She’s one of the well-known female VJs and one of the finest show hosts too. Recently, she turned into producer with TLC’s travel show, Mini Me. By now, you know who we are talking about — Mini Mathur. She became a youth sensation as an MTV VJ and received much appreciation as the warm host of Indian Idol for many seasons. Married to filmmaker Kabir Khan, Mini also participated in the second season of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and was appreciated for hosting Dilli Dil Se, a 24-episode show sponsored by the Delhi government which had the biggest artists, industrialists and politicians revealing a rare side of themselves in candid interviews with her.
Now, Mini and Cyrus Sahukar have united to host one of the biggest school quiz shows titled Discovery School Super League (DSSL), powered by Byju’s — The Learning App. The on-ground leg of DSSL has reached out to an unprecedented 12,500 plus schools touching over 42 lakh students in the age group of 8 to 14 year olds across the nation.
The on-air six-episode phase of DSSL premieres April 28 on Discovery Channel, Discovery HD World, Discovery Science, and Discovery Kids. The quiz will feature teams from 29 states and 1 Union Territory (Delhi).
Here’s chatting up Mini to understand more about the show.
You have hosted multiple shows, but how challenging is it to host a quiz show for kids? Was there a quiz show that you enjoyed while growing up?
I am a mother of two so handling kids, in general, is something I do easily now. It is a lot of fun hosting a show with kids as the content is so unpredictable and you’ve got to balance it very finely. Only somebody with a lot of experience can straddle both worlds while playing the game with a certain amount of seriousness and at the same time create an atmosphere which is fun to watch and amazing to the viewers as well.
I love quizzing. As a student, I used to participate in many and as a viewer, I loved watching quiz shows. I used to watch Quiz Contest every Sunday while having breakfast on the table. I would always pretend that I was part of the team and would see how I could go by answering the questions. I also love KBC, well who doesn’t!
How was your experience of selecting students/ schools from across the country?
The quiz has reached out to 12,500 schools and more than 42 lakh kids along with many more wild card entries. Discovery School Super League is pan-India, hence it is not limited to urban kids. The kids went through qualifying tests and quarter-finals, and the semi-finals and finals are what we shot on television.
The experience was amazing because some of the kids came to Mumbai for the first time. We had kids from 8 to 14 years. It was a unique experience for them as well because they not only stepped out of their cities but came to Mumbai and shot for the first time. Hence, we had to handle them accordingly. They belong to different states so they also have different personalities and cultural backgrounds which made it a great experience interacting with them. I’ve always loved meeting people from different corners of the world. My favourite part of hosting Indian Idol was going to small towns and interacting with the contestants. It teaches you a lot.
Do you think that quizzes and activities like these help children in their overall learning?
I think quizzes are very important for kids. The atmosphere at our home is such that we keep our children on their toes and are very particular that they learn and read. I always make sure that their general knowledge is up-to-date. My kids read newspapers and are well-informed. Of course, with Byju’s and me collaborating, I now encourage them to use the app and keep quizzing and learning more as knowledge and entertainment is the best combination. I want my kids to be aware of what’s happening around the world and not just about the city and state they live in. They must be informed of the larger picture and that is where quizzing helps.
You have taken mommy travelling to a whole new level with Mini Me where you were seen trotting across Europe with your daughter. Tell us how travelling has changed your perception.
I was raised in Africa and before I was 12, I’d been to almost 15 countries with my father, who was posted internationally. I was very sure that when I would have children, they would learn through travelling because that’s what I did and till date, my knowledge, sense of the world and sense of humour arise from my experiences that I gathered from travelling. The idea of Mini Me also came from travelling. I decided to travel the world with my daughter so that we get to know each other better. I believe that you are at your best self when you are travelling. It was amazing how much my daughter and I learnt about each other and how our perceptions of each other changed.
How does it feel to work with Cyrus Sahukar again?
Cyrus and I have been friends since our first day of MTV. We had got onto the same flight and went to the MTV office with our suitcases in the same cab. We have had this incredible bond for a long time now and have always stayed really close friends. We happened to just wrap up a series called Mind the Malhotra’s for Applause which will find its way on OTT platform really soon. It’s a comedy fiction series based on an Israeli show called La Familia.
After MTV, we hosted Wife Bina Life and now Discovery School Super League. What’s special about our friendship is that we understand each other well. We’re both very strong anchors, very different but we have each other’s back. We both know that as hosts we must work together for the show and not individually. It’s not about getting attention to yourself but deflecting it to make the show better.
While choosing a learning app for your kids, what are the things that you keep in mind?
With technology taking such a main stage in education, as a parent one has to be very careful of what you are exposing your children to. Now that I’ve interacted very closely with Byju’s, I’m so impressed. We didn’t have anything like this when we were young. Byju’s offers such great content that plays to one’s strength and weaknesses. I’m happy that my kids are on a tab because I know that they are learning through it. I always keep a check on the things they are browsing that aren’t factually correct. With Byju’s I know what they are learning and from where.