For reality TV specialist Niret Alva, Survivor India is huuuge

12 Jan,2012

By Johnson Napier


Utter the word ‘reality’ in a crowded space or even within the confines of an office and a flurry of mixed reactions are likely to fly thick and fast. From bad to artificial to monotonous, one could expect such and other ghastly descriptors from opinion-makers, however irrelevant their views. But then there are production houses which are assessing the changing market scenario and viewing tastes of the masses and are working their way in providing content of differentiated nature. One such firm is Miditech India, in the news more recently for its reality show, Survivor India. Miditech is of course known as a reality TV specialist.


The show, which has been running across multiple countries and in different languages, makes its formal debut in India. While different countries have different formats to accommodate the show, in India the show will be spread across 45 days and will include 22 contestants. In all, 22 episodes are to be aired in India. While it would too premature to rate the opening performance of the show on the numbers front, what is commendable is the scale and the effort that has gone in putting the show together.


For Niret Alva, Co-Founder of Miditech and also Executive Producer of Survivor India, the best thing is that it could easily be billed the biggest reality show that has ever been launched in India. Affirms Alva, “The show is one of the biggest that India has ever seen. In terms of geographic scale, sheer number of people involved, international crew coming together…it is hundred percent huge. The whole breadth of the action is spread across 30-40 sq kms. It is not in one set like other shows. Every day the set gets dismantled and has to be set up anew for another challenge every day. So in that sense, it could easily be the biggest from a production standpoint in India.”


In fact so huge has been the effort around putting the show together that it has taken Miditech more than 18 months to get it launched in India. Asserts Mr Alva, “The actual process has been in the works for one-and-a-half years. From sourcing the license to developing the show to doing the recce for the location to putting the team together – it is one of the biggest teams on a show with about 400 people from around the world being involved – so the scale at which we have gone about is big.”


According to Mr Alva, Miditech had wanted to bring Survivor to India for a long time, but for one reason or the other aspirations did not align. “But for the current round, we licensed the show from Survivor and then brought it to the Indian market, and were immediately able to strike a chord with Star India as they were able to understand it and understand that it needed to be done in a particular way.”


Given the gargantuan effort and the originality in concept, Mr Alva is hopeful that the show will find resonance with the viewers. “The expectation is a hope that the Indian viewing public, which pretty much sees reality as some sort of manipulated, artificial, fictionalised space has its faith restored in the genre. The fact that it is all unscripted, except for the anchor lines, will help in restoring the faith of the people in the authenticity of the characters and the show on a whole.” According to Mr Alva, “People will get to see contestants losing weight, you will see them falling sick, you will see them getting tanned, you will see them in a shabby state, etc all of which cannot be seen on other reality shows.”


When quizzed on the choice of cast for the show, Mr Alva countered it, saying, “We were very clear that we wanted to do auditions around the country. Star was also excited about that. We were clear that we needed people whom one can recognise on the popularity front – thus celebrities – and then there were the everyday people, who needed to have a degree of excellence or something that made them unique in terms of character. What we were clear about is that we would not compromise on the format for anything. So that’s how we went through hundreds of people literally before we shortlisted the final few.”


In fact, according to Mr Alva, most of the contestants left the show midway after realising they couldn’t cope with even the basics of what the show demanded. “But we were glad to have received response from certain contestants as those who came to the table had researched the show and they were exceptionally motivated; they had a point to prove to themselves and to the world at large. We then conducted physical tests for swimming, running, cycling and even psychiatric evaluation before we could shortlist the candidates.”


Brushing aside questions on ROI and response from advertisers, Mr Alva would only state, “The cost of production would be 15-20 per cent more than a big scale reality show. It is definitely huge.”


So while Survivor India is keeping the viewers busy in India, Miditech has its hands full with other projects, some of which include Achiever’s Club on Star World, Panasonic House of Beauty on MTV, a health-based show for Colors that will go on air in February and also the Guinness World Records that is in the pipeline. “We are also in the language space – Tamil, Bengali and are looking at Kannada as an option. We also did a one-hour special inside Tihar Jail for National Geographic, which is really edge-of-the-seat,” shared Mr Alva.


Despite being in the business for 18 years, the challenge for the company is to face other format holders who have set up their own production houses and who insist on producing their own shows. “Going forward, it’s not going to be only about good ideas but about good ideas at competitive cost. Also, the TAM meters have to go berserk. It’s really a tall order,” avers Mr Alva.


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.

Today's Top Stories