Amitabh Bachchan turned a year older on Monday. Even as he is closing in on his 80s, the Bollywood megastar does not seem to be slowing down when it comes to work. He has as many as six confirmed movies lined up for release as he continues to feature on TV as the host and face of quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati.
Back in 2000, Big B began his association with TV with KBC. The format was a huge success abroad and Big B could have been the only personality who could attach a certain star factor that could pull viewers in. Till then, Indian TV audience were not accustomed to seeing a Bollywood star on the small screen but Big B’s decision to associate his name and brand with TV changed things forever, even for Bollywood actors who thought of TV as a lesser medium for their icon status.
At the time when KBC started airing, cable TV was also booming. The way in which he conducted the programme was flawless. His baritone found a complementary medium and the show became an instant hit. He started reaching every household and families together would tune in for the thrill and tension of prize money stakes, coupled with Big B’s very informal yet delightful way of hosting. This also gave him the opportunity to change his path and from then on he started choosing roles which suit his age. It is interesting to note here that when most actors try to reinvent themselves in the movies by switching genre and doing supporting roles at the age when Big B started as host on KBC (in his late 50s), it was a new medium that not only let him be in charge of things but also reinvent and position himself better for the time that was to come.
Over the years, Big B started getting more and more candid with the participants and his popularity increased. KBC heralded a new generation for non-fiction TV formats to be adapted in India and the likes of it followed suit with major Bollywood stars wanting to bite into this new audience space.
However, Big B’s association with KBC was more of a coincidence than an intentional decision. His family and colleagues initially advised him to not take up the offer and to avoid TV. However, Big B felt that it was something new and so he wanted to give it a try. Now, he is synonymous with the show and it wouldn’t be far fetched to say that without Big B, there is no KBC.
Seeing how effortless Big B is as host of the show, puts the contestants at ease in pressure situations, converses with the studio audience with his usual flair and candidly shares anecdotes from his life, we asked KBC 13 director Arun Seshkumar about the actor’s prep for an episode. He shared that Big B’s lines are his own and only some portions of an episode are scripted.
“He jumps into the contestant’s life and has a chat with them. There is a level of nervousness in them, firstly, about reaching the hot seat and then sitting just a few feet away from a big star like Mr Bachchan. The beauty is how he makes them comfortable on set and conducts the whole program. Each year he is coming up with something new all by himself. A new jest of how to do it better. Only 5 or 7 per cent of telecast is scripted. Anecdotes from his life are all his own. We as crew are also surprised sometimes. He is a ‘bhandar’ of knowledge, an encyclopedia,” Arun said.