The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Talent hunt via SMS
- Gurukul switches format to check turnout

Mumbai, May 7: Sony Entertainment Television has changed its format for music talent hunts after an unexpected 20,000 turnout for the Fame Gurukul auditions ended in chaos and violence at Science City yesterday.

'From last night, after the audition in Calcutta, we have started a new system via SMS to allow contestants entry. To register for the audition, a person has to send an SMS to Sony.

'We will see if the person meets with the eligibility criteria and if he does, he will receive an SMS back from Sony, mentioning a particular date, time and venue for an audition,' said Nikhil Alva, chief operating officer, Miditech, which is producing the show for Sony.

'The idea is to keep the number of contestants under check at a particular time,' he said. The filtering was necessary to avoid the possibility of an unexpectedly huge turnout.

'No television channel is equipped to manage the kind of crowd that turned up,' he added.

Yesterday in Calcutta, at the first audition for the show, the television channel had expected around 5,000 people. But a crowd of about 20,000 turned up, leading to chaos and a police lathicharge.

Alva added that venues would be rescheduled, too, as the places the channel had decided on earlier would be inadequate to meet with the kind of turnout Sony was now expecting. He said the success of Indian Idol, Sony’s previous music talent hunt, had led to colossal expectations, which brought in so many people.

He said while the Calcutta incident was unfortunate, the turnout showed the tremendous response for a show like Fame Gurukul.

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