It is not Computerji any longer, but Computerda if the contestant is Bengali, or Computer Garu if he is from Andhra Pradesh. The quizmaster does not say, “Lock kar diya jaye” but “Freeze kar do.” Instead of “Sure? Confident?” he says, “Kachcha-kachcha ya pukka-pukka?” Amitabh Bachchan is no longer the iconic host of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), Shah Rukh Khan has taken over the hot seat.
While King Khan may lack the gravitas of Amitabh Bachchan, he brings to the show his own brand of youthful charm and self-deprecating humour which Star Plus hopes will attract a new generation of viewers. There are some Bachchanesque moments — Shah Rukh rubs his hands just as the Big B used to — but he also has his own special little touches, such as giving a nervous contestant an impromptu calming neck massage.
Rival channels are guarded about the propects of Shah Rukh pulling off a class act like the Big B. Says Ashish Kaul, senior vice-president, Zee TV, “I think people will watch the show initially out of curiosity. But I don’t think it will be the grand success it was when Amitabh anchored it. Let’s face it, Amitabh is in a different category altogether.”
Equally predictably, Star Plus is very upbeat. Outgoing Star COO Sameer Nair, who watched the programme with Shah Rukh and the entire KBC crew at Mumbai’s Hotel Land’s End, said, “The reaction we’ve got from everywhere has been mind-blowing. SRK rocks! I think he has genuinely taken the torch forward.”
In the final analysis, what matters are the ratings. With Star Plus in a decline, a great deal rides on Shah Rukh Khan in KBC.