Amitabh Bachchan is the gold standard for hosts on TV as he returns as the quizmaster of popular intelligence-based show Kaun Banega Crorepati. His association with it has lasted over two decades and counting. Meanwhile, director Arun Seshkumar has been at the helm of affairs since season 6 (2012-13) and is in complete awe of Big B’s hosting ability and work ethics. 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 Arun about the actor’s prep for an episode.
He says, “Mr Bachchan walks in at 8am, gets ready and enters a room that is prepared for him. He rehearses his lines there. They are the opening and closing links of the show. Rest all is very impromptu and he speaks his own lines. It is not scripted or anything of that sort. He goes through the profiles of the various contestants. These are around 10 because we don’t know who is going to make it to the hot seat. He tries to understand their profiles, stories and background. This takes about 45 minutes. We create a sheet with bullet points about who the contestant is and what possible touch points we can discover about them. That is all he goes through about a contestant. Rest all is conversational. He spends time with them and is very involved in the process. 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 all by himself. A new jest of how to do it better. Only 5 or 7 per cent of telecast is scripted. When Mr Bachchan walks in, he talks about the places where the show is going. Then he speaks a little bit about the contestant but that is just to give him a weightage of speech. Then the closing link where the journey of the contestant is summed up. Apart from that the break links and sponsor commitments in terms of giving information to the viewers. Anecdotes from his life are all his own. We as crew are also surprised sometimes. He is a ‘bhandar’ of knowledge, an encyclopedia."
About briefing the contestants in Kaun Banega Crorepati, Arun shares, “Everything is very candid. We don’t tell them what to ask or tell Mr Bachchan. Whatever they are talking about is absolutely their choice and we have kept all of the realness intact. This season, we have also kept certain portions from the turn around time also where he is talking to the studio audience so that people know what the life of KBC in between takes is like."