Junior KBC has what it takes

If there were any doubts as to how Kaun Banega Crorepati's superstar host Amitabh Bachchan would perform while dealing with precocious kids in the junior variant of the celebrated show, they can be safely be laid to rest.

The first episode, which aired yesterday at 10:00 am, must surely get an A+ rating for a package that was just right. Right from the the song sung by Bachchan in his inimitable baritone that was actually a kind of introductory note as to the purpose of starting Junior KBC to the kids in what was clearly an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Everything, from the sets to the lighting, was faithful to the "adult KBC" in terms of the look as well as the production values (you don't mess with a winning concept). Bachchan wore a lighter shade vis-?-vis his attire but that was about it.

What was different was the feel. Bachchan's way of dealing with kids was a revelation. He didn't try too much of the hee-haw stuff but still managed to keep the kids completely at ease. Totally attentive to what they were saying as well as making sure there was no confusion in their minds as to what it was that he was trying to tell them.

And the kids responded with aplomb. It was quite clear they were having a ball while at the same time making it clear to everyone watching (if it needed telling) that kids were much better at the quizzing business than adults.

The Big B, consummate performer that he is, made those little changes in his body language which made all the difference not only with the tempo that he maintained (speeded up just that wee bit) but also in his gestures. He was far more effusive with more pronounced hand and body movements but at the same time kept himself just that much in check so as not to seem as if he were going over the top.

The questions asked were by and large well thought out taking into consideration the normal subject interest and average intelligence as well as exposure to information of any middle class child.

As for the moolah, the participants, all between 10 and 17, will not get any cash in hand but have their winnings put into a Children's Gift Fund to which they will have access only after they turn 18. For instant gratification, though, a child who gets to the hot seat is given a computer. The rewards Bachchan offers are given in terms of points which have some ratio factored value. On the first day a Class IX schoolboy from Meerut, Abhisht Pandey, walked away with Rs 6,40,000.

Whether Junior KBC will able to lift up senior KBC remains to be seen but as far as Sunday mornings go it looks a winner. The other channels are offering mythological like Vishnupuran on Zee and Shree Ganesha on Sony and cartoon programming, so the channel looks set to to pack in the viewers.

Sameer Nair, Star's executive vice president programming has said he was looking at a two digit TRP rating for the show. That doesn't look like such a tall order after all. Especially considering the ease with which the Big B has taken to the new format.

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