'KBC' re-run to test waters for Bachchan's return to Star

MUMBAI: Amitabh Bachchan is returning to Star Plus.

The channel, which plans to bring the superstar back to the small screen early in 2002, is testing the waters with a re-run of the best of Kaun Banega Crorepati episodes beginning 6 September. If the repeat series, made innovative with interactivity, clicks it could well herald a second season of KBC on the channel. Even if it doesn't, Star already has a new game show, with Bachchan as host, readied for a 2003 launch.

Industry sources say UK-based Chatterbox has already developed a novel game show format with Bachchan envisaged as the anchor and hefty prize money involved. However, Star is yet to take a call on whether it should revive KBC in a new format in early 2003 or go for the show that Chatterbox has ready. The response to the KBC re-run should provide the answer to Star's dilemma.

The re-run KBC series, that will air every Friday at 8 pm, is intended to whet viewer apetite and rekindle interest in the show that bid au revoir to viewers in the first week of January 2002. The 14-episode series will showcase notable moments, celebrities and jackpot winning participants and will also turn interactive, giving viewers the chance to win prize money by SMSing answers before Bachchan locks them on the show.

Star has tied up with Escorts-promoted CellNext Solutions, which will provide instant interaction between the game show and its viewers through various mobile operators' networks. The channel has also tied up with all major cellular operators to set up an infrastructure for this interactive format. Star plans to deploy interactive televiewing to its entire bouquet in the coming months via SMS, Star COO Sameer Nair told mediapersons in Delhi on Tuesday. Some of the key offerings from the service include participation on shows/contests, astrology, song requests, bidding and so on.

Nair told mediapersons in Delhi yesterday that the SMS ploy would be employed for the new series as well. "The interactivity through SMS will bring viewers much closer to our network," he has been quoted as saying.

Bachchan is still contracted to Star for 85 more episodes of KBC, so Star has the option of giving him a fresh innings in the show that brought him (and Star Plus) back into the reckoning or going in for a totally new format show.

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