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Rediff.com  » Movies » Siddharth Basu talks about KBC

Siddharth Basu talks about KBC

Last updated on: December 13, 2011 14:11 IST

'Rs 18 crores given as prize money in KBC 5'

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A Ganesh Nadar in Mumbai

About a month after Kaun Banega Crorepati, Season 5, ended, the Rs 5 crore question really is this: What made the show such a big hit among audiences?

Season 5 saw it all -- a Rs 5 crore jackpot winner; a couple of crorepatis, host Amitabh Bachchan's magical presence, and some celebrity specials.

Siddharth Basu heads the company Big Synergy, which produces Kaun Banega Crorepati. The Quizmaster spoke to Rediff.com's A Ganesh Nadar in this e-mail interview:

As KBC is based on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, what sort of creative space do you have to make your own changes?

We don't tinker with the fundamentals of the format, which are tried, tested and proven across countries, languages and cultures.

But beyond the sets and basic format, we've been trusted to make it our own, and in India, we've perhaps gone further down that road than any other version elsewhere in the world.

Please click NEXT to read Mr Basu's interview...


Image: Siddharth Basu


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'We are the only country with a film megastar as a host'

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How many changes did you make to Indianise the show?

I wouldn't quantify, as its been an ongoing process to ensure an Indian connect since year dot, an outcome of ideation and consultation between Big Synergy as a production house, and the broadcaster, in this case Sony for the last two series.

KBC is now thoroughly Indian both in its DNA as well in every aspect of its content, look, sound and feel.

The focus on the person in the hot seat as the star of the show, from selection to introduction to video vignettes, to the unfolding of the person's dreams and disappointments through the game, is very desi.

As is the content.

Audio clues are unique to India.

The show music has been Indianised, and the lighting is the most elaborate in the world. Similarly, changes in decor, and special performances are uniquely Indian.

We are the only country with a film megastar as a host who has a rich repertoire of recitations, dialogues, songs and anecdotes to share, which are all, again, characteristic of the Indian version. I could go on.

We are fortunate that the licensors, 2 way Traffic have been culturally sensitive, and most supportive and appreciative of our initiatives to make KBC a fully desi show.

Who prepares the questions?

Big Synergy has a seasoned research team who make the questions, who need to combine creativity with extreme care in detailing and processing.

Please click NEXT to read Mr Basu's interview...


Image: On the sets of Kaun Banega Crorepati 5

Tags: KBC , Mr Basu , DNA , Sony

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'Amitabh Bachchan is a host par excellence'

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The participants are from different regions, age group, educational backgrounds -- how do you decide who gets which questions?

That's the biggest challenge in terms of quizzing.

Each stack has to be sporting test for each contestant from vastly varying backgrounds and exposure, and yet has to retain interest for a janata viewership.

This is done by the quiz producer, and is is really a function of experience in setting quizzes at different levels, for a mass audience.

How important is the quiz master?

The quiz master on this show is also the master of ceremonies, the host, the entertainer, the story teller, the playmaker, informer and umpire.

His is the pivotal role.

Which is what makes Amitabh Bachchan a host par excellence, one of the best there is worldwide.

His gravitas, charisma and charm, sense of drama, eloquence and bilingual excellence, his warmth and manner, make him a brilliant fit on the show.

You are the foremost quiz master in India -- why did we not see you in front of the camera?

I am happier behind the scenes as director, producer, as also to function as coach and mentor to extraordinary talents who have attributes much greater than my own to host this kind of show.

Please click NEXT to read Mr Basu's interview...


Image: Amitabh Bachchan

Tags: Mr Basu , India

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'Amitabh has signed for another season'

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How much money was dispersed as prize money this year?

Approximately Rs 18 crores in the 5th season, with an average of around Rs 32 lakhs per episode and about Rs 18 lakhs per contestant.

Then there's the Ghar Baithhe prize money of about Rs 1 crore.

As far as I know no other show has given out as much in the history of Indian television.

All credit for this extraordinary generosity must go to Sony.

Every year we see some changes on KBC -- are these your innovations or are they from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Many of the innovations are homegrown.

Will Amitabh Bachchan do KBC in 2012?

Yes, he has signed for another season with Sony.

Please click NEXT to read Mr Basu's interview...


Image: Amitabh Bachchan with a contestant on KBC 5


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'Nobody has ever got on to the hot seat twice'

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What changes are we going to see?

There is never change for the sake of change. There will be a thorough review before the next season, at which point we will see what needs to be done.

Most people do not know how the participants are chosen. Could you please enlighten us?

It is all down in the published rules, also available online.

The only gateway is through SMS/call in response to the on air contest questions. It broadly happens through three successive levels of call ins, call outs and auditions.

Apart from a basic knowledge quotient, there are weightages for criteria such as region, gender, age, articulation, personality, economic background, so that you get an inclusive, nationally representative mix.

We go strictly by the book, everything's on record, and it's a transparent, carefully audited process.

Please click NEXT to read Mr Basu's interview...


Image: On the sets of Kaun Banega Crorepati 5

Tags: Mr Basu , SMS

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'Fastest Finger First candidates, who don't get to the hot seat, are free to try again'

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Some people have got onto the show two times. How is this possible?

Nobody has ever got on to the hot seat twice, unless it's a celebrity playing for charity.

As elsewhere in the world, it is only someone who gets to play on the hot seat for a particular language in a particular country who becomes ineligible to take part in it again.

Fastest Finger First candidates, who don't get to the hot seat, are free to try further.

Many keep trying, year after year, and if their number gets selected in the randomisation process and they make it through further steps of selection, they can get back on the show.

But once they get to the hot seat, it's the first and last time they'll ever participate.

How come when you Phone a Friend they always pick up the phone -- it's never busy, never unanswered, the network is not busy -- do you alert them of the call?

It is standard procedure to alert all Phone a Friend nominees of all candidates in a given round before each recording for the possibility of a call within a given window of time.

Please click NEXT to read Mr Basu's interview...


Image: On the sets of Kaun Banega Crorepati 5

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'The quiz master on this show is the master of all the ceremonies'

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How do you choose the experts?

The editorial teams at Big Synergy and Sony puts together a list of names of people, mostly from current affairs or media fields, and then invites them according to inclination and availability.

Any plans to allow NRIs to participate?

Essentially, it is for Indians residing in India, but there is room for specials, and indeed there has been one such on an earlier series of KBC. A few such episodes are likely in the forthcoming versions of the show in southern languages.


Image: A scene from Kaun Banega Crorepati 5


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