Women get SET to be wooed

Bollywood star Dixit hosts matchmaker show

NEW DELHI — In a country where arranged marriages are still the norm, Sony Entertainment Television (SET) is launching a marriage show called “Kahin naa kahin koi hai” (There’s Someone, Somewhere).

The weekly skein, hosted by Bollywood heartthrob Madhuri Dixit (“Devdas”), preems July 29 and features a young woman meeting three men. She will spend time with them separately, discuss each of her prospective husbands and then reveal whether she wants to marry one or needs more time to decide.

SET India chief executive Kunal Dasgupta tells Variety, “Television history is about to be made in India — the marriage show is the biggest reality show on Indian television ever.”

Dixit and Dasgupta insist “Kahin” is not a gimmick to prop up the network. SET reaches into 28 million homes in South Asia and the Middle East, but it faces vicious competition in India from Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV and the privately run Zee TV, which is broadcast in 60 countries.

“This is an honest effort by us to fulfill aspirations of people seeking partners,” Dixit says.

Dating is rare except in major cities, and most marriages still are arranged between couples of the same religion and caste.

Dixit, one of Bollywood’s highest paid actresses whose own marriage to an L.A. doctor was arranged, tells Variety, “This is not a gameshow, and we do not wish to reduce the institution of marriage to a gameshow. We are trying to be useful to society.”

United Television of Mumbai produced the show, which will air Monday through Thursday.

It had shot 40 episodes and was due to air the first seg last March when TV producer Anil Gupta of Taal Communications slapped a court order on the show, claiming copyright infringement.

Gupta claimed he had developed the same show earlier called “Swayamvar” hosted by film star Vinod Khanna. The case was amicably resolved outside court last month and now Gupta is advising SET on “Kahin.”

Sony also is launching “Kya haadsa kya haqeeqat” (What You See and What Really Happened), a reality series launching Aug. 16 with 39 episodes to air over 13 weeks; and “Kuch kehti hai yeh dhun,” a musical quiz show, similar to “Name That Tune.”

(Bryan Pearson contributed to this report.)

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