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When Amitabh had no work, no money

By Subhash K Jha
September 07, 2018 11:09 IST
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'...and a bagful of ill-mannered, threatening, creditors.'

Since its inception, one of the highlights of Kaun Banega Crorepati has been its host Amitabh Bachchan.

The superstar's choice of words and his emotional connect with the contestants has made the 18-year-old game show a family favourite.

As Season 10 enjoys prime time on television, Amitabh tells Subhash K Jha, "This effort, along with some financial guidance, helped me pay off each and every person."


It's been 18 years of KBC. I still remember the moment when you decided to host it in spite of advice not to. How do you look back at the experience?

It's the tenth season, nine of which have been conducted by me; one by Shah Rukh (Khan).

Hesitancy and apprehension were prime when it was suggested to me, and the fear of what others felt would be diminishing my 70 mm film projection to a 25-inch TV screen.

But circumstances were not very conducive.

I had already begun reading my 'The End' credits.

What do you mean?

I had no work, no money and a bagful of ill-mannered, threatening, creditors.

Apart from the creativity of venturing into TV, something that I had always kept in the back of my mind years earlier, it was giving me an opportunity to -- not entirely, but in a small way -- indicate to those I owed money that I was working at it.

This effort, along with some financial guidance, helped me pay off each and every person.

But the experience of KBC was much larger, in more ways than one.

WATCH: Want to see Amitabh angry? Video: Kind courtesy Kaun Banega Crorepati. Production: Hitesh Harisinghani/

Tell us about your most memorable interactions on KBC.

Each and every interaction on KBC has been not just memorable, but a learning of a lifetime.

Who we are as a country, as Indians, what is it that human bearings contend with, what motivates them, what extenuating circumstances humanity battles with each day...

The varied emotions that each of us carry.

What life does the rest of the country live, as opposed to us, who live cocooned lives.

There have been alarming and disturbing stories of social and moral struggles, of the strengths and weaknesses we tend to overlook in others.

What an incredible India we have that resides within each of our 1.2 billion souls!

WATCH: Aww! Amitabh is embarrassed! Video: Kind courtesy Kaun Banega Crorepati. Production: Hitesh Harisinghani/

The show obviously takes up a lot of your time. Are you going to cut down on your films for now?

Film projects and KBC shall go side by side.

I have just completed work on Sujoy Ghosh's Badla, starring Taapsee Pannu, Amrita Singh and some exciting newcomers.

Then, there is Thugs Of Hindostan, of which there is already much news. It releases during Diwali.

Nagraj Manjule, who made Sairat, is doing Jhund with me, and that should start soon after KBCends by November.

I am also in Karan Johar's Brahmastra, directed by Ayan Mukerji.

There is Aankhen 2 with Anees Bazmi and a host of very desirable colleagues.

I shall be doing a film with Rumi Jafri, and a film as a gesture to help a member of my staff.

How is the experience working with Aamir Khan in Thugs Of Hindostan?

Working with Aamir has been delightful.

We are together for the first time.

He is an actor, producer, director, assistant director, writer, distributor, exhibitor, marketeer, publicist, hair-make up and costume designer, and proficient in many other hidden aspects of film-making.

So one waits for a few gems from these multifarious attributes to come flying our way as a learning experience during our work days.

Finally, Amitji, a great deal is expected from someone as influential as you whenever a crisis occurs in the country. Do you think these expectations are justified and are they difficult to live up to?

I think my blog has addressed some of these issues.

But to answer your query, you may first have to answer one yourself or perhaps face an interjection from me.

Your observation 'from someone as influential as you' is directed in a manner which you and the reader shall have understood in a way I do not agree with.

I shall accept to be an 'influential' person if what I proclaim in my campaigns for Polio, TB, Hepatitis B, Swachch Bharat, Beti Bachao and the several other campaigns that bring notice to moral and social malaise and integrity, is accepted and brings positive results.

Any other kind of 'influence' that you or any other may imagine is an imagination, a mirage, a delusion, a self deception.

An influence in your mention, I am none such.

But there high social expectations, admittedly unfair, from you.

Having said that, I shall accept that being in the terrain we traverse, it is to be expected.

How one contends with it is a personal decision.

My individual thinking may not be in line with the general strain of thought or vice versa, and I, as a free individual in a free country, shall have the right to keep it or express it for public consumption.

In today's world of immediate and rapid communication consumption, what you say or not shall always have comment, discourse and debate, which at times can and will become vile, vicious and at most times, intolerable.

It shall always be my decision to assess whether the motive of such deliberation has been achieved or is it a mere attention seeking stratagem.

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Subhash K Jha