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Bollywood superstars rake it in on reality TV
For Bollywood superstars, the real show is now happening on TV. At a time when top actors such as Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan and
Amitabh Bachchan have had to slash their rates per movie by up to 40%, fees they are offered for appearing in reality TV shows have seen a spurt.

While Salman Khan’s Wanted is doing well in cinemas, it’s been months since Akshay Kumar or Big B delivered a blockbuster in the box-office. But, according to broadcasters, they can still attract millions to the tube and ensure decent advertisement revenues for a programme.

According to industry insiders, Akshay Kumar is charging Rs 1 crore per episode for Khatron Ke Khiladi, the reality show he is anchoring on Colors, while Salman Khan’s fee for Dus Ka Dum on Sony Entertainment Television is estimated at Rs 60-70 lakh per episode. These figures are 15-20% more than what they were paid for the same serials last year.

It’s a completely different story in Bollywood where the recent economic slowdown has caused a severe funds crunch, forcing production houses to rationalise their budget and slash talent cost, which had been multiplying during the boom years, by 30-40%.

Akshay Kumar is reported to have slashed his fees to Rs 32-33 crore from Rs 40-45 crore levels. Salman Khan, too, according to industry insiders, slashed his fees for Wanted. Broadcasters say they, too, have rationalised their cost structure following the slowdown, but the appetite for Bollywood stars has increased.

Getting stars for reality shows is a win-win situation for both the star and the producer, according to Colors CEO Rajesh Kamat, who has roped in Amitabh Bachchan for Bigg Boss 3 as a ‘pop philosopher’.

“Television is a platform for Bollywood stars to connect with the audience. Besides, the stars are required to commit shorter spans of time for such shows. But for the channel, it means a lot of buzz leading to high viewership and healthy interest from advertisers,” Mr Kamat said. Colors has roped in Vodafone as its title sponsor for Bigg Boss 3 and associate sponsors include Sunsilk, Max New York Life, Garnier and General Motors.

According to a senior executive with a general entertainment channel (GEC), A-grade Bollywood stars are usually paid in the range of Rs 60 lakh-Rs 1 crore per episode, while smaller celebrities like Soha Ali Khan — who appeared in Godrej Khelo Jeeto Jiyo on Star TV network — are paid Rs 10 lakh-20 lakh per day.

Television stars get anywhere between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh for hosting or judging reality shows, said the executive, requesting anonymity. Over the past several months, reality shows have outdone regular serials on entertainment channels attracting impressive TV ratings and giving a platform to brands for launches and re-launches.

The reality shows have resurrected the flagging fortunes of the channels as well as that of stars as well. Akshay’s Chandni Chowk to China and 8x10 Tasveer sank at the box-office, while his latest release Kambakkht Ishq, too, failed to impress the box-office. But his Khatron Ke Khiladi on TV has done exceptionally well.
Madhuri Dixit’s comeback film Yash Raj’s Aaja Nachle was a flop, but speculation is rife that she’s going to judge Sony Entertainment’s upcoming Dance Premier League.

“Anchoring a reality show on television is lucrative, offers good money and has not seen the kind of drops in fees stars have taken for movies,” says Anirban Blah, the outgoing CEO of celebrity management firm Globosport.
Akshay Kumar committed 16 days for Khatron Ke Khiladi. Amitabh Bachchan is shooting one-and-half days per week as Bigg Boss host, and he will need to give 18-20 days over the next three months. Salman worked for 32 episodes in the first season of Dus Ka Dum.

Broadcasters have rubbished rumours such as Big B being offered Rs 126 crore for Bigg Boss 3 — at Rs 1.5 crore per episode — nearly twice of what he got for Kaun Banega Crorepati.

“The broadcaster has to recover costs, which would be impossible if they pay such huge amounts to stars as ad rates for reality shows are yet to reach the levels of cricket tournaments,” said Rohit Gupta, president — sales of MSM India (earlier Sony Entertainment).

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