes, has triggered a 'herd mentality' for others. "A few game shows will bring in money for the creators while some will simply vanish." Zoom is also on the look out for a suitable game show concept for itself.

Star One, the blue-eyed baby of the Star parivar, has been in the headlines with shows like Nach Baliye and The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. But Super Sale, a game show hosted by Sajid Khan, has not scaled the popularity charts. "The reason," says a critic, "is that the host is so busy mimicking stars and actors, he forgets that the participants are no longer with him."

A few game shows have sunk without a trace -- like Sony Television's Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke, which was hosted by Govinda. Despite offering a large jackpot, the show met with an early end.

The bottomline: audiences didn't like what they were seeing. Learning from its past mistakes, Sony has now come up with Deal Ya No Deal, hosted by R Madhavan. The young host rehearsed for 17 days and worked on the format before the shooting. "I have no written script," reveals Madhavan, "I have a talk with the participants prior to the show about what they would do with their prize money." He is confident that the show can successfully go on for about five years.

The host, opine critics, shoulders the responsibility to make the audiences relate to the participants. "The host has to travel with his audiences. Now this can be with the help of emotions, raking up personal issues or discussing participants' dreams," says Pande.

For Madhavan, the toughest times have been when participants lose out on big money. "Then emotions run freely and you cannot tell them to shut up. This is where reality becomes a part of the show," he says.

Abhijit Saxena, business head, Zee TV, says, "The best thing about a reality show is that it is real and interactive, and the participants go through situations carved out for them." On the other hand, game shows are a platform where participants compete to win cash prizes.

Saxena admits that emotions and drama during a game show get eyeballs, which is the bottom line. The channel recently launched Kam Ya Zyada with Manoj Bajpai as its host.

While the stakes are getting steeper with every show, the business of game shows with a touch of reality is becoming lucrative. SaharaOne will unveil Mission Ek Crore, which also marks the debut of actor Sanjay Dutt on the small screen.

Says Purnendu Bose, "The channel has associated with FremantleMedia India to develop, produce and license the game show format for India." SaharaOne could have opted for a hand-me-down format from the West instead of creating a format, but Bose says, "It's time we have our content and formats."

Optimistic that Sanjay Dutt would be an ideal host, Bose adds, "People can connect with him as a person who has learnt from his mistakes in life." The show will be on air by March 2006. And yes, it will flaunt a reality connection too.
Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi