Come 14 November and India will witness one of its most celebrated icons Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar play his 200th and final test match against the West Indies.
Even as everyone - from brands to hotels to television channels - is busy planning the best possible farewell for the little master, one channel has hit upon a unique way to mark the occasion.
The channel in question - Star Sports 3 (Hindi) - will debut a new chat show, Heroes, on the very same day, featuring 13 top cricketers from across the globe, starting with none other than Sachin.
Heroes, which is more in Hindi and less in English, has been created by Greymatter Entertainment (GME) in collaboration with Star Sports and Smaash located at Lower Parel, Mumbai.
Speaking about Heroes, GME owner Rahul Sarangi says: “It is a unique chat show, where the world’s top cricketers will be seen chatting informally with kids in the age group of 7-14 years. As for Sachin, he is the biggest icon that India has ever had. He has given us more smiles than any other icon.”
Apart from Sachin, the 13-episode series will feature Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan and Kumara Sangakara among other cricketers.
Explaining the thought process behind Heroes, Sarangi says: “It is simple; it is an entertainment chat show, and yet inspiring. This is also in sync with Star Sports’ new campaign ‘I believe’. The show is for kids to find the heroes within themselves.”
Elaborating on the show being in sync with ‘I believe’, Sarangi says: “If you see cricketers today, they come from small towns, having big dreams. The reason they had bigger dreams was because they grew up watching Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid in their younger days. So, through this show, we give these kids an opportunity to come closer to their heroes and understand what they do when off the field.”
Sarangi informs that around 60 kids are part of the show and pose candid questions to the cricketers. Apparently, six to seven cameras were used during the shoot, with three edit machines to edit the show. Since the makers needed a very informal environment, the series was shot inside Smaash.
According to Sarangi, Heroes is about inspirational stories of cricketers, minus any gyaan. “Since it is a ‘No gossip’ show, cricketers are without guard: talking everything under the sun,” he says, pointing out that they will be showcased in a completely different avatar. The show has been moderated by Roshni Chopra.
He substantiates: “Virat Kohli will be seen teaching kids how to dance, Sangakara will teach violin and Raina will be seen cooking. And yet, all of them will talk about their childhood and what made them the heroes that they are today. It is through the inspirational figure that the kids will get to hear inspirational stories.”
Sarangi goes on to reveal that Sachin will be seen teaching kids how to play spin against Shane Warne. “Smaash, which has a 3D facility, will show Warne balling. During the episode, Sachin will be seen teaching the kids how to bat on such kind of spin ball delivery,” he illustrates.
It is a unique chat show, where the world’s top cricketers will be seen chatting informally with kids in the age group of 7-14 years says Rahul Sarangi
Rubbishing any suggestions of the show being scripted, Sarangi adds: “Considering the show is not scripted, it is the kids who come up with the questions. It is just filtered by the channel and also us, to ensure that the questions aren’t repetitive. We keep the house open for questions. We don’t feed any questions.”
About the collaboration, he says: “It was a concept well thought by Star Sports. The channel wanted to do a chat show. They approached us with the brief, after which together we brain stormed and came up with the concept.”
Sarangi explains that the cricketers featured on Heroes were decided together by all three parties involved. “The next step was to convince them to be part of the show, considering all of them are popular players, it was difficult to get their time,” he says.
The cricketers spent approximately five hours on the sets for the shoot. “We shot one hour of content to come up with a 24 minute episode,” he says, adding it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the kids. “They are not a studio audience. Here, they sit so close to the cricketer that they can touch him and also interact with him like they were sitting with him in their living room.”
A considerable amount of time went into the making of Heroes. “A thorough research was conducted to understand what is palatable to the audience, what would be fun for the kids and yet make sense to our audiences watching the show. Even designing the look and feel of every episode took sufficient amount of time,” says Sarangi.
How confident are the makers about the show? “These days shows are made on conviction,” replies Sarangi, adding “We had two kids’ managers to look into the needs of the kids. Since we were shooting with kids, we had to take care of the hygiene and many other issues relating to shooting.”
It’s an in-house creative team that worked on the show. “Almost 40 people sat on production, post production, editing, research etc for the show. We don’t believe in taking freelancers for shows like this,” Sarangi rounds off.