A not-so-politically correct chat with Salman Khan, Siddhartha and Anita Basu.
How’s it been working with Salman Khan?
Siddhartha Basu: He’s brought in his individuality and a sense of hospitality. He’s a generous host. We’ve adapted the show according to his personality, unpredictability and an explosive sense for entertainment.
Anita Basu: His uniqueness has worked. What you see is not a typical anchor but an on-screen Salman Khan who has been transported to the stage. There’s no construct in the works.
Salman, how is it working with Siddhartha and Anita Basu?
Salman Khan: We first met on the sets of Kaun Banega Crorepati along with Katrina (Kaif) where we had appeared as guests. We chilled out together. Although it’s a remade version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, it’s very different from what Siddharth has done earlier. I just try to be myself. What you see is the real ‘me’. After the first episode, we realised we could connect with the common man too.
What was the criterion for selecting Salman Khan?
SB: Sony was looking for an A-list superstar who could be the face of the channel. Salman was on top of the list. His charisma and personality fit the show and the outcome was a combination of the two.
SK: You have to be politically correct about whatever you say. I can’t be vulgar and demeaning. The first contestants were the ones who set the ball rolling. They came up with stuff we never talk in our real lives. They had no qualms about their husbands who were sitting there. That’s when I asked myself why the hell do we hide how we feel! That’s where the show started showing results. I started talking like them, apart from the abusive language we use among our friends. That’s when the connect began.
SB: That common connect is the bedrock of all people. We try to bring in their thoughts and their concerns on screen. It’s a complex show in terms of lighting and
SK: Why do celebrities have to be so politically correct? I think it’s bullsh**. We aren’t articulate when we talk. We speak words like ‘susu’ and ‘potty’ at home, then what should we be afraid of? We don’t speak to a taxi driver in French or English but in the language that he understands, and give him respect. It’s all about the connect with that person. I don’t believe there’s a common man. There is a special quality in everyone.
AB: Salman doesn’t fall back on duplicity. It’s like, ‘This is who I am and this is what I get.’ The show works because people discovered new things about Salman. They read in bits and pieces about a side of Salman, which is often negative. They realised he was like you and me in thought and deeds.
How difficult or easy was it to mould a Salman Khan into a TV star?
SB: We went with his strengths and something fantastic came out of it. The Americans came to see bits of it and loved the energy, the variety, banter and repartee. A lot of conventional stars lack a sense of humour, emotional connect, song and dance, which Salman has brought to the show. We did a fortnight’s work at Mehboob Studios where a lot of people like Subhash Ghai, David Dhawan and Katrina came and enjoyed it. That was part of the preparation.
SK: That wasn’t meant for telecast, as it would have lead to a lot of names falling into trouble.
Why are we redoing international shows?
SB: We have worked on a format that works, but you make it your own whether it’s indigenous or
international. Why are you wearing jeans made by some American miner 200 years ago? Because it’s about the make. It works as it’s tried and tested in different countries and cultures.
AB: When people see something they think it’s a copy of it. But it’s not.
SK: I see it in a different way. This format has worked nowhere in the world except in India. Even the
originators have liked what we are doing.
Are we not capable of creating indigenous content?
SK: No. I think we’re not.
SB: Of course, we are. There are so many things, which are locally made. In terms of format, there is a small percentage of programmes that are more visible like KBC. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa is indigenous.
Salman, do you have a
SB: (interrupts): He just thinks it’s a silly question.
SK: (changes track): ‘Phool Khile Hai Gulshan Gulshan’ has been copied from us.
Is it time we export rather than import shows?
SB: It is the same track; I just answered what you asked.
SK: Our culture is very different from theirs. So it won’t help. It also depends on how many people have watched our formats.
Are these shows popular because they use celebrity anchors?
SB: That’s what the media thinks. Last year, the highest rating was for Aap Ki Kachehri.
SK: We got the highest TRP ratings when there were Sara and Laali. Sach Ka Saamna doesn’t have a major celebrity.
Moment of Truth is bolder?
SK: There you make and break lives. Here, the ‘muddas’ are different. It’s not like going to a priest for confession. It takes a lot of courage to confess in front of your family and the whole world. They are the same questions your wife or mother would ask. But here we are asking questions. The press writes what they want to. People come to speak what they want. It’s not about a yes or no, it’s about why.
SB: The Indian version is also much more compassionate. They tell their side of the story. It’s not just questions and revelations.
Is it true that Sach Ka Saamna is rigged when it comes to celebrities?
SB: There is no scope for rigging. The answers are polygraphed, certified and examined thoroughly. It’s a closely audited process, which is transparent and confidential.
SK: There are people who have won lakhs.
Any other reality shows in the pipeline?
SB: Many.. Watch this space for more.
Are you getting into
SB: Not interested. Salman is getting into IPL.
SK: What’s broadcasting?
SB: It means launching channels.
SK: Great question. Of course, he should get into that. You can write ‘Yes’ for that.
AB: With Salman obviously! (laughs)
SB: Our associates Big were planning to launch 23 channels at one point. If that happens, we’ll surely work on that.
Is there a season 3 of Dus Ka Dum?
SB: Yes definitely. This is for Sony and Salman to decide.