Talent shows search for new stars

Modicum of fame can radically alter career prospects

NEW DELHI — India’s reaching for the stars in a big way.

A number of TV channels have begun talent searches around the country for new stars, models and veejays.

Balaji Telefilms kicked off the star-gazing when it announced it needed six young faces for soap queen Ekta Kapoor’s new TV show, “Kitni mast hai zindagi” (How Fun Is Life).

It began staging auditions across India, where even a modicum of fame can radically alter one’s future career prospects.

Some 10,000 youths turned up for the first audition in New Delhi in early July, and large crowds are expected when the talent hunt moves to other cities, as well as to 100 smaller towns and villages across the country.

The six who are selected will go through rigorous training, including lessons in acting, dancing, action, voice projection and camera moves.

They will then be cast in the Hindi-lingo fiction serial, expected to start airing on MTV India in three half-hour episodes a week from late September.

Star TV has announced a nationwide hunt to select the cast of a big-budget film, a competition which chief operating officer Samir Nair says will be an annual event.

Zee TV is already taking a team to smaller towns and cities for its talent search program, “Cinestars ki khoj” (The Search for Stars), which is looking for talent for its own big-budget film.

Models, too, are being sought, with Channel V holding a nationwide hunt for wannabes in its “Get Gorgeous” program.

MTV’s tradition of holding a veejay hunt every year since 1998 has now been emulated by children’s channel Nickelodeon, which held a contest called “Chhota Veejay” (Young Veejay) won by 12-year-old Shiv Tandon.

The talent search route has paid dividends for some.

MTV musicvideo maker Ken Ghosh spent six months scouring India in 2003, during which he handpicked 11 candidates to shoot his film “Ishq vishq” (Love, Schlove).

The movie proved popular, and launched the careers of Bollywood stars Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao.

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