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Satisfied to bring an idea as eclectic, diverse and intense as TED Talks on TV in Hindi: Uday Shankar, Star India

06-October-2017
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Satisfied to bring an idea as eclectic, diverse and intense as TED Talks on TV in Hindi: Uday Shankar, Star India

Uday Shankar, Chairman and CEO, Star India, was not happy to see television losing out as the creative solution for ordinary people. This in a way led to ‘TED Talks India Nayi Soch’ on Star Plus in collaboration with non-profit media organisation TED and FremantleMedia Group. To be aired in Hindi, this show will be hosted by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. The deal marks the first time that TED is collaborating with a major network and star to produce a TV series featuring original TED Talks in a language other than English.

Shankar shared, “At Star India we have focused our energy and resources to come up with something that will challenge the established stereotype of creativity and content for entertainment television. TED Talks on Star Plus is clearly an outcome of that.”

“We are already very satisfied to bring an idea as eclectic, diverse and intense on TV in a language which is not considered a means of mass communication for intellectual ideas even in this country. We are proud to bring it to you in Hindi,” stated Shankar. 
Though the network hasn’t disclosed the time band, the show will feature talks by lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar, television producer Ekta Kapoor, director Karan Johar, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Indian women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj, among others.

A show in association with TED, anchored by a superstar and featuring renowned celebrities also spells huge investment. Without revealing the figures Shankar said, “Star has always believed that material resources should not dictate the quality of the creative product. This show requires a lot of effort in terms of picking up the right kind of talent. Research is deep and intensive. It’s been in the making for months. When we are doing a show like this the money that we have spent on it becomes the least of our concerns.”

Shankar also talked about the challenge of convincing TED Talk to bring it to India that too in the national language. “In some ways what TED offers is also an outcome of what regular television or print media don’t offer. So we thought if at all it was possible for Star to step into that space and work with TED to bring all those ideas worth spreading and make it accessible to a whole group of people who didn’t have access to them. Regardless of the power and popularity of TED there was one thing that wasn’t happening: people who couldn’t appreciate or consume content in the English language were left out of benefitting from TED. So we thought we could persuade the TED team to consider what we were proposing to do. It’s their remarkable vision and the commitment that they were open to the idea. Here we are today with probably the most exciting creative breakout proposition in the mainstream media today in the world."

Shankar also talked about why they chose Shah Rukh Khan as the face to introduce TED Talk to viewers. He added, “That person had to have known intellect that doesn’t easily come to anyone. We also realized that this person really has to get excited about the power of an idea before we could make the power of the idea come alive on Star Plus. When we started engaging with that challenge, the list turned out to be really short with just one name, none other than SRK. He is probably the only person who really epitomises the intellectual and creative curiosity that goes way beyond what he does on a daily basis.”

Chris Anderson, Head of TED, said, “TED Talks India Nayi Soch marks an unprecedented step in TED’s ongoing effort to bring big ideas to curious minds around the world. Combine India’s impressive thinkers and its growing appetite for knowledge with Shah Rukh Khan’s global fan following and Star’s massive reach, and we have a real shot at offering millions of people the empowerment that inspiring speakers can bring. We’re delighted at this partnership. The Star team and Shah Rukh Khan have created riveting television that takes the TED platform to a whole new place."

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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.