New KBC will have a younger, zingy feel: Siddharth Basu | india | Hindustan Times
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New KBC will have a younger, zingy feel: Siddharth Basu

india Updated: Jan 12, 2007 20:27 IST
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Quizmaster Siddharth Basu, the man behind the super hit game show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), says Shah Rukh Khan was the obvious alternative to Amitabh Bachchan with his charm and cheek.

"Shah Rukh was always the most obvious alternative. And I've said that for a long time. I think it's great choice, though only as an alternative to Amitabh Bachchan," Basu told IANS in an interview.

Basu describes him as young people's person.

"Shah Rukh's charming and cheeky. He has none of the anxieties that most actors have about anchoring. The tone, tenor and texture will change with Shah Rukh. At the press conference with Shah Rukh the girls were going crazy. It will have a younger zingy feel. And the viewership today is young - between 18 to 34 years."

Basu, who is also responsible for reality shows like Jhalak Dikhla Jaa and Bigg Boss, feels such shows will lose colour very soon.

"The whole concept behind 'Bigg Boss' is artificial. Contestants can't make phone calls, can't take a siesta, can't read or watch TV. So all sorts of bizarre things start happening. In Holland they start having sex. Here we can't have that.

"I strictly feel the unscripted format has a limited shelf life. Reality TV won't overtake anything. The glamour of the 'tit' and the 'grit' will run out. There'll always be room for soaps."

Excerpts:

Q: How did you enjoy producing your first dance show Jhalak Dikhla Jaa ?
It was great fun. I enjoyed doing it even at such a short notice. Sony is keen on a second innings. As for the ratings, Sony had their own reasons for putting it on at 10 p.m. Personally, I felt that it should've been put in an earlier slot. That made a key difference. I'd have been pleased with higher ratings.

I must say it was a far bigger talking point among urban viewers than was reflected in the TRPs. The highest viewership for "Jhalak..." was Category A who aren't necessary metered for TRPs but have great buying power.

Q: Bigg Boss?
Again numbers don't reflect its viewership. It's a demographic non-encompassing rating.

Q: People expected bigger celebrities on Bigg Boss.
Frankly, I had reservations about the format per se. T.S. Eliot was right when he said we've too much reality in India. We tend to look away. In the West looking into someone's window is a voyeuristic delight. However, the success of Bigg Boss doesn't depend on celebrities in any part of the world. Even out in West they took on junior artists.

Moreover, the whole concept behind Bigg Boss is artificial. Contestants can't make phone calls, can't take a siesta, can't read or watch TV. So all sorts of bizarre things start happening. In Holland they start having sex. Here we can't have that.

Q: What about KBC and its dramatic change?
Shah Rukh Khan was always the most obvious alternative. And I've said that for a long time. I think it's great choice, though only as an alternative to Amitabh Bachchan.

Amitabh has been ambivalent about doing KBC again. One part of him says he's done enough of KBC. But I kept urging him to do it. He achieved a certain effect that the show required.

By the second innings he was really enjoying himself. I feel he was much more relaxed with the crew, etc the second time. But after his sudden illness whenever I met him I kept asking him to do it again.

I've heard he had other commitments. I'm also told that as far back as July he had written to STAR and told them he doesn't want to do it. Once they got a fix on Shah Rukh, STAR went ahead with it.

Q: So why Shah Rukh?
Because he is smart and young people's person. He is charming and cheeky. He's very willing to prepare hard. Shah Rukh has none of the anxieties that most actors have about anchoring. The tone, tenor and texture will change with Shah Rukh.

Change at the anchoring level is inevitable on KBC. It's happened in 106 countries. But I still get goose pimples when I see what Amitabh did on KBC. His not returning to KBC is just one of those things. It wasn't meant to be.

Q: But Indian viewers are a sentimental lot. To them KBC is synonymous to Amitabh.
I suppose so. Even in his second innings the ratings were higher than the first innings. Look, that initial euphoria of the first innings, when streets were empty, was missing in the second innings. But in terms of viewership the second innings was better.

However, it took a knock when Amitabh fell ill and the show had to be terminated. I think Amitabh was awesome. If he wanted to continue, there was no question of looking elsewhere. Having said that, I must say the format has legs. The essential drama of the drama plus Shah Rukh will carry it forward.

At the press conference with Shah Rukh the girls were going crazy. It will have a younger zingy feel. And the viewership today is young - between 18 to 34 years.

Q: Is Reality TV the new high for home viewers?
For how long do you think truth will remain stranger than fiction? I strictly feel the unscripted format has a limited shelf life. The world over the deathly sameness of "Santa Barbara" and "The Bold & The Beautiful" was countered by reality TV. But that's just one of the currents!

Reality TV won't overtake anything. The glamour of the 'tit' and the 'grit' will run out. There'll always be room for soaps.

Q: What next?
I'm sure you're aware our company Synergy has gone into collaboration with Adlabs for KBC. They own 51 percent of our company now. Let's see what happens. I've my fingers crossed.

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