INDIA: New reality show to kick off on Sony TV

New Indian reality show is modeled after UK Big Brother, which has stirred controversy

Times of India
Sunday, January 21, 2007

New Delhi --- As reality television penetrated Indian households like never before after actress Shilpa Shetty's racism row in the UK, Sony Television is planning to launch a new show that will feature known faces from both TV and the big screen playing real life heroes.

"You will see known actors in a whole new light," Sandiip Sikcand, Sony's creative head, said.

There will be a new face in every episode of the show, and both TV and film bigwigs will be roped in to play the parts of "true life heroes", he said.

There will be a host for all episodes and the show will air on prime time slots on Friday and Saturday.

Refusing to lift the veil on the show's actual content, Sikcand said, "Even ordinary human beings can perform heroic deeds and your everyday actors will do stuff in the show they have never done before."

The series will hit the air sometime later this year and its title and other "nitty gritties" are being ironed out, Sikcand, one of the brains behind the project, said.

The channel is buoyed by the success of its reality series Big Boss, which have hit a TRP average of three to four million viewers.

"The viewers just love the show," Sikcand said. Big Boss has been designed on the lines of its UK counterpart Big Brother, with 13 small and big screen actors locked up in a house where their daily activities are broadcast to viewers round-the-clock.

Asked whether a creative vacuum in India has resulted in most TV shows borrowing heavily from abroad, Sikcand said, "It is not true.

"We do have a lot of creative talent. There is no lack of conceptualisation. The reality show on heroes is proof of that," he said.

Though he refused to divulge details about the "heroes" show, a new American drama series by the same name is due to premiere on Indian television.

It premiered on NBC in the US on September 25, 2006 and told the story of several people "who thought they were like everyone else...until they woke with incredible abilities, such as telepathy, time travel and flight".

It attracted 14.3 million viewers in the US on its opening night.

Reality TV's contents became the subject of debate after Shilpa Shetty allegedly became the target of racist bullying on Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother in Britain, stirring an international storm on the issue and sending the show's ratings sky-rocketing.