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9 March 2001

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Masala Mix
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STAR to host a series of 'Crorepati' specials

MUMBAI: The STAR network has dismissed reports that it is contemplating sweeping changes in its game show "Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC)," whose success is unparalleled in Indian television history.

Denying reports in a section of the press that the TRP (television rating points)-topping show was now going to be telecast three times instead of four times a week, STAR's chief of programming Sameer Nair says: "We're still very much on with four episodes of KBC. And we don't intend to change that. Why should we when KBC continues to far exceed the TRPs of everything else on television?"

"What we are now doing is we are converting one of the four episodes of KBC each week into a children's special which will come on Sunday mornings while the other three regular episodes will continue to be telecast on weekdays," he adds. KBC will be also featuring married couples as contestants for 16 episodes.

"We've had remarkable success with KBC," says Nair. "Now we wish to sustain it. As for rumours about reorganising KBC, why fix it when it ain't broke? We have no plans of tampering with KBC at all. People just love to talk."

Nair also dismisses reports that Amitabh Bachchan-hosted KBC is feeling threatened by the Govinda-hosted game show "Jeeto Chappad Phaad Ke". "The TRP ratings of 'Jeeto' are down to 4. Our threat from Sony's show is zero. We aren't even on the same days or slots. The one time when we took them on headlong with our Madhuri Dixit-Sachin Tendulkar special we wiped them out," he says.

"But of course we aren't out to prove anything by relocating KBC to the weekends to compete with 'Jeeto Chappad Phaad Ke'. We already have control of the weekdays," he adds. "Besides it isn't much different from our KBC. So at the end of the day 'Jeeto' is no more than a well-produced me-too."

Nair poohpoohs reports that KBC's ratings have been plummeting recently. "Such stories are an inevitable fallout of any successful event. KBC had spectacularly huge ratings when it started. Now it has settled down to a respectable level. Between 9 and 10 p.m. we still continue to remain by far the undisputed No.1. There's no question of any other show creeping up on us," he says. "We are not only dominating the ratings between 9 and 10 but also between 10 and 11 p.m. with our two back-to-back soaps 'Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki' and 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi'. The first 12 slots in the TRPs have been ours from November."

Nair says he finds it strange that some sections of the press are waiting for KBC to fall when the show's exemplary success should be celebrated by all Indians. "This is nothing but the slow crab pulling down the crab going up the wall," he says.

Meanwhile, Zee Telefilms now plans to hit back at KBC with a slice of Reality TV entitled "Prisoners of War". Nair confirms that STAR too is looking at Reality TV as the next big bang after the game show. "But it's got to be done in the right way suited to Indian viewers. We're being circumspect about it. Incidentally, Reality TV needn't be grim. It can be loads of fun. Zee has decided to be the first one off the block. It's a good move to have Reality TV as competition for our game show. Let's see how it goes," he says.

STAR has some great shows planned for this summer season. But getting big film stars into soaps isn't an immediate plan. There's a new thriller from Ekta Kapoor's Balajee Telefilms and a political satire going on STAR in the coming weeks. (IANS)

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