Over the past 56 years, a book recording the chronicles of human grit and achievement has turned into a publishing phenomenon, selling millions of copies worldwide. In 1998, the Guinness Book of World Records made its television debut as Guinness World Records Primetime in the US. Now, a localized version of the show Guinness World Records—Ab India Todega will be telecast on Colors with actors Preity Zinta and Shabbir Ahluwalia as hosts.
“After China, India is the second country in Asia to localize the format of the show,” says Ashwini Yardi, programming head, Colors. “Audiences will see participants attempt to create new records in addition to breaking existing international records... All this with a local Indian flavour.”
The show will see Indians trying to break more than 70 Guinness World Records. Expect to see stunts such as a participant trying to swallow the maximum number of swords while juggling, the highest number of dance spins in a minute, the most over-the-shoulder cocktail flares in a minute, and a young boy attempting to break the existing world record for the highest number of omelette flips in a minute.
Colors began the campaign by asking people across the country to send a DVD of their performance which could qualify as a record attempt. Participants were selected accordingly.
The show will have Ahluwalia travelling with the crew across the country—from Baramati to Bhopal—to film contenders. A Guinness World Records adjudicator will accompany him to deem new records. Zinta, on the other hand, will goad participants on from her vantage point at the studio; and each episode will have four-five studio acts in each episode. The producers say the one outdoor act shot on location is their bid to incorporate local Indian flavour and create a niche, given the plethora of studio-based reality shows on television.
Raymond Marshall, head of legal and business affairs, Guinness World Records, says they had always been keen on entering the Indian TV scene but were waiting for the right opportunity. “And then we met with people from (the production house) Miditech at the Cannes TV festival around 12 months ago,” he says, adding, “We liked their spirit. Miditech then talked with Viacom and reached an agreement for an Indian version of the show.” Marshall goes on to say that Indian television viewers would not have seen a production on this scale produced locally.
Yardi is banking on the fact that India is the fourth largest contributor to the Guinness Book of World Records, a statistic she hopes will ensure “an increasing number of new records”.
However, all “local” Indian records won’t find their way to the book. Marshall says the Guinness Book of World Records will recognize every achievement with a certificate and a medal. But making it to the book isn’t a certainty. “Many variables influence what gets into the book, chief among them is the fact that the book goes to print in May (annually). So we can only list records created before that date. But we will try and do a special feature on the Indian records,” says Marshall.
The American version of the show ran for just three years, 1998-2001, and failed to win over audiences and critics, in part due to the disturbing nature of the records attempted. Yardi assures us that her team has gone the extra mile to ensure Indian viewers are not bombarded with unpalatable images, especially because the show has a prime-time slot (it replaces popular dance show Chak Dhoom Dhoom).
This also prompted the decision to rope in the vivacious Zinta as a show host. Perhaps grit and adventure laced with a smile is just the thing for television?
Guinness World Records—Ab India Todega is scheduled to go on air from 18 March on Colors, at 9pm every Friday and Saturday.