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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Friday, December 01, 2006
It's official. The Big B who not only hosted Star's flagship game- show Kaun Banega Crorepati but also spearheaded the Channel's movement towards TRP -topping maneuvers that have stood the Channel in good stead for over five years, is no longer going to be seen in the host's seat.
Shah Rukh Khan gets onto the premium seat vacated by the Big B.
Samir Nair attributes this startling change of guard to the original host's busy schedules. "We pursued Mr Bachchan for months. But he didn't seem to be very enthusiastic. In the meantime we acquired KBC rights in the season-format for years whereby we had to have the show on air for 52 episodes every year, or our rights lapsed . We just had to take a call. In the light of Mr Bachchan's response we had no choice but to think of someone else who was capable of taking on the mantle."
Tell him it's hard to take on the Big B's mantle, and SRK laughs, "I think Shah Rukh will do a fantastic job. He'll bring his own unique charm to the show. Like Mr Bachchan, Shah Rukh is smart and bright. We all remember the celebrity episode on KBC which he did. It was one of our best episodes. He brought his own encyclopedia, did his research and almost won the crore. He'll bring a new spin to the show."
Shah Rukh is apparently very kicked by the game show. Says Samir, "We were in talks from early November. In 2003 when KBC broke and there was talk that Mr Bachchan might not do it, we had approached Shah Rukh. But nothing came of it. This time when we spoke to him in October he gave us dates immediately in January. It was our good fortune, good planning. We start telecast in mid-Jan, four times a week."
There seems to be a hurry to go on air. "It's very simple. We do it before or after the World Cup. We're doing it before. I've a window of opportunity available now, why not? So the question, will anyone be able to live up to Mr Bachchan's reputation on the host's seat? I don't think we need to compare the two. It's like James Bond. You can't compare Sean Connery with Daniel Craig, or the two Dons."
Star hopes to cultivate a new breed of viewership. Says Samir, "We're forever indebted to Mr Bachchan for doing KBC and legitimizing our channel per se. He made it all happen. Now the mantle passes on . And no one better to take it on than Shah Rukh Khan who interestingly enough, comes from television(he did serials on Doordarshan before films) . He has a soft corner for the medium. As satellite television in India moves forward we need someone like Shah Rukh to take that movement forward. I'm very kicked. I've always been a super-fan of Mr Bachchan. We at Star spoke to him about renewing KBC. But after a point we had to respect his wishes. To be honest, Shah Rukh asked me if he doesn't do KBC, then what. I told him, then we would have a problem."
There will be no radical change in the show. "Same lifelines, same 2- crore prize money and the set remains the same," assures Samir.
Finally what sort of fee has exchanged hands? "It's adequate," laughs Samir Nair.
As adequate as it was for Mr Bachchan? "Yes yes, more than adequate," comes the reply.