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    Our sandy beaches and forts see pops of colour as 180 Colombians camp out for a reality show on Bogota’s most popular channel

    WHILE even Chennaiites might cringe at the thought, here are 180 Colombians camping along the scorching ECR for the past two months. The reality show that they are shooting here, called Desafio, airs on Caracol television, the biggest channel in Colombia.  “We were searching for some of the most traditional places and that’s when the embassy of Bogota recommended Mamallapuram to find the real and old style traditional India,” begins Marcelo Grecco, production head and director of the show. The reality show, where travel meets adventure, takes up most of their waking hours. “We wake up at 5 am, have breakfast at 5.30 am and begin moving to the location for the day by 6 am. We set up the equipment and begin shooting from 8 am and go on till 5.30 pm. It is a long day,” agrees Grecco, who has been staying at the Radisson Blu Temple Bay Mamallapuram with his large team.
    Paneer meets beefimage1
    After two months in the country, Grecco says he is used to Indian food. From the roti to the  paneer sabzi, he enjoys all of it. On the contrary, his colleagues are not very wary of the spice. Meanwhile, executive chef Vijay says, “They love steaks and rotis with beef or pork side dishes. And their burgers are three times bigger than our burgers, filled with cheese. A lot of french fries and nendranga chips (banana chips) is what they like. They have a lot of rice unlike Europeans and love lentils. We often make pizzas for them too.”  As for the heat, Grecco is trying hard to survive it with an endless supply of juice and coconut water. Before stopping here, the crew had been to Morocco, China and Senegal in Africa.
    Task force
    For translation, they depend on Salem native Isa. “They have been shooting at locations like Alamparai Fort, Pearl Beach, Oscar beach, all along the East Coast Road. For smaller shoots, they visited Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram and Thiruvengadu. Desafio is the Colombian version of Survivors, the reality show. Initially there were 24 participants and now there are only eight. Challenges included staying with a fisherman’s family and eating their food. Some of them even had to sleep on the beach without food, sell jackfruit in the market, ride an elephant and pick up cowdung,” he says.

    Mrinalini Sundar

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