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Quiz shows come with a filmi touch...

Bollywood questions have become a staple on every current TV show, writes Megha Mahindru.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2006 14:09 IST

Sample these: Who played Akshay Kumar’s mother in Dil To Pagal Hai? Where was the song Kuch Kuch Hota Hai picturised? What was the profession of Sonali Bendre in Kal Ho Na Ho?

These posers are not from a discussion between friends. These are questions that feature in quiz shows on air. Gone are the days of quiz contests that tested the range of one’s knowledge in the fields of arts, science, sports and literature. In a Bollywood-driven world of entertainment, game shows have replaced hardcore quiz shows and the format is now designed not to make contestants rack their brains, but to let them have fun.

In this scenario, it is the Bollywood buff who has the edge over the trivia genius, because almost every round in every show is peppered with questions on masala Hindi films.

And even here, there is a certain dilution of quality. Film-based questions in earlier quiz shows went beyond the obvious. These days, scriptwriters seem to be bending over backwards to make them as easy as possible, and hosts often drop large hints for those who cannot cope with the easy questions.

Talking about the Bollywoodisation of quiz shows, Sajid Khan, the quizmaster of Star One’s Super Sale, confesses, “It’s true. Our show is loosely a Bollywood quiz show, though it has more than just that.

The trend came into being because viewers enjoy this and want more of the same. Sadly, television is not content-driven but TRP-driven. So, we have to come down to whatever drives it.”

Manoj Bajpai, host of Kam Ya Zyada on Zee TV, believes, “The Bollywoodisation of shows makes it more interacting.” However, Bajpai says he uses Bollywood more as an entry point than as a be-alland-end-all factor.

“Usually, Hindi cinema questions are used in the beginning to help the participant relax. Gradually, as the participant advances, the questions become tougher and acquire a serious tone,” the actor points out.

He sees nothing wrong with helping the contestants along, quite in line of the Big B’s quiz act in the biggest of such shows — Kaun Banega Crorepati. Incidentally, KBC was one of the first shows to get in celeb contestants, thus making a quiz programme more of an entertainment show than being an intellectual exercise.

The huge increase in television viewership means that these quiz/game shows are watched by millions more than the number that followed, say, Doordarshan’s Quiz Time or the Mathemagic Show. It has, therefore, become necessary to cater to the mass market, not just to the relatively more informed. “Shows today are driven by Bollywood questions as they involve a large number of viewers. One can’t question ordinary viewers on physics all the time,” Bajpai says. “The trend comes about as a realisation that the audience and contestants are not academicians.

If you are terrible at general knowledge, we provide a fun way to make up for it.” Drawing a line between quiz shows then and now, Bajpai says, “It’s important to see that the phenomenon of quiz shows is almost non-existent now. A quiz show is all about knowledge. It’s not about options or lifelines or kam ya zyada. It’s a clear-cut test of what you know.

However, what we have now are game shows. It’s more about entertainment and making money than learning.” Agreeing with Bajpai, Sajid Khan states, “As an entertainer, I don’t think it’s something wrong, because as long as viewers enjoy it, my job is done.”

First Published: Feb 06, 2006 13:25 IST