SRK to replace Big B as host of KBC

MUMBAI: Talk about making a big play. Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), Star India's talismanic gameshow, will be back early next year with Bollywood's biggest superstar Shah Rukh Khan replacing Hindi cinema icon Amitabh Bachchan as host.

Star is pitching the third season of the hit show as a "Gen Next avatar" to "reach out to an India where two thirds of the population is below 35".

The contract that Star has signed with Shah Rukh is for two seasons with an option to extend it further into a third season. While Star officials have refused to comment on the payout to the "Bollywood Badshah", has it from reliable sources that the two-season deal is worth a whopping $ 7 million (roughly Rs 320 million).

Each season is for 52 episodes, which means that Shah Rukh has committed to shooting 104 episodes of KBC in all. It is worth noting that the second season of KBC had to be aborted after completing only 61 of the contracted 85 episodes due to Bachchan's sudden illness.

Newswire Press Trust of India quoted Star Entertainment India CEO Sameer Nair as saying, "Mr Bachchan expressed his disinclination to do the show and we respect his decision. We are indebted to him for what he brought to the show but now it is time to move on and who better to hand over the baton to than Shah Rukh Khan.

"We have been in talks with Shah Rukh Khan for over a month now and he expressed his willingness to do the show. Shooting will begin by December-end and we expect this season to be on air by January-end."

The show has been slotted in the 9 pm prime time band and will air Monday through to Thursday every week, the same as was the case when KBC first came on air. This effectively means that each season will have a 13-week run.

Nair has been quoted in an official release as saying, "We are extremely delighted to announce the Next Gen avatar of KBC and are even more pleased to present Shah Rukh Khan, as its host. We promise to engage and deliver to our audiences a whole new entertainment experience."

Shah Rukh Khan added, "I was pleasantly surprised when Star offered me the show. I was a participant in season one of KBC...and little did I know one day I would be hosting it. It is a huge act to follow, that of Mr Bachchan...but it also excites me that I am getting an opportunity to reach and interact with my audience through a medium where I began my career as an actor years ago. So here's looking forward to coming round a full circle...guess unlock kiya jaaye."

Star India has signed a five-year contract with Celador for KBC, the Indian adaptation of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The deal incorporates both the format and programme license, and is the longest continuing license that has ever been granted for the globally successful show.

KBC will be produced by Siddhartha Basu's Synergy Communications. Says Basu, "KBC with SRK will bring a whole new set of audience to Star Plus. Although I have been associated with KBC ever since it began, this is literally a new beginning for me. SRK's wit, energy, excitement and enthusiasm will rub-off onto all of us and together as a team we hope to create some magical moments on television."

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