Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Amitabh's KBC

There's something about Amitabh Bachchan when he hosts Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC). He may be the biggest movie star in Indian cinema, but he appears our next door neighbour when he is on the hot seat. The kind whose house you can go to every day in the night and casually ask "bhai, kya haal chaal hain aake?"Or if I were to put it less diplomatically, go with some beer, straight to his kitchen, fetch two glasses, open the bottle, pour beer, offer him one and say "kya boss kya ho raha hain, how are you man?" Or the old uncle in the building who kids address as 'Hello Amitabh uncle, how are you?' as he gets off the building lift with a jhola tagged over his shoulders. Ofcourse you can't walk into Jalsa to ask these type of question, let alone with a bottle of beer in your hands, his security guards will throw you out. Nor can you break the cordon around the place where he's shooting for a film, and rush to him to seek an autograph. But when he is on the hot seat, you can get away by asking the most idiotic questions and Bachchan will answer with a smile.

That's what makes KBC so special. It's not just any quiz show. As soon as you win the first hurdle 'Fastest Finger First (FFF)', he welcomes you with open arms. Winners of this stage cannot believe whether they just won FFF or whether they're going to meet, talk and sit with Amitabh Bachchan. I am sure very few must actually be thinking of that Rs one crore; such is the overwhelming feeling you can get faced with the prospect of being welcomed by Bachchan. He puts you at ease with his humour and his jokes. Husbands on hot seats are teased in front of their wives that cheer from the audience; he subtly fingers the wives on hot seats as he makes an attempt to remind them of something funny. The audience roars with laughter, amused.

But not all contestants have a happy tale to share. Some have a grim past like KBC's first lady crorepati- a super confident and intelligent lady- who claimed to have never ever seen Rs3.20 lakh (the second hurdle she cleared) in her life. Your heart goes out for such people and it is a reminder how important- and elusive- money is for a majority of Indians. I couldn't miss the irony as Amitabh (one of India's richest celebrities and for whom Rs3.20 lakh must be a pittance) heard this just as he was signing this cheque. To have won KBC with such elan as this lady did, I wonder for whom it was a bigger honour; for her or for Amitabh to have been writing a cheque of Rs3.20 lakh (he would write many more cheques eventually, till Rs One crore) for this lady. To still understand a poor man's thrill of winning amounts that Bachchan may not even think twice before spending, is a feeling we get only from Amitabh.

That doesn't mean he is unprofessional. Sometimes he tries to warn you by asking you repeatedly if you are going on the wrong path. But you stick to your path and you are allowed to make your own mistakes. Nobody, not even Bachchan, can help you. But that's what the game is all about. Still, for many, it is the thrill of spending 30 minutes of your life with Bachchan. I could not feel that connection with SRK; he always came across as superstar when he hosted KBC. But Amitabh is one of us, our neighbour, friend, uncle who takes you on the Rs1 crore journey, holding your hands.

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