Through a groundbreaking partnership with TED, the nonprofit dedicated to sharing talks from the world’s leading thinkers, 21st Century Fox’s STAR India has announced its latest pro-social television series, TED Talks India: Nayi Soch (“New Thinking”). The show will feature speakers presenting big ideas in Hindi in TED’s signature format, with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan serving as the host. The series marks the first time TED will collaborate with a major network and star to produce a TV series featuring original TED Talks in a language other than English.
“At STAR, we have always believed in pushing the boundaries with new ideas, creativity and fresh thinking,” said Uday Shankar, Chairman & CEO, STAR India. “Nobody reflects this belief more than TED and we are thrilled to collaborate with them in bringing the power of ideas to our audiences with TED Talks India: Nayi Soch. In an age of high volatility the role of ideas to fuel positive change cannot be overstated. We are delighted to have Shah Rukh Khan share our vision and lend his charisma to this exciting endeavor.”
TED Talks India: Nayi Soch will air on Star Plus, STAR’s flagship channel and its #1 Hindi general entertainment channel. TED will unveil more details about the series, including its official release date and the initial lineup of speakers, at its annual conference in Vancouver in April.
“The sheer size of Star TV’s audience, with more than 650 million viewers, makes this a significant milestone in TED’s ongoing effort to bring big ideas to curious minds,” said Juliet Blake, head of TV at TED and executive producer of the series. “Global television is opening up a new frontier for TED.”
The new series is the latest chapter in STAR’s long history of producing compelling, socially relevant content that sparks conversation and drives change. The best known example of the company’s commitment to social progress is Satyamev Jayate (“Truth Alone Prevails”), an Oprah-style talk show in which Bollywood star Aamir Khan travels the country exploring India’s most pressing social issues, from the caste system to water scarcity to LGBT rights. The series raised more than $45 million for its NGO partners over the course of its three seasons, and at one point STAR estimated the show had reached 3 out of every 4 Indians who watch TV or own a mobile phone.
Shankar spoke about SMJ’s impact on Indian culture, as well as his company’s investment in using the power of its programming to drive change, at the Paley Center for Media in New York in 2014. “Each business contributes its own share to society, but there’s a certain amount of premium that society places on media businesses,” he said. “I’ve always felt—and my bosses have always encouraged me—to challenge the status quo… Our job is to question, to focus the spotlight on what we feel needs to be observed more closely.”
Since SMJ, STAR has continued to support socially-minded programming, such as Amitabh Bachchan’s series Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi, which celebrated personal stories about those making a difference in their communities. The company has also led a number of recent awareness and activism campaigns, such as October’s promos in which cricket players replaced their last names on the backs of their jerseys with their mothers’ names. Previously, STAR launched the #CheckOutMyGame campaign to support women in sports and developed the VithU smartphone app, allowing women to send out GPS distress signals when they fear they are in danger of assault.
“Star India’s legacy of using television as an instrument of social change, and TED’s unequivocal drive to showcase simple but unique ideas in an effort to spark debate and conversation are a very powerful combination,” said Khan. “I believe TED Talks India- Nayi Soch will inspire many minds across India. It is a concept I connected with instantly, as I believe that the media is perhaps the single most powerful vehicle to inspire change. I am looking forward to working with TED and Star India, and truly hope that together, we are able to inspire young minds across India and the world.”