The reality of dance

Written by Sudipta Datta | Updated: Apr 27 2011, 15:44pm hrs
Star Plus teams are scouting through New York and London, besides extensively covering 11 cities across India, to find outstanding dancers who can match steps with the god of dance Hrithik Roshan for upcoming reality show Just Dance. To go on air in May-June, once IPL 4 gets over, the channel is pulling out all stops to ensure its success, with the winner promised a prize money of Rs 1 crore and a video with Roshan.

What is it about dance reality shows that prompts general entertainment channels to bet on them Star TV sources say the fact that dance reality shows work is evident from the reaction. For the Just Dance auditions, that began in late February, 25,000-30,000 persons queued up in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Star is also going to smaller cities like Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Lucknow to look for talent. Says Anupam Vasudev, EVP, marketing and communication, Star India, Hrithik Roshan has glorified dance through his career... and Just Dance will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to aspirants.

Dance reality shows are hugely popular in our country and we have seen great success with our own home grown format Nach Baliye. There is a great propensity to consume dance in reality show formats, say Star TV sources.

At Sony, which has just finished airing Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, where Madhuri Dixit was one of the star judges, the impact of the show is still being felt. For 12 weeks, it was the talk of the town, and the property brought back focus to the channel. A dedicated amount of viewers watched the show, says Danish Khan, VP and head of marketing at Sony. Khan, in fact, feels this was the best Jhalak ever with set and lighting being done with the help of UK expertsJhalak is an Indian adaptation of BBCs popular Dancing with Starsthe presence of Madhuri Dixit and the high quality of dancing with Yana Gupta and popular stars Sashant Rajput and Meiyang Chang,

the ultimate winner.

For Sony, one of the longest running shows was, of course, Boogie Woogie, which was launched in 1996 and was really a celebration of dance, with the competition not so high. The show, hosted by the Jaffrey brothers, has taken a break, but Khan says we may bring it back at some point in time. Ask about the fatigue faction and Khan points out that there are a couple of genres like music and dance shows that dont get boring. You can execute the format in a different way, make it exciting. For instance, with Jhalak, Madhuri became a

differentiating factor.

Most channels we spoke to say the formal will not go out of fashion; instead its becoming increasingly competitive. The sets and lighting are becoming better, and the prize money is growing too. For Jhalak, the winning pair walked away with Rs 50 lakh.

According to Star, non-fiction content adds spice to the otherwise linear programming round the year. While no channel can survive without a robust fiction line-up and non-fiction content, Star sources point out that apart from attracting huge advertisers, content like Just Dance enables channels to present an innovative and interesting format to Indian viewers, bringing them closer to the best of content on world television. With Hrithik Roshan on the show, it will also bridge the gap between TV and Bollywood, and will definitely create a huge buzz and help channel equity.

TV insiders say the most premium thing on TV today is creativity, and whoever does something original and pioneering will grab the most eyeballs. Fresh with Jhalaks success, Sony may host another dance show towards the end of the year. For the next six months, all energies at SET are focused on big format singing reality show, X Factor, to be launched on May 29 just after IPL.

Zees Ashish Golwalkar, ZeeTV programming head (non-fiction), points out that dance and music shows will always do well in India, and if they dont, the reason may be temporary fatigue or a creative slip-up. In India, cricket, Bollywood and religion are the only three things that unify the whole country; they are crowd pullers too. Zees entry to dance was lateit pioneered the music reality show Sa Re Ga Maand when it did, it changed the paradigm, taking it to the masses. The shows dependent on stars are expensive, so we decided to do something different, he adds. Today, Dance India Dance is a very big brand for Zee. I was convinced people wanted to see rags-to-riches stories; I was convinced people would relate to common people dancing with passion, says Gowalkar. Dance India Dance has had several brand extensions, and Golwalkar, who has seen many rounds of auditions, says the talent out there is mind boggling... because of these dance shows, people are looking at dance as a career.

Asked about the response from advertisers, Golwalker says Zees dance shows have had a great response from the advertising fraternity. Star, too, says the response from advertisers to Just Dance has been great, but declined to give details, saying, We will share data closer to the month of the launch. Its working on a lot of promotional ideas on how best to take the show to the largest possible audience. We expect this show to achieve what no other dancing show has ever achieved in the industry. Our last dance reality show, Zara Nachke Dikha, had popular celebrities participating in two teams and did extremely well in terms of reach and revenue. Just Dance is a completely different format, as it will be a larger-than-life dance reality show, say Star sources.

Analysts say with intense competition, channels are trying to outdo each other by roping in big stars to push dance and music shows. They also woo contestants with huge prize money and other goodies. Insiders say the only way to keep the shows fresh is by pushing the boundaries of the format. Stars coup has been to convince Hrithik Roshan to enter the world of TV. But television isnt the easiest of mediums, with even bigger stars like SRK struggling on TVhis recent show Zor Ka Jhatka had poor TRPs.