So the Commonwealth Games have finally come to a close. I will certainly miss seeing all the games, from boxing and wrestling (always riveting, particularly when India was winning) to walking and cycling (rarely has Delhi looked as beautiful as it did when we saw the cyclists zipping down smooth, empty roads, whether it was on Rajpath or the CP inner circle). There were so many edge-of-the-seat matches (Saina Nehwal’s badminton final and the India-Pakistan hockey match being the most exciting). But there were some sports that mystified me completely – primarily lawn bowls (as a thrilling spectator sport, it comes close to watching grass grow).
The closing ceremony, though not as grand as the opening event, was quite dazzling (if you zoned out during the speeches and DD commentary, that is). But I was a little disappointed by the singing towards the end (Shaan, Shankar Mahadevan, Usha Uthup, Sukhwinder Singh, Kailash Kher, Ila Arun, Sunidhi Chauhan etc). Individual voices sounded curiously lost in that huge stadium; nor was the sound of the music ‘big’ enough (or at least that’s the way it seemed on TV, maybe viewers in the stadium have a different story to tell). For my money, the only singer who managed to exude some degree of hi-octane energy was Sreeram, the latest Indian Idol winner.
Thankfully, the DD telecast was sans ads, so it was an unbroken viewing experience.
The other big TV event was of course the return of Amitabh Bachchan in Kaun Banega Crorepati (Sony). The opening episode began with a long, glitzy celebration of Amitabh’s film career, and only after we had heard him recite his famous dialogue and dance a bit, did the show start.
I have always been a KBC fan. When the show first came on the air all those years ago, it was wonderfully fresh and Amitabh, with his gravitas and sympathetic manner, made for a superb host. Then came Shah Rukh Khan, who brought his own brand of informality, energy and fun — very distinct from the Big B but as enjoyable.
Now the ball is back in the Big B’s court. Sensibly, Amitabh has stuck to his trademark KBC style: warm, friendly (in a sort of elder statesman way), dignified and encouraging (yes, he still really wants the contestants to win).
There are few new features: new lifelines, a loudly ticking clock in the beginning during the first few questions (which Amitabh calls ‘gharial babu’ but which is mildly irritating because it is too loud and distracting and interferes with the conversation). There’s also an ‘expert’ (Charu Sharma in the first episode) who the contestant can consult if he’s stumped for an answer – which is an interesting new addition.
The show has also introduced the by-now mandatory reality segments, where we see clips of the contestant in their hometowns, along with their parents/spouses/ friends/neighbours etc (with lots of “it-has-been-my-dream-to-make-it-to-KBC”/ “If I had a choice between winning one crore and meeting you, Amitji, I would choose the second option” and the like). But, well, I guess that’s what the power of television and superstardom is all about.
Things are going to get even more exciting now – we’re soon going to see Akshay Kumar in a show on Star Plus (Masterchef), and, if rumours are to be believed, Hrithik Roshan might also appear in a dance show in the future. And apparently, Madhuri Dixit will be a judge in the next season of Jhalak Dikhla Jaa.
Fun times ahead (and they might consider re-naming the TV industry Telewood).