It’s here. Star brings TED Talks with SRK

06 Oct,2017

All smiles: L to R: Chris Anderson with you-know-who (Uday Shankar and Salman Khan… uff, okay, Shah Rukh Khan


By A Correspondent


Star India is not known to hold press conferences often. Why, other than a select few, their business heads don’t even speak to the media. But then when they do, it’s almost always something very big.

And what happened on Thursday was significant as it was about yet another ‘hat ke’ show, which goes beyond entertainment, but will air on entertainment channel Star Plus.

It was about ‘TED Talks India Nayi Soch’ (TTINS) and will star Shah Rukh Khan as host. It is TED’s first collaboration with a television network globally, and it will be the first time ever when a TED Talk will be aired on television first. The show is scheduled to start some time later this year (which leaves December, November and a bit of October in 2017) and we still don’t know what time it will be aired. On a Sunday morning (like Satyamev Jayate) or weekday primetime or weekend primetime.

When we normally talk of new shows, the report is generally based on a press release, and with some extra answers and info thrown in. But then this is Star Plus, and the network is headed by a former journalist (Uday Shankar) who still thinks like a journalist. The head of the content studio (Gaurav Banerjee) is also a former journalist, so one is sure they wouldn’t mind us toeing their line of ‘nayi soch’ and first looking at the challenges ahead for the new show.


1. This isn’t the first time that Star Plus has retained megastar Shah Rukh Khan as a host. In the early 2000s, he hosted Kaun Banega Crorepati, and later to host Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain?, the Indian version of ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?’.

Then in 2011, he returned to Imagine TV’s ‘Zor Ka Jhatka: Total Wipeout’, the Indian version of ‘Wipeout’. While his film awards shows have rated well, his three key television appearances as a star host have seen dismal results. Duds, one could say. Will TTINS work for SRK and Star Plus? Don’t know, Can’t say.


2. The last time Star Plus had done an eclectic show – and an activisty one – it did phenomenally well for it in terms of perception etc, but it didn’t bring in truckloads of ratings. In fact the show – Satyamev Jayate – went off air after its third season. This time though it’s Shah Rukh Khan as the host and the invited speakers will have their own draw with crowds. We don’t know the final list of guests but the grapevine has it that Karan Johar is one of the speakers. And Oprah Winfrey has been invited. Google’s Sunder Pichai is also on the list. The show will be in Hindi, and will hence appeal to audiences across (well, so was SJ, but then that was serious stuff). It is said the show may also be dubbed or subtitled in other languages. We don’t know yet.


3. For a certain set of audiences who like to visit TED events or watch TED talks, the TED franchise has diluted considerably. There are TEDx events happening in every gully and nukkad. There could well be a TEDxRamkrishna Nagar or TEDxPandit Paluskar Chowk… TED is everywhere and in the interests of reaching out to the world, it’s really going places.


So TTINS is perhaps in TED’s line of taking the brand to the billions. Next stop: China, we are sure. 

TED, we know is a not-for-profit (and guess not-for-loss too), but over the last year-odd it has diluted its equity much with it core audience. But then this is all about building new audiences…

The show is being produced by Freemantle, so one assumes that if it’s a success, the all-new format will be taken elsewhere. Regional channels, please note. Yes, why not TED Bhojpuri or TED Telugu or Bangla. Whatever…

Let’s hear the bytes from the press release:

Uday Shankar, Chairman and CEO, Star India: “At Star we have always believed that conventional definitions of content exist only to be challenged. I have been a big fan of TED and felt that there is no reason why these ideas should not be made accessible to all Indians in a language of their choice. Television should offer a spectrum of content which includes not just the traditional definition of entertainment but also content that feeds the human passion for knowledge, which stokes curiosity and inspires people. The timing is perfect -. India is a young country with big dreams and potential. It is a time when the world is looking to India for the next big idea. I am excited by the Star TED partnership as it opens up a world of ideas and truly inspires “Nayi Soch”. Joining us in our endeavour is Shah Rukh Khan whose charisma and enthusiasm will be pivotal in connecting with our viewers.”

Actor Shah Rukh Khan: “It is a huge honour to host this show. When two giants like Star India and TED come together we’re sure to fire up a billion imaginations. Bringing the power of ideas to people’s living rooms across India and reaching out to especially the youth of our country, is something that’s really exciting. I want our youth to be inspired to think of new ideas. Simple and unique ideas that pack a punch. Ideas that can change lives.”

Chris Anderson, Head of TED: “TED Talks India Nayi Soch marks an unprecedented step in TED’s ongoing effort to bring big ideas to curious minds around the world. Combine India’s impressive thinkers and its growing appetite for knowledge with Shah Rukh Khan’s global fan following and Star’s massive reach, and we have a real shot at offering millions of people the empowerment that inspiring speakers can bring. We’re delighted at this partnership. The Star team and Shah Rukh Khan have created riveting television that takes the TED platform to a platform to a whole new place.”


You’ve read the quotes from the three biggies, you’ve read the challenges, we listed, but let’s see why this deserves to be a success:

1. Entertainment television needn’t have only mindless entertainment. Every now and then, it must look at some purposeful stuff, and stuff that can set you thinking. Almost all GECs have tried it, Star and Colors more so. Zee too has, Sony is currently running KBC.

2. Good content needs good patronage. Ask us. We champion this adage. Where else will you read a story like this? A story that points out the challenges that Star has upfront. But, then we do it. And we get the patronage, though we could do with some more. Similarly, we would urge viewers to watch the show, assuming it’s good. And we have no reason to believe it won’t.

3. Remember Shah Rukh Khan is the original television star. He is television’s child. Fauji was the name of the show. Agreed he hasn’t worked on television post that, but then he tries. And that’s what matters

4. It’ll be inspirational stuff, from many, many people. We are sure the TED standards will be maintained, so even if it’s Karan Johar, we can be sure it’ll be more than a jig or talking about all the things that he wrote in his book.


Now, let’s wait for the launch date and time. But that’ll be on another day, in another story.

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