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UTV Bindass: When prince plays the pauper
Taking a cue from the success of Slumdog Millionaire, television channel UTV Bindass is launching a reality show titled The Big Switch. The show revolves around 12 youngsters picked from affluent backgrounds who will live with 12 slum kids. They will have to perform tasks like selling trinkets and other wares at traffic signals or polishing shoes at the railway station. Of course, they will also have to do the regular household chores of a slum kid as well. Finally, each will help the slum child realise his dream as well.

“Each rich kid will have to eat, sleep, work and partner with one slum kid,” says Bindass’ channel head, Heather Gupta. Adds UTV CEO Zarina Mehta: “The idea was to put two clashing worlds together and we’re sure the outcome will be magical.”

What makes Mehta confident is that the show fits in well with Bindass’ positioning of a channel for the youth and first jobbers. Reality show watchers are largely between 17 and 22 years of age — that’s also the age of the rich kids roped in for The Big Switch.

Research carried out by entertainment channels shows that people in this age group are impatient and over-stimulated, and have thus taken a shine to reality television. “Bindass is about never before experience and we are constantly experimenting,” explains Mehta. “So, on one hand we launch a show like The Big Switch and on the other we do a comedy reality show or a travel reality show, all of which suits our target audience.”

Bindass is spending generously on marketing the new show. Apart from the mandatory advertisements, the show will also see a lot of on-ground activities. It will also have Bollywood celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Kkaran Johar and John Abraham making an appearance. Naturally, all this will need a fat budget. Typically, reality shows are far more expensive than soap operas. Reportedly the channel is spending a whopping Rs 8.5 crore on the project, with Rs 4 crore solely dedicated to its marketing. “It’s a big show,” Mehta claims. Bindass’ other reality shows such as 21, Beg Borrow Steal and Cash Cab have been made on much smaller budgets.

Reality shows as a genre has caught the imagination of the Indian audience. Channel after channel is launching a new one everyday, so much so that even music channels like Channel V and MTV have tweaked their content in line with this trend. Not surprisingly, Bindass’ content mix relies more on reality shows than soap operas. And over the next three months, the channel will launch six more reality shows. “Our competitors are Channel V, MTV and Zoom and while we still have fictional content, reality shows are far more attractive,” says Mehta. The ratio of reality shows to soap operas stands at 4:1 for the channel.

However, Bindass still lags behind MTV and is neck and neck with Zoom in the viewership sweepstakes. But Mehta is hopeful The Big Switch could tilt the scales in Bindass’ favour.

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UTV Bindass is a bakwaas channel for girls
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