After 'Indian Idol', Sony is testing reality on weekdays with 'Fame Gurukul'. While the look, feel and format are different, the decision to sell the show at a high cost continues. With this show, the channel aims to offer a 'reality soap opera' and break the 8.30 pm clutter.
Fame Gurukul is planned for Monday to Friday, where from Monday to Thursday it takes the 8.30 pm slot, while Friday will be one-hour result episode at 8.00 pm. The judges comprise of Javed Akhtar, KK and Shankar Mahadevan. And, the lady driving the show is Ila Arun as Fame Academy's headmistress. The show is presented by Mandira Bedi and Manav Gohil.
While the on-grounds for the show begins this month, the show will go on air in June. Speaking about the show, Anupama Mandloi, Creative Director, Sony Entertainment, said, "We are always looking at offering differentiated products and if you see the other shows in the slot, this would be a strong clutter breaker."
Mandloi explained that the show is meant to be a reality soap opera, allowing the show to offer the intense drama factor that the 8.30 pm audience would look for. While the serials like Ayushmaan really haven't delivered at all for the channel, this counter programming strategy does make sense. Commenting on why it makes sense to have a reality on weekdays, Nikhil Alva, CEO, Miditech (Producers of the show, along with Optimystix), said, "Why shouldn't reality be tested on weekdays? Fame Gurukul, especially is perfect because the show has an interesting element that involves the audience and has the element of unpredictability."
The show truly takes reality to the next level. An actual academy is set up where in 14 participants are required to stay, cut out from the world and wired 24 hours. The headmistress Ila Arun would have members like Padma Wadkar, Prashant Samadhar, Anjali Chhabria and Geeta Kapur who would groom this talent. The show will see judging not just from the jury and the audience but also from the panel and the contestants themselves.
The marketing of the show would be intense. Tushar Shah, Head, Marketing, Sony, said, "The on-air are already in place and towards the end of the month, the off-air too would take off. The marketing effort during the launch would concentrate on presenting a communication which will give a feel of what the audience can expect from the show."
However, a look at the international performance indicates that the show would be interesting to watch. It is an adaptation of Endemol's 'Operacion Triunfo', which had delivered very well for the channel in Spain. However, unlike 'Idol', where the format was a success irrespective of the market and had managed only rave reviews, such doesn't appear to be the case when BBC1's experience of Fame Academy. Media reports suggest that the show was initially even tag-lined 'Lame Academy'. The general opinion was that the show was too much of a mix of Big Brother and Pop Idol and wasn't much in the same league as Operacion Triunfo. In markets like France and Spain the show worked but it did have a tough time in the UK. As for India, whether it would be 'Fame' or 'Lame', going forward, at least promises to be an interesting watch.