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In Conversation With | Star India's Gaurav Banerjee and Nikhil Madhok

A look at the history of singing-based reality shows on Indian television and one thing that is common through all of them is the sheer talent celebration and entertainment. Top-notch singers like Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal, Sonu Nigam and many more have seen a different life after their associations with such shows in Indian television.

While the last couple of years this genre has been dormant, Star Plus has taken the step towards revisiting and reviving the formant. With latest youth icon Yo Yo Honey Singh aboard, Star Plus is all set to roll-out the much talked about show – India’s Raw Star.

The weekly show will launch on Sunday, 24th August at 7 pm on Star Plus. Contenders from across the country with their unique singing styles will battle it out to become India’s Raw Star, where Yo Yo Honey Singh will be a friend, mentor and guide of the contestants. The show will be hosted by model, actress Gauhar Khan. “These are not just any contestants. They are already stars because of their immense talent. I feel they are all original performers, and are already better than me!” said Yo Yo Honey Singh on his quest to find India’s Raw Star.

Produced by Gajendra Singh’s – Sai Baba Productions, India’s Raw Star is on the lookout for the ultimate performing artist who can create their own inimitable style of singing, and is an all-round performer irrespective of the language of singing or the genre of music. The channel also plans to introduce the concept of music choreography and has roped in international choreographer Michael Schwandtl who has worked with artistes such as Katy Perry and Lady Gaga on their performances. He will work with the contestants to visually enhance their singing performance and make it a delight for viewers to watch.  The show also has the celebrated Ashish Manchanda on board who will be heading the sound team. Ashish is the only Indian sound engineer to have worked with Michael Jackson and has worked on a number of international music shows.

Commenting on the show’s concept Gajendra Singh said, “The concept and format of India’s Raw Star is designed in a way that the audiences get the feel of a live music concert while sitting back in the comfort of their living rooms. Yo Yo Honey Singh has been brought on board to mentor the contestants and handpicked the 10 contestants from across and we have some really great talent on the show.”

In Conversation with Adgully, Gaurav Banerjee – GM, Star Plus and Nikhil Madhok – SVP - Marketing, STAR Plus, tells about the differentiating factor that the show will bring to Star’s table, the innovative marketing initiatives, expectations and more.

Adgully: Brief us about the concept of India's Raw Star?
Nihkil Madhok: The show is primarily targeted to the youth of the country because we feel they will truly respond to music. Music is there in their blood and music consumption is going up. But in last few years, music-singing reality shows as a genre have not done too well. We observed that the all these music-based reality shows were based on similar line of concept/standard format. We wanted to break the format at every stage. So, keeping this in mind, the first step was to do digital audition where contestants sent their recorded files, without having to travel to different locations and struggle in the long ques. Second was not having a three member judging panel as the audience will judge the talent; third was not to have funny hosts together to add humor, and thus the choice of Gauhar Khan instead. Also, contestants are not copies of any of the playback singers; instead they all are talented individuals for whom music is there passion. Lastly, there will be no weekly eliminations so for the first five weeks all the 10 contestants will get a chance and there will be a leader board to tally the performance.

Adgully: What was the thought behind doing a reality show with Honey Singh?
Nikhil Madhok: By doing the show with Yo Yo Honey Singh we are breaking the last cliché. So, by breaking all these six clichés we are redefining the genre.
Gaurav Banerjee: Yo Yo Honey Singh is fantastic singer, celebrated worldwide and I don’t think this country has seen a singing sensation like him.

Adgully: What is the differentiated offering with Raw Star? How was the basic concept of Raw Star devised?

Gaurav Banerjee: While we at Star are revisiting the format after long time, I think not every GEC has a singing-based show. Secondly, a lot of shows that other GECs had to offer in the past haven’t particularly done so well. So it is certainly a challenging space to be in, but the fact is that the crowd is thinning from a while now. I think primarily singing shows; on Star too have not been differentiated as they could have been. So, it was important to come up with something that is high on innovation – hence this would be the first singing show that talks about finding an original singer and not another playback singer. For the first time in one of the critical criteria for being a part of the show was: Can you compose your own song? Generally the shows focus on voice quality but with Raw Star we want a composer, lyricist, song director all in one!     

Adgully: Years back Star Plus had singing reality show Voice of India, other channels had Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Indian Idol and others. Recently on Hindi GEC there is no singing reality show. So, are you bringing back that essence with fresh look by launching India's Raw Star?
Nikhil Madhok: More than waiting for the right time to do a singing reality show we were waiting for the right concept and Raw Star’s concept planning took us about 6 – 8months. We kept a keen eye on who to do the show with and how to structure the show; hence it took time for us to conceptualise it, but I believe it will be worth the effort and wait!

Adgully: Continuing to that, the channels nonfiction properties have really done wonders for the channel. Are you looking at Raw Star to be the game changer for the channel on this line?
Gaurav Banerjee: Well, we hope so..! And you are right as every show we do, we do it with passion and hard-work. Similarly a lot of effort went to conceptualizing this show and hence we are keeping our fingers crossed as our destiny is in the hands of our audiences.  More than the hard-work that we put in it’s the need of platform for fresh talent like these that we are catering to. I believe and expect this show to work well…!

Adgully: Which are the cities that participated in the show and how has been the response?
Nikhil Madhok: It's pretty well spread. So, two contestants are international; one from UK and one from US. Other 8 are from Bihar, Jaipur, Delhi, Punjab and others; these top contestants have been shot-listed from about 50,000 entries we received digitally.

Adgully: While you have today's youth icon Yo Yo Honey Singh on board (which acts as a magnet by itself), what are the other things you plan to present to your audiences with the show?
Gaurav Banerjee: I feel the concept itself is a magnet..! This show is about presenting chart busters in much different way. Like one of our contestant will perform Gaaliyan from Ek Villain, which is a trending song but the expression of the song we came up with was extremely different and new. We expect young generation to look forward for the show for these. The second interesting thing that will act as magnet is that in a musical show choreography will be a point of concern with an aim to make the show and performances should look attractive.

Adgully: Share with us the marketing plans for India’s Raw Star?
Nikhil Madhok: It is 360 degree marketing campaign but we are focusing more on digital. So, digitally we have done innovation on Youtube. It's first of its kind in world, so when you log on to site for watching video you'll have Honey Singh’s promo there and when you'll try to skip the video, he'll pick up the skip button and will say you can't skip me just the way you can't skip the Raw Star contestants and this activity has it has created lot of buzz. We have contextualized the promos and tried to make it not the same standard promo everywhere. So there are different promos for different sites and different consumers. Contestants themselves will be interactive on social media pages. We also have behind the scenes digital content called as the G factor, which is hosted by Gauhar. These contests will not be available on the show. In outdoor, we'll be doing 3D outdoor campaigns in Mumbai and Delhi. We also have innovations on music channels, with the launch the music channels will be playing Honey Singh's songs back to back, with Honey Singh saying in the beginning- if you like my songs listen to these songs but to listen to songs which are even better come and watch Raw Stars. So, there are 8,000 spots plan on the Star network giving the show massive push. Contestants will be available on radio from next week onwards.

Adgully: While Yo Yo and Star has managed to make their respective presence felt with across the country, what is the target audience and geographies you are looking at?
Gaurav Banerjee: The show is on Star Plus which targets different age-groups being a story telling platform. Hence we are looking at all geographies and all age-groups…

Adgully: Which are sponsors on board for Raw Star? How has been the response on those lines?
Nikhil Madhok and Gaurav Banerjee: We have 5-6 sponsors including names like Maruti, karbonn, and few more are coming on the board. The response has been really good again because this is a differentiated content

Adgully: In the non-fiction, we learn that the channel has some new shows up on offer. Shed some light on the same?
Nikhil Madhok: Having shows six days a week, we are doing really well. Sundays with India's Raw Star (non-fiction) and Airlines (fiction) we will have fresh programming on board. Both the shows are targeted to young audience. The channel Star Plus itself has become significantly younger in past two years like shows such as Mahabharat, Yeh Hai Mohabatein, Ek Hasina Thi, Veera and others.

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