20 years and still going strong! Did Sameer Nair, now CEO of Applause Entertainment who was back then in the year 2,000 the programme head at Star TV, ever think that Kaun Banega Crorepati(KBC) would become such a longevous phenomenon?
Recalling the beginnings of what turned out to be a masterplan Sameer Nair remembers walking into the Bachchans’ home Jalsa armed with the VHS of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, the original version of KBC. “Was I sure that it was going to be Mr Bachchan? Absolutely. I was absolutely sure it had to be Mr Bachchan. Only he had the clout to enter every household. At that point of time nothing else was certain.Would the concept work in India? Mr Bachchan himself was advised by everyone to not get into television. I left the VHS with him urging him to ‘Push Play’”
This was in January 2000. After months of indecisiveness Sameer flew to London with Mr Bachchan in April to witness the shooting of Who Wants to Be A Billionaire firsthand.
Says Sameer, “That clinched it. On the flight back Mr Bachchan finally said yes, and we were on. We erected a set for KBC identical to the one for Who Wants To Be A Billionaire. We didn’t cut any corners.”
KBC was decisive for both Mr Bachchan’s career and for the Star channel. It resurrected Mr Bachchan’s career. The Star channel went from 0 to No.1.
Says Sameer, “We had a viewership of 25 million on 2,000.It went up to 90 million on 2010. What KBC did was to reinvent Mr Bachchan’s image . It made him the household favourite in every family. He was the hero of the father and the mother. They introduced their hero to the son and the daughter of the family.”
Looking back Amitabh Bachchan says he never expected the show to be so popular. “No never ..I do believe, as do many, that KBC has become a life-changing experience for many ,. particularly those that come from middleclass India. Living and sitting in the comfort of our individual metros we are completely unaware of the conditions and the lives and the thinking of our own countrymen that inhabit the interiors and the rural regions of India. When these contestants find their space on this KBC platform it is a dream like experience for them.
The format of KBC is unchanged by protocol, and it cannot be altered, but it is the worth and value and participation of the contestants that brings variety each year to this show. They are the heart and soul of KBC. It is they that bring in the stories of their struggle, their challenges and their attitude toward it, their determination to bringing a life changing moment, their concerns towards morality and social impurities and of course the joy and happiness in their victories .