Television

Shah Rukh in KBC: Wit and wisdom

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NEW DELHI: "Main is desh ka laal hun is liye is baar KBC ka background laal hai, (I am a son of this soil (laal), that is why the background of KBC is in red)," said Shah Rukh Khan in his signature wit. That is likely to be the most significant change in the third avatar of India's most successful game show, Sameer Nair, Star Plus CEO told a packed press conference here.

Witty, jovial, charming and very GenNext. All attributes that had been at the core of the choice for a successor to Big B as the host of the show that had become a national addiction when it first hit the small screen in 2000. And which Shah Rukh exuded in overdoses. However, indicating the change in tenor that is likely to take place with his taking over, Khan said: "I shall be a dost (friend), rather than a host. I am friendly and I like to be friends, so that is what I shall try to do."

And while Shah Rukh kept the media enthralled, Star Entertainment India CEO Sameer Nair, answering a tricky financial question on the cricket World Cup 2007 stealing the major advertisers away from KBC, said: "I have spoken to the major advertisers and our old clients and the response has been tremendous. It is the World Cup that has a problem, not Star."

It was an obvious thing to say on the face of today's reports in some papers that KBC III would face a revenue problem because most top agencies and advertisers have put in all the big bucks into World Cup coverage, but Nair was not entirely convincing.

Puns and ripostes apart, Shah Rukh painstakingly dispelled the inevitable and repeated comparisons drawn between him and Amitabh Bacchan. "His boots are too big for me to fit in," he said.Siddharth Basu of Synergy Communications, producer of KBC had said, "Television today has a much younger audience and a hugely larger veiwership and this called for a rebirth of the show. So when Amitabh Bacchan decided not to be the host, the natural choice was Shah Rukh Khan, who is the best person for the generation ahead."

Interestingly, Basu revealed that Shah Rukh's name had been discussed long ago, as a "what if KBC needs a change of host".

Responding to the incessant comparisons with Big B, Shah Rukh said first, that he was not 'replacing' anyone. "The word replacement would come had Amitji still wanted to do the show and yet, I would be called in. That is not the case here, because he had himself decided not to host the show."

Secondly, he said, "It is a humbling thought that I am participating in a piece of history in the world of entertainment. So, I pray and hope that I am able to just keep up the great standards that Amitji had taken the show to."

Interestingly, responding to a question of the 'shift' from the 'big screen' to the small one, Shah Rukh said that it is a mistake to talk of television as the small screen only because of its size. "It is actually much bigger than cinema, with its over all reach and the size of the industry in terms if money is also much larger. The small screen is so big that we are now scared of it," he added for good measure.

Shah Rukh added that he was not, in fact, 'shifting' to TV. "In television, I have just one commitment and that is with KBC, and otherwise I shall be doing the three or four films that I do every year."

Asked about his personal incentive behind deciding to host KBC, Shah Rukh said that money and other things apart, "It is the great chance to be with the people that has been the greatest lure for me."

"I am paid for by the people of this country, but due the nature of my job, I seldom get to meet them one to one. KBC will give me that chance for the next 52 episodes." Shah Rukh, referring to his old and keen interest in quizzes and knowledge-based programmes said that for the next one month or so, he would devote as much time as possible to studies, so that he handles the show better.

The other question that was bound to be repeated was what would be new to the third avatar of KBC.

Nair said that much has changed in technology, including telephony, SMS and other aspects, so there will be many technological innovations, "but in the end it will be the content, the creativity that will matter".

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