Razor-sharp, yet absolutely cucumber cool on the surface, his foresight has always been talk of town.. whether it was for his show Quiztime, Mastermind or Kaun Banega Crorepati. Right now, he’s in the city to launch the first of its kind movie-based quiz show.
Let’s begin with the new show launched by your company.
(Smiles) Bollywood ka Boss... (pause) It’s for Filmy.. an original quiz format developed by my company Synergy, seeking to find the ultimate Hindi movie buff in the country. Selection is open to anyone willing to qualify through a selection process, of SMS and written tests. The TV format itself is full-on Bollywood content matched to the drama of open competition. It’s a totally movie-based contest for those who love Hindi movies.
After working with Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan, why did you opt for Boman Irani as a host?
Boman is not only a fantastic entertainer; he’s a big Hindi movie fan and is extraordinarily well-informed. We couldn’t find a better choice.
Why didn’t you go for another channel?
Whichever channel has a heart and imagination large enough to push a big idea, is right for a show. This is a big show, with a half crore booty, hosted by a very busy film actor, which Filmy is backing in a bigway. I appreciate their willingness and hard work.
In retrospect, do you think Amitabh Bachchan was a better quizmaster than Shahrukh Khan?
I’d like to believe that each one of them brought a distinct individuality to the table. Each made for an outstanding host. I will not compare them or their talent as quizmasters.
There were constant comparisons on TRP and revenue wars of sorts being reported about KBC 1 and 2 and KBC3.
Please check the actual figures. The truth is, each time the number of viewers and revenues grew exponentially larger. There may have been reports, but I know the truth better than anyone else. And the truth is that each show was as good as the other.
You’re known to be the father of quiz shows in India...
I don’t know if that’s something that can stand up to a paternity test. I’m just happy to have been involved with the shaping and making of shows that pushed the limits of this genre.
Don’t you agree that you weren’t the actual creator of the concept of Kaun Banega..?
From the time the first series was announced, I and everone associated with KBC have explicitly stated in every forum that it’s the Indian version of a globally successful format of British origin.
Wasn’t it a rip off from the western show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
A rip off is an unauthorised copy. On the other hand, KBC is the licensed Indian version of the Celador format Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which the licensors regard as one of the most successful anywhere, out of more than 106 versions that have been produced worldwide.
Do we really lack in creativity in India?
Not really. Creativity needs to be nurtured. It’s the quickfix and quick buck culture that’s anti-creative. We could dowithmore commitment, patience and resources to develop more novel and varied programmes. Going by the films releasing these days, most of them are copies of foreign projects and now the trend seems to have caught up with TV too. We need to differentiate between world class showswhich bring the best of the world to India in an honest and creativeway, and those that are rip-offs.
Today, almost every channel is running behind the idea of having a reality show .. don’t you think that’s too much of
Whether its reality or talent shows or soaps or whatever, the ones that stand out are those that have that connect with the viewers with that special something to mark them out from the herd.
Though, reality shows are said to be “in” but the saas-bahu sagas are the real TRP kings. Do you think it’s high time we have an all-woman reality show?
Talent shows and contests can act as tent-poles which lift channel shares overall, as the song contests are currently doing on Zee, Star and Sony. There’s enough of all-women unreality shows by way of soaps, and the crying need is for those that are more inclusive.
How about doing a reality show with housewives?
I suspect that even housewives are interested in showsthat don’t only have more of their own kind.
How about locking up real life couples for a week in their house?
It would mainly be for Peeping Toms fascinated with spying on people in unnatural situations. I’d rather fly with those who are free.
Are you planning for KBC4?
It’s planned for some time in 2008.
Who’ll host the show?
Shah Rukh Khan has been signed by Star for at least 2 seasons of KBC,with an option to renew.
In case, you don’t get Shahrukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan, which actor you will go for?
Whoever is best for the show.
Though television is going great.. most of the actors think it's downmarket to make television appearances.
Which actor of any size, substance or intelligence is averse to a TV appearance? Films give them a larger than life image and a certain value, but they know that TV is the most powerful force-multiplier and commercially much bigger and more stable. Ideally, they’d like to keep going on both film and TV.
Like India’s population, channels are also growing like rabbits... what do you think of that?
It’s in the hope of viewers and profits. Supply will need to match the demand. We’ll see a lot of desperate attempts to capture attention, but for the sake of our sanity and balance, I hope quality and the right values prevail.
You started off as a documentary filmmaker. Did commercial filmmaking ever cross your mind?
Sure. My kind of movies are Lagaan, Rang de Basanti, Parineeta, Omkara, The Namesake, Metro and Chak De! India. But now, I just enjoy watching them, not dream of making them.
And lastly,which are the three shows that made a difference till date on television?
Hum Log began the diet of daily soaps that led to Kyunki.. and its clones. The World this Week led to the rash of 24x7 news channels. Sa re ga ma has been the mother of all talent shows. We’re still reeling under the influence of these