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Mr & Miss Bollywood, final auditions begin

Parag Desai

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The final round of the 'Sahara Manoranjan Mr & Miss Bollywood' contest, the largest ever talent hunt in India to unearth 30 actors, began here today. The three-day auditions are being held at the historic Filmistan Studios at Goregaon.

The final 74 aspirants, culled from the over 40,000 entries that were initially received from all over the country, assembled in Mumbai on August 2 to begin their grueling three-day session. The performances will be judged by a panel comprising of well-know Bollywood luminaries like Karan Johar, Ashutosh Gowariker, Mahesh Bhatt, Smita Thackeray, Pankaj Parashar, Priyadarshan, E. Niwas and Ken Ghosh among others. Some of these personalities will also interact with the participants and give them tips on acting.

Thirty actors will be selected from these 74 and they will be groomed for a career in showbiz. Four of these 30 will be given lead roles in films. The winners will be trained in Mumbai and then launch into showbiz. The 26 other winners will be given assignments in television serials.

The event is being managed by Percept D' Mark and audited by Ernst & Young. Percept and Sahara will soon be announcing a film that will launch two of the winners. Filmmakers have already promised to give breaks to the winners, in their forthcoming projects.

The talent hunt kicked off late March 2004. Road shows were held in four cities where Celina Jaitly, Neha Dupia, Bipasa Basu and Dia Mirza put in appearances as brand ambassadors. Entries were received from all over India as well as UK, US, Pakistan and the UAE. These were short-listed and preliminary auditions were held across India. From these were short-listed the 74 finalists.
'Mr & Miss Bollywood' recognizes that in a country as large as ours superstar hunts are essential to discover new talent hidden in the remote corners.

Talent hunts, some facts

- Superstar hunts conducted in real earnest without a profit motive have invariably played a significant part in identifying outstanding fresh talent for the entertainment industry.

- Some of the biggest stars of Hindi cinema have emerged from Superstar hunts. Like Rajesh Khanna, the megastar of the '70s, and Dharmendra.

- Asha Parekh and Sadhana, two of the biggest stars of their time had emerged out of a superstar hunt conducted by a leading film studio in the late '50s.

- In recent times, Shahid Kapoor, one of the most sought-after new faces of the day, had emerged from a superstar hunt. Shreya Ghoshal, winner of this year's National Award for the best playback singer, was discovered through a superstar hunt conducted by a television channel. So was Sunidhi Chauhan, one of today's sought-out singers.

The need for new actors has grown enormously in the last few years, especially in view of the changing pattern of filmmaking in Mumbai. Nevertheless, only a negligible percentage of the actors coming into the industry are adequately trained, primarily because there has been no organized system of identifying talent across the country and grooming it specifically for Bollywood. To meet the contingency, filmmakers have been, in the last few years, reaching out to beauty pageants and modeling agencies.

Recognizing the lacuna, Sahara Manoranjan and Percept D'Mark evolved a systematic process to reach out to aspiring actors all over the country and provide them with a platform to express their potential and vie for a place among the stars.


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