TED Talks-a creative breakout proposition in mainstream TV:Uday Shankar
In a global first collaboration, Star Plus unites with global platform TED to launch ‘TED Talks India Nayi Soch’ in the country. The TV series will be hosted by Shah Rukh Khan. TED is known for spotlighting and spreading powerful ideas that transform how audiences see their world.
‘TED Talks India Nayi Soch’ is TED’s first collaboration with a major network to produce a television series featuring original TED Talks in a language other than English. The show will bring some of the best innovators and thinkers of Indian origin to the centerstage. The show captures an eclectic mix of speakers, thinkers and doers, who have questioned norms and brought forth cutting edge ideas that have the potential to inspire billions. All these ideas which originate from personal belief and self-motivation bear testimony to the ingenuity of Indians. The show can also be viewed on Hotstar, Star’s online video streaming platform.
Though the launch date for ‘TED Talks India Nayi Soch’ is yet to be announced, it was revealed that the show will feature lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar, television producer Ekta Kapoor, director Karan Johar, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Indian women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj, among others.
Eclectic, diverse and intense
Speaking at the launch event, Uday Shankar, Chairman and CEO, Star India, said, “At Star, we have always believed that conventional definitions of content exist only to be challenged. I have been a big fan of TED and felt that there is no reason why these ideas should not be made accessible to all Indians in a language of their choice. Television should offer a spectrum of content which includes not just the traditional definition of entertainment but also content that feeds the human passion for knowledge, which stokes curiosity and inspires people. The timing is perfect – India is a young country with big dreams and potential. It is a time when the world is looking to India for the next big idea. I am excited by the Star TED partnership as it opens up a world of ideas and truly inspires ‘Nayi Soch’. Joining us in our endeavour is Shah Rukh Khan, whose charisma and enthusiasm will be pivotal in connecting with our viewers.”
Shankar admitted that it was a challenge for Star to convince TED to bring the show to India, and that too in the national language. “In some ways what TED offers is also an outcome of what regular television or print media don’t offer. So, we thought if at all it was possible for Star to step into that space and work with TED to bring all those ideas worth spreading and make it accessible to a whole group of people who didn’t have access to them. Regardless of the power and popularity of TED, there was one thing that wasn’t happening: people who couldn’t appreciate or consume content in the English language were left out of benefitting from TED. So we thought of persuading the TED team to consider what we were proposing to do. It’s testament to their remarkable vision and commitment that they were open to the idea. And here we are today, with probably the most exciting creative breakout proposition in mainstream media in the world.”
Continuing further, he said, “I was not happy to see television losing out as a creative solution for the common man. At Star India, we have focused our energy and resources to come up with something that will challenge the established stereotype of creativity and content for entertainment television. TED Talks on Star Plus is an outcome of that.”
“We are happy to bring an idea as eclectic, diverse and intense on TV in a language which is not considered a means of mass communication for intellectual ideas even in this country. We are proud to bring ‘TED Talks’ to the people in Hindi,” Shankar added.
While he refrained from revealing the investments made in bringing the show to India, the Star India Chairman & CEO insisted that material resources should not dictate the quality of the creative product. He further said, “This show requires a lot of effort in terms of picking up the right kind of talent. The research is deep and intensive. It’s been in the making for months. When we are doing a show like this, the money that we have spent on it becomes the least of our concerns.”
Chris Anderson, Head of TED, added here, “‘TED Talks India Nayi Soch’ marks an unprecedented step in TED’s ongoing effort to bring big ideas to curious minds around the world. Combine India’s impressive thinkers and its growing appetite for knowledge with Shah Rukh Khan’s global fan following and Star’s massive reach, and we have a real shot at offering millions of people the empowerment that inspiring speakers can bring. We’re delighted at this partnership. The Star team and Shah Rukh Khan have created riveting television that takes the TED platform to a whole new place.”
The SRK factor
With ‘TED Talks India Nayi Soch’, Shah Rukh Khan makes a return to the small screen, albeit as a host. Khan was earlier seen as a host in two game shows – a season of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ and ‘Kya Aap Panchvi Pass Se Tez Hain?’
Commenting on the characteristics that Star was looking at in the host for ‘TED Talks India’, Shankar said, “That person had to have known intellect that doesn’t easily come to anyone. We also realised that this person really had to get excited about the power of an idea before we could make the power of the idea come alive on Star Plus.”
“When we started engaging with that challenge, the list turned out to be really short with just one name – none other than Shah Rukh Khan. He is probably the only person who really epitomises the intellectual and creative curiosity that goes way beyond what he does on a daily basis,” Shankar further said.
On his association with the show, Shah Rukh Khan said, “It is a huge honour to host this show. When two giants like Star India and TED come together, we are sure to fire up a billion imaginations. Bringing the power of ideas to people’s living rooms across India and reaching out to especially the youth of our country, is something that’s really exciting. I want our youth to be inspired to think of new ideas. Simple and unique ideas that pack a punch. Ideas that can change lives.”