"I am already being called Mr Dus Crore" "

KBC, AB, and Star TV, watch out you've got competition. At least that's what the folks at Zee TV are threatening to offer to the three courtesy their game show Sawal Dus Crore which is being touted as the highest prize money game show globally and is slated to launch on 23 October. The person at the forefront will be Anupam Kher who will be the master of ceremonies - along with Manisha Koirala.

This versatile actor from the beautiful city of Shimla came to Mumbai with a dream and determination to become an actor like many others. He succeeded. And how! In his sixteen years of acting, he has done some 290 films. One of Kher's most memorable roles is that of a father yearning for his son's ashes in Saaransh. Another one which sticks in your memory is the role of a doting comic father he played in Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin. Kher has a challenging task ahead of him.

Zee TV is banking on SDCK - and he plays a large part in the show - to pull the network back from the the morass it has got into thanks to its programming myopia and the success of shows such as Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) on Star Plus. indiantelevision.com's Harish Patil caught up with him on 21 October to check Kher out and had a tete a tete with the endearing gentleman. Excerpts: :

Q: How did you get this job?

A : I got a call from Gajendra Singh who is the director of SDCK some 20 days back asking for an appointment. I was surprised when in the meeting he offered the anchor's position, as I was reading about Madhuri hosting the show. I did take my own time before saying yes.

Q: What made you accept the offer?

A man in his mid forties looks for things that he would like to do. I have been in the industry for past sixteen years and have done some 290 odd films. For the past three to four years, I have stopped running around for roles, as the work is getting repetitive. Of every ten films offered to me, six have the same scene and four even have the same dialogues. I have curtailed the number of projects from twenty to four-five films a year I used to do earlier, which has given me the much needed time and space for myself. I have started doing shows for children as well as theatre. So this opportunity came to me as a much awaited break in the real sense.

Q: How do you feel after taking it up?

A: I feel thrilled, just like doing 'Saaransh' many years back. Whenever I want to bring myself back to life as an actor, I take on a different role. Ten years after 'Saaransh' I did theatre again. Then I directed a film. A few years back I did shows for children which gave me immense pleasure and I am now positively looking forward to this new role on a very big platform offered to me by Zee. .

Q: Are you afraid of the Big 'B'?

A: I have great respect for Bachchan, but I am a thorough professional. And to me this is like any other project. When I did my first film with Dilip Kumar, I was thrilled as he was my childhood hero. I grew up watching his movies. When I first met him on the sets, I just kept looking at him. But after the initial excitement was over I started thinking about my professional responsibilities. As an actor I have to perform irrespective of any pressure. So it is more like a challenge to me than a threat.

Q: But Bachchan has his commanding voice and charisma. What will be your USP?

Look, our show is targeted at the common man who has a dream to become very rich. We will give him a chance to fulfil that. My personality and nature will make the contestant feel comfortable. My presence will be more like a family member as I have played roles like 'Chacha', 'Mama', etc. Along with that, the amount of prize money and innovative programming will definitely help the show. Even our questioning pattern is different. The major thrust on current affairs will definitely gives us a winning edge.

The type of sets, type of background music, the presentation of the show - everything plays a vital role

Q: Are you afraid of SDCK failing? KBC is already established and many more such programmes are being canned?

A: I am a great optimist. My life has been a great source of optimism for me. I am never afraid of failures as failures are signs that you are trying. There was a time when five films were doing well; five actors were successful; five programmes were doing well - so there is a room for a person who is providing a quality product. The type of sets, type of background music, the presentation of the show - everything plays a vital role. Looking at the efforts the whole team has put in, I am confident that we are going to succeed.

Q: Phrases like Lock kiyajaya, Confident, and certain mannerisms that Bachchan uses are common with versions of Who wants to be a millionaire worldwide. And even Bachchan rehearsed for almost a month with the producers to get everthing perfect to a T before the show got on air. Have you undergone any specific training?

A: I have had just three days of training. I hardly get any time for that, but even then the end result is extraordinary. Nevertheless, we will be using words like 'Freeze it' for confirming the answer. The other words like 'confident', 'sure' are very common and it will be difficult to get a simple substitute for them. But as the game evolves, we will try coin the words. The language that we are going to use is going to be Hindi only.

Q: How many episodes have you shot and how many have you been contracted for ?

A: As of now we have shot four episodes. I have signed a contract for one year, and will be shooting seven days a month. After one year we will see whether we will continue or not. If I perform I will stay. If I don't I will be kicked out. (smiles).

Q: Are you satisfied with the end product?

A: I have seen the episodes and I am extremely happy about the whole thing. Basically I like people, and I also take real interest in them so while hosting the show I feel the same excitement that the participants feel. I feel that this person should answer correctly; hence I should help him. I share their dreams, which gives me immense amount of pleasure. Already people have started identifying me with the show. They call me Mr Dus Crore.

Q: How are you going to manage your time for all the things you will be doing?

A: I strongly believe that even a real busy person can always find time for everything; only lazy people don't have time. I will be shooting seven days a week for SDCK. As it is I have reduced my work load, so I will able to make adjust to whatever I am doing.




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