Amitabh Bachchan first arrived on the small screen with Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) in 2000. The impact of the show is now part of television legend: it revived Bachchan's sagging career and established the struggling Star Plus as the No. 1 entertainment channel.
KBC Dwitiya followed in 2005 and though it did well, it was nowhere in the league of the first season. Now, four years later, Bachchan is back on television screens as the host of reality show, Bigg Boss, on Colors.
In the first two instances, he played the sympathetic host of a general knowledge quiz show. In his new avatar, Bachchan will be dealing with a bunch of people locked up in a house for almost 80 days, without any contact with the outside world.
Unlike KBC, which was regarded as a family entertainer, Bigg Boss is a voyeuristic, controversial show, known more for its dysfunctional group of housemates than anything else. In a departure from last year, this season Bachchan will invite viewers to send in their choices for housemates and Colors will attempt to get some of the people chosen by viewers.
Bachchan will also interview the housemates as they get evicted. According to the channel, he will play the role of a 'pop philosopher,' giving housemates the benefit of his wisdom and advice.
Bigg Boss rated reasonably well when it was telecast on Colors last year soon after the channel's launch in July. But it was more successful at being constantly in the eye of a storm. There were complaints from viewers that the show was obscene and vulgar.
A Q and A with the star:
What made you agree to be part of Bigg Boss?
Behind every game show or reality show there is someone who has devised the whole thing.
I found that intriguing. A lot of shows may be regarded as frivolous, but to make something frivolous also takes time. Behind Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), for instance, there was a very qualified psychologist. I believe this is what excited me. The way people behave when they’re locked up in a house for 84 days without any contact with the outside world. Does it give them the opportunity to come out with things they’ve been nurturing inside? Why do they behave the way the do?
Have you seen the show?
I’ve seen snatches. When I heard about the concept of the show, I thought – how do people think of these things? There’s someone behind it, someone has obviously devised the whole thing.
Are you aware that the show got into a lot of controversies last year? Many people felt it was not ‘family viewing.’ Are you comfortable with that?
I’m aware of the controversies and no, it doesn’t upset me.
What did your family have to say about your decision to be part of this show?
Well, all of them gave their inputs. We do discuss things over the dining table. But they’re happy if I’m happy. And I’m happy.
But they weren’t happy when you decided to do KBC, were they?
No, they weren’t. They were skeptical, they thought I would be moving from 70 mm to 15 inches. But then everything worked out well.
KBC was very successful. But today, the television scenario has changed drastically. There is a lot of fragmentation. Programmes don’t get the kind of ratings KBC got. Are you worried that people will say, ‘Oh, he’s fallen from a rating of 16 to 4!’
So long as they’re saying that, it’s okay. It means they’re watching the show.
What has happened to your contract with Star?
The contract has been amicably settled.
How much are you getting paid for Bigg Boss?
You had a certain persona in KBC. What is the persona and style you’ll adopt in Bigg Boss?
You know, in KBC, that little prologue was my idea. It was not part of the international game show. The show was telecast at such a time (9 pm at night) that I thought a little gyaan dhyaan would put people in the right spirit. That time of the day was right for a little discourse. Once people became familiar with the format, they would tune in just to hear that prologue. In the case of Bigg Boss, ever since Rajesh (Kamat, CEO of Colors) said he wanted to take the show to another level, I decided I would look at what goes on inside people’s minds. It’s not going to be intrusive, I’m not going to intellectualise it, but sometimes, the odd thing does come out. Suppose two people have had a fight. And suppose there was a third party who was not a participant, who could impart some wisdom, some philosophy. And this is something that’s relevant not just for TV. Even in our lives, if we could just sit rationally and talk, a solution would present itself. If we can inculcate this in the show… it would be great.
What do you think of the TV scenario today?
Now this will sound as if I’m promoting my film Rann.. but the way TV is in our country today, everyone has an opportunity to express himself. That's fine. But there are so many channels, each one is competing for eyeballs and there is a certain trivialisation of content to gain viewership. It's not wrong as a business proposal. You trivialise content to get your business going. But if you listen to your conscience, your business suffers.
A lot of people would say Bigg Boss is trivial too.
Well, they said KBC was encouraging people to gamble. In Bigg Boss, we’re looking at what goes inside the minds of people.