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And the winners are...



Niret Alva... More than vintage stuff. Photo: S. Arneja.

NOT SO long ago, buying a car used to be like building a house. All your life you plan for your dream house and as financial circumstances would have it in most cases, you succeed wee bit ahead of your retirement day. The same used to be true while buying a car, one could usually save money for buying one vehicle in one's lifetime. But, as the producer of the well-known automobile show on BBC World, "Wheels" would say, "the so-called EMI syndrome has changed it all now and quite fast too." True to it, now a person with a small pocket can also hope to buy a car "following his heart than the head".

And adding spin to the customers' choice and "also as a kind of guideline", Niret, through the platform of this one-hour programme, has come out this past week with yet another edition of Wheels Awards, naming names of India's best cars and bikes in 2003 along with a Viewers' Choice Award. And as this suave, on-the-ball car enthusiast states, "The chief criterion of more than half of the awards categories is pricing".

"As car loans are easily available, I often get calls from viewers asking for suggestions as to which car to go for. In most cases, their prime lookout is pricing. However much we focus on technology, a common man does not care much about it. The concept of value for money still works for him," says this chief of Miditech Television Limited, which rolls out the country's first-ever car reviewing show. He says, looking at the awards list, "many in the automobile industry are surprised as it is absolutely customer-driven."

In total, the awards given away for the second consecutive year, has 10 categories, the added one this year being the Viewers' Choice Award. "We received about 1,50,000 hits on the mail box from viewers in the Yahoo site for the award. Then the results were picked up by a computer," he informs. Also, appreciating the tremendous viewers' participation, a lucky draw was picked, the winner of which won two tickets to Kuala Lumpur to witness the Malaysian Grand Prix in March, 2004. Besides eight awards assessed by price range and that of the viewers award, there is also one for the Best Bike of the Year.

Besides labelling cars and bikes for the last five years, Niret, along with brother Nikhil are also in to chasing "The Lions of Gir" to doing Commando!, a reality show on BBC World to scripting "The Great Descent", filming an international white water expedition down the Brahmaputra, and now the serial "Saara Akaash" on Star Plus. "We will next be seen on The National Geographic doing a programme on wild life", Niret informs and then tags on, "We are also talking with Discovery for another show". Well, must say, this is some channel surfing!

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

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