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Exclusive | Voice is all about blind auditions: Endemol's Deepak Dhar

Endemol has always experimented with the type of content bringing in the industry. Be it bringing the Indian version of Big Brother or Fear Factor to India. Their journey started way back in 2006 and ever since, they've had a good run in the industry. They are back with an Indian adaptation of International singing reality show The Voice which premiers on &TV on 6th June. In October 2011, Imagine TV, which was on-air at that time had also made an announcement to bring VOICE, later the channel went off-air. 

Adgully caught up exclusively with Deepak Dhar, Managing Director & CEO, Endemol at the launch of Voice, who spoke to us about their newest show Voice, their path breaking show Bigg Boss and the upcoming projects. Edited excerpts:

AG: What kind of growth have you seen in the industry in terms of reality shows?

DD: Well I think, it’s been very healthy and encouraging because reality shows were only on weekends and now they’ve moved to the weekday time band which has opened up a volume of appetite for reality shows. I think the move from Saturday/Sunday or Friday/Saturday to Monday to Sunday, where Bigboss is, that’s where Fear factor is and a lot of other format shows as well. So I think that in itself is maybe a 300% to 400% jump, it’s kind of appetite for reality content.

AG: Do you think Voice is going to be a long standing show?

DD: Clearly it has the legs; it has proved in so many markets. It’s a pity that a show like Voice did not come in 2-3 years ago. I’m surprised that a singing show like voice is a late entrant in the Indian market. But now we have got it to India and for the Indian audiences.

AG: How will the format be different from other reality singing shows?

DD: It is clearly very differentiated. It’s all about blind auditions, its lot about the voice and not so much about the appearance or the package. It’s also about the coaches wooing the talents to join their teams. This is the first phase and in the second phase, the round of battle begins. So it’s an absolutely new show and concept and there is a lot in it for the viewers.

AG: Is this an experiment for Endemol to get into the music reality genre?

DD: No, we actually did experiment very early on in our career, we did a very successful music show called ‘Jo jeeta Wohi Superstar’ on Star Plus, we did 2 seasons of that show. After that it’s just that we got very busy doing other shows like BigBoss and Fear Factor etc which are time consuming also we were looking for the right format to come in the country.

AG: What do you think works in the Indian market?

DD: I wish I knew what actually works. I have always believed it’s not about the auditions it’s about the emotions, it’s not about the reality, it’s about the character that emerges out of that reality. If you have good characters you have a great show, if you have the right emotions you’ve got a right show. So, in Voice also, everybody is on tender hooks, even the vocal coaches are on tender hooks, there’s a sense of insecurity that a particular contestant may not come into their team. All the coaches need to be as good as each other. So the overall competition is very two layered, so that’s really the strength of this format.

AG: Are looking at digital content for this?

DD: Of course! Digital is a huge leg in this format, and now a lot of people are sampling content on the closest screen possible. Not just for this format but also for Bigg Boss and Fear Factor as well, we do a lot in terms of digital content.

AG: What are the challenges faced while catering to the needs of the audience?

DD: People now don’t want the regular stuff, they’ve already seen it, and most of the regular stuff has been catered to by us only. People now want differentiated stuff, people want disruptive stuff. So gone are those same old reality shows or same old singing kind of shows. So that’s where Voice fits in at the right place at the right time because people are looking for fresh content. You’ll be shocked at the kind of talent that we’ve got in the show, you’ll be shocked at the kind of surprises and disappointments we’ve got in the show, so that’s what the show is all about, the surprise element and audiences want them.

AG: Are Rural Indian audience taken into account?

DD: Of course, why not. Clearly, everybody loves the small town story, everybody loves it. In movies, in reality shows, in fiction shows, it’s a great way to tell a story, great way to show that everybody has an equal chance at stardom.

AG: Which was the path breaking show for Endemol over the years?

DD: I would say Bigg Boss, because it created a genre by itself. With this show, reality moved from Saturday/Sunday or Friday/Saturday to Monday to Sunday time band. So that was a milestone and we can’t forget that. We do that every year and it has grown and we’ve taken it into various different markets. Bigg Boss has become a company itself for us, we run Bigg Boss 300 days in Hindi, Bangla, Kannadda, very soon in Telugu and Malayalam. So it’s become a cult, it has its own little things.

AG: What is your take on utilisation of resources? Has it become an issue these days?

DD: Yes, clearly because the industry has grown may be 10 -20 times, the resources haven’t really kept pace with it, so obviously there’s challenges, challenge to get good talent, production talent, technical talent but having said that, we as a company have been in the industry for last 10 years and we’ve got the same set of technical minds working with us for last 10 years. So retention of talent is something, we at Endemol do really very well.

AG: Any new shows you’re looking at?

DD: Bigg Boss, Khatron Ke Khiladi, Voice, a lot of fiction shows that will come out of Endemol, we’re doing a lot of original digital formats that are getting produced out of India. Also we have a movie being released in August/September which is a co production with Dharma called ‘Brothers’. We have a very busy 2015.

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