Star gets smart: ‘Child Genius’

Show focuses on tests, interviews; skein to bow May 25

NEW DELHI — While reality TV in other parts of the world sets out to find who can survive longest on an island or live with roommates from hell, in India the focus is more cerebral — finding the brightest kid in the land.

In January, Rupert Murdoch’s Star World satcaster launched a search for a young genius — and some 18,000 whiz kids applied.

The numbers have now been whittled down to 320, and a 27-episode TV event will be launched May 25 entitled “India Child Genius.”

During the hourlong weekly show, the children 10 to 13 will be tested on verbal and nonverbal reasoning skills, literary and artistic abilities and mathematical and scientific concepts.

A standard quiz will grill the brainboxes on geography, history, mythology, the English language and general knowledge. Their ability to spell will also be put under the television spotlight.

The show will be run along the lines of “Pop Idols,” including interviewing kids, parents and teachers, with the aim of turning the winner into a national star.

Prizes worth 5 million rupees (about $110,000) are at stake.

Star, which dominates satellite television ratings in India, made its name in July 2000 when it launched “Kaun banega crorepati,” the Hindi equivalent of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” hosted by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

Station execs are confident “Genius” will draw the same sort of auds.

With emphasis in India on academic excellence — to the point where some children commit suicide when they fail exams — their confidence may be justified.

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