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Will Madhuri magic work for Sony?

Our Bureau

Madhuri Dixit at a Sony Entertainment Television press conference to announce a new matrimonial-based reality show.

NEW DELHI, July 12

CAN Sony Entertainment Television's (SET) match-making act do for the channel what Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) did for Star Plus?

Mr Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, SET India Pvt Ltd, seems to be playing it safe. "Amitabh Bachchan is a superstar of the millennium, while Madhuri Dixit is a current generation phenomenon,'' he told the media here on Friday, announcing the channel's much-awaited interactive, matrimonial-based show Kahin naa kahin koi hai.

But the fact that SET is placing a lot of faith in this show anchored by Madhuri Dixit and scheduled to take off on July 29 is apparent. Production costs are `huge', Mr Dasgupta, maintained, even though he declined to disclose the figure. According to Ms Zarina Mehta, Director, UTV (which has produced the show) the production house has had two to three months of `personal' interaction with every girl who has been on the show.

"We undertook a careful pre-selection process and have worked very hard in understanding the likes and dislikes of the girls and boys,'' said Ms Mehta.

Even the media launch was opulent to say the least, marked by a resplendent Madhuri Dixit, an elaborately decked up hall, flower-bedecked swings, a pandal and even an actual mehndi (henna) ceremony in full swing.

The show will be aired four days a week, from Mondays to Thursdays, during prime time.

Dispelling doubts that Kahin naa kahin... would reduce the dignity of marriage, Mr Dasgupta said, "We are not commercialising entertainment. We are actually helping anxious parents find suitable matches for their children.''

The channel has so far not started selling the show and advertisers and sponsors are yet to be finalised. But the advertising fraternity seems to be excited. "The concept is new and different from the saas-bahu genre of programmes,'' said a media planner with Enterprise Nexus.

According to another Delhi-based media planner, the show seems to have potential and would draw in the audiences at least in the first few weeks. "But the show will sustain only if Madhuri manages to make the contestants feel comfortable and that comfort factor comes through to the audience,'' she said. The show is likely to attract persons who are single and interested in arranged marriages. But it's still a gamble.

Post KBC, big shows haven't really struck a chord with the audiences. SET's Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke, a show anchored by Govinda, which was on the same lines as KBC, was pulled off and Zee's Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai could also not wield the same magic for the channel's fortune.

Can SET pull it off this time? The next few months will decide.

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