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India's own "Dance with the stars"

Friday, August 25, 2006

New Delhi (UNI): Reality shows seeking to transform celebrities with two left feet into professional dancers a'la Prabhu Deva, Javed Jaffrey or Shiamak Davar seem to be in vogue on television. Close on the heels of Star One announcing the launch of second season of its popular celebrity dance show 'Nach Baliye', Sony Entertainment television, in a clear bid to cash in on the 'hot trend', has announced the launch of 'Jhalak Dikhla Jaa'.

It is a show which will have some of India's well known personalities like cricketer Ajay Jadeja, celebrity chef and 'kitchen king' Sanjiv Kapoor, TV actors Mona Singh, Shweta Salve and Akashdeep Sehgal along withTV diva and talk show host Pooja Bedi, film actor Rati Agnihotri and filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar trying their hands at a skill that has never been their cup of tea - dancing. 'Jhalak Dikhla Jaa' based on the internationally-renowned reality-based dance show 'Dancing with the Stars', which has made a huge success worldwide out of having celebrities from different walks of life like sports, fashion, films and music performing with professional dance partners on a highly competitive stage. It will be on air on September 7 at 2200 hrs the CEO of Sony Entertainment television India Pvt Ltd, N P Singh announced at a press meet here yesterday.

The show, whose international format, owned by the BBC, has been a huge success across 27 countries like Britain, US, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and many other countries, is being produced for SET in India by Siddharth Basu's Synergy Communications (makers of the hugely-successful 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' and 'Mastermind') and Theatre Red. Judging the celebrities from different walks of life on their dancing skills - their chemistry with the professional dance partners, thir dancing style and their level of passion - will be a panel of three judges which include classic filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bollywood choreographer-turned-filmmaker Farah Khan and the beautiful and svelte Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty. The celebrities will be paired with their highly skilled dance partners who are accomplished dancers. The professional dancers will train, support and complement the celebrities some of whom have never danced before.

So, while celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor will be partnered with choreographer Nicole Alvaris, filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar with dancer Sonia Jaffer, TV diva Pooja Bedi will be paired with dancer Hanif Hilal, TV actor Shweta Dalve will be partnered with choreographer Longinus, Cricketer Ajay Jadeja with dancer Rea Krishnatraye, TV actor Mona Singh with choreographer Toby, actor Rati Agnihotri with Bollywood choreographer Feroz Khan and TV actor Akashdeep Sehgal with dancer Bindi Khare. Speaking about the show, Siddharth Basu said ''Song and dance is what the popular culture in India is all about. What makes this show unique in the history of Indian television, as well as interesting is that unlike other dance shows (like 'Boogie Woogie'), here the contestants, while being established figures in their respective fields, are not trained dancers." "Infact, what has made the show work all over the world is the amazing chemistry between celebrities like basketball player Michael Jordan and Footballer Diego Maradona and their professional dance partners which has led to their transformation into professional dancers,'' he added.

''What is interesting about the show is the fact that despite not being adept in dancing, these celebrities are endeavouring to put their best foot forward. It is this spirit that has made the show a huge success in several countries of the world and I am certain, it will be success in India too,''Basu said. ''The basic purpose of the show is to present to viewers an aspect of the celebrities they have not hitherto seen. In away the show presents the best of 'bharat' in song and dance by having celebrities from varied walks of life and hailing from different regions trying to showcase their dancing skills'' he said.

For most of the celebrity contestants, the prospect of putting their "best dancing foot" forward, though initially scary, was nevertheless an experience they are now thoroughly enjoying. ''Initially, having to do something I have never done was painfull. But now, I am thoroughly enjoying myself,'' filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar said. For Pooja Bedi, the show offered a "god send" opportunity to try her hand at and getting paid too, something she wanted to learn all along. ''I have been wanting to know and learn all about various kinds of dancing styles. So when the offer to participate in this show came, I almost jumped with joy. Infact, I must admit though that it was not as easy as I thought it would be. Nevertheless, I am having fun,''she said. Cricketer Ajay Jadeja too looked forward to the show as he too enjoyed dancing. However, the same was not the case with celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor. ''Aate dal ka bhaav ab pata chala (It is now that I am getting to know what pain is all about). Still, thanks to Nicole, I am getting to grasp the dance steps'' Kapoor said.

The show will be aired in eight episodes, each of which will see the celebrities being judged based on votes of the public as well as that of the judges, which will be in a 50:50 ratio. One celebrity pair with the lowest score will be eliminated each week. Speaking on the occasion, Shilpa, who was the only one out of the three celebrity judges present, said some of the factors on which the participants would be rated were their chemistry with the professional dancers, their dancing style and, most importantly, how they enjoyed performing on the show. ''For me, being a judge on the show is an extension of my acting career, '' Shilpa said.

The announcement of the show's launch comes close on the heels of the Star Network announcing the launch of 'Nach Baliye2' next month. The second edition of the celebrity dance show 'Nach Baliye', featuring the who's who of Indian television vying with each another for the title of the best dancing pair. The first edition of the show had been a huge rage across the country last year. Making celebrities unaware of the intricacies of professional dance putting their best foot forward may be a tricky business but the channels seen it as a opportunity to boost their TRPs.

Given that the first edition of Nach Baliye on Star One last year was a runaway success, bringing back audiences week after week with its spell binding content, having some of India's best celebrities put their best foot forward may be a profitable proposition indeed in the race for the best TRPs. Asked whether amid a host of similar dance-based reality shows, a new show like 'Jhalak Dikhla Jaa' stood a chance, Sidhartha Basu said,''I feel as regards presenting interesting shows to the audience, the more the better. Let a hundred flowers bloom. Ultimately, the viewers will chose the best out of them.''

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