Sony?s Santiniketan

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 5.05.05

What next after Indian Idol? ?A Santiniketan in Mumbai,? answers Ila Arun, the headmistress of Sony?s new show Fame Gurukul. If Indian Idol was a licensed adaptation of American Idol, Fame Gurukul, to hit the small screen some time in June, is the desi avatar of the record-breaking Spanish reality show Operacion Triunfo.

?Although we are looking for singers, it isn?t a studio-based talent hunt like Indian Idol,? clarifies Tarun Katial, executive vice-president and business head, Sony Entertainment Television, at the Calcutta launch of the show on Wednesday. ?Fame Gurukul is like a daily soap opera where we start the show with the 14 finalists. So there is no whittling down of contestants. Here we are stressing on the grooming of the aspirants and the real emotions that come out.?

After auditions in Calcutta, Mumbai, Delhi and Indore, 100 contestants will be shortlisted, from which 14 will be handpicked by the jury (lyricist Javed Akhtar, singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan and singer KK) for the on-air shows of Fame Gurukul. The 14 will be trained by industry experts and then, the jury will pick the four from which one has to be eliminated every week.

?The elimination process is very interesting,? feels Javed Akhtar. ?After we have kept four on probation, the Gurukul faculty ? the jury and the teachers ? get to save one of them, the participants themselves get to save one, and then the audiences across the country get to save one through phone calls and SMSs.?

Sony?s conscious effort to distinguish Fame Gurukul from Indian Idol starts with the colour scheme (red as opposed to blue) and ends with the eventual winners (two this time, rather than the solitary Abhijeet Sawant). The hosts have changed too with Mandira Bedi and Manav Gohil (of CID fame) stepping into the shoes of Mini Mathur and Aman Verma.

As for the grooming professionals, Padma Wadkar, classical singer and wife of popular playback Suresh Wadkar, will be the vocal coach along with singer Prasant Samadhar who has sung in films like Fiza, Taal and Gadar. Counsellor Anjali Chhabria will help with matters of the mind while choreographer Geeta Kapur will put the contestants through their dancing paces while consultant Mickey Mehta will oversee fitness.

Just like Indian Idol, the winners of the show ? the Fame Jodi ? will be awarded a recording deal with Sony BMG and a contract worth Rs 1 crore with Sony. Slotted from Mondays to Thursdays between 8.30 and 9 pm and on Fridays as a one-hour special at 8 pm, Fame Gurukul will provide the run-up to the second season of Indian Idol later in the year.