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National Geographic Channel got Bollywood star Akshay Kumar to anchor their seven-episode serial on history of martial arts

Bollywood and television have finally joined hands. The stars of Karan Johar’s film Kaal have collaborated with the National Geographic Channel to host a stunning wildlife series. And they are not alone. Many other top stars are being snapped up by channels for shows and serials…

Television is no longer the lesser cousin of Bollywood and film stars are not averse to hosting exclusive shows for top-rated channels. National Geographic Channel’s recent programming overhaul in India proves just that. One of the important aspects of this revamping is a serious attempt at wooing the masses by roping in film celebrities to anchor shows.

A gripping series titled Kaal: Mysteries of the Deep Jungle featuring the cast of Karan Johar’s latest film Kaal was aired on the National Geographic Channel in April this year. The aim in joining hands with the channel was two pronged - to highlight this new genre film shot in Corbett Park and to unravel the seemingly unfathomable secrets of the rainforests using cutting edge gadgets and techno wizardry.

Stars of the film Kaal, John Abraham, Ajay Devgan, Esha Deol, Lara Dutta and Vivek Oberoi all anchored a show each. Along with showcasing jaw-dropping visuals of a 500-year-old Brazil nut tree that is home to many species and examining a spider that can eat an entire chicken the stars discussed the conservation of tigers, a topic of great national concern these days.

The other highlights of the show were some of the oddest movements in the animal kingdom – including a Michael Jackson style moonwalk and encountering the world’s greatest predator, The Strangler Fig.


This is not the first time that National Geographic Channel has used Bollywood Stars to draw in more audiences and increase their TRP’s. Last summer the channel sizzled when Akshay Kumar made his small screen debut with seven electrifying serials that revolved around his first love – martial arts.

The Khiladi of the Indian film industry appeared on television for the first time with a series titled The Seven Deadly Arts With Akshay Kumar. In the seven episodes, Kumar outlined the 2000-year-old unique culture and history of martial arts that enriches forms like Kung Fu, Karate, Akido, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Capoeira and the very Indian Kalaripayattu.

The star who started his career as a martial arts trainer, was absolutely delighted at the chance of being able to reach out to such a large number of people. But in the end it was not just Akshay who was pleased at the chance of coming on television. Crores of fans were more than thrilled to see their favourite star flex his muscles on the small screen.

History With Hayden

Diana Hayden as anchor of Biography on the History channel

Following in NGC’s footsteps, other channels have also started cashing in on the filmstar-as- anchor trend. For the next three months Diana Hayden is all set to take a fresh look at the past as she hosts the all new series of Biography on the History Channel giving viewers a peep into the private lives of public figures.

The charming young lady is all set to change the way you view history. She guides you through the turbulent lives of Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat. She tutors on the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi and Jacques Chirac. She lectures on meditation and the Dalai Lama and lets the music soothe the audiences while they get to know Beethoven.

Diana talks of renowned statesmen, Hollywood celebrities and legendary tennis stars most of whom people have admired or held in awe. She discusses people who have touched our lives in different ways.

The channel is enthusiastic about the new show and the excitement is brewing Monday to Friday. And why not. After Amitabh Bachchan set the trend with Kaun Banega Crorepati, channels are grabbing at the opportunity to do exclusive shows with top stars to secure their share of the TRP pie and the stars are laughing all the way to the bank.

Except one. Hema Malini. She says she’s not enjoying doing Kamini Damini a saas bahu saga with a twist. As an idea doing a double role on TV was very exciting, says Malini who played a similar double role in Seeta Aur Geeta in 1972. But soon the euphoria wore off as she discovered that TV is tough work.

She is convinced that viewers don’t want to see big screen stars on television. Yet, she adds, the channels keep making that mistake.

But ask National Geographic Channel and it will disagree whole-heartedly. After all, some of its most successful India-specific programmes have been hosted b y filmstars.




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