Sunday, September 19, 2010

The magic called KBC

I actually wanted to associate this blog with this post , but as most of you would know , laziness sometimes wins me over and never finished it .

In 2000, we started seeing early promos of Amitabh Bachchan , with a phone number to call to win one crore rupees. Till this time, the concept of quiz-related TV programs had never taken off past the highly educated masses. The problem was really the trade-off between keeping the sanctity of a quiz versus the level of popularity it could generate. On one hand, we had programs like Cross-Fire and Bournvita Quiz Contest, which, though being extremely knowledgeable in their own right, were never past the highly educated minority of people. On the other hand, there were serials similar to the Deal-No deal types which were popular amongst the masses, but depended mostly on luck and hardly had any kind of intellectual touch to it.

As the suspense began to clear up- the rules of the game were made clear. I remember reading somewhere that you needed to answer 15 multiple-choice questions to win 1 crore rupees. Seemed too good to be true. With the experience of the NTS exams behind me - I had the impression that multiple-choice questions were one of the easiest to crack :P .

And then it evolved. From the first person who won Rs.25 lakhs - the show had changed the way India approached general knowledge. Phrases like 'Lock Kiyaa Jayee' and 'Galat jawaab' became household terms - as people from every walk of life imagined themselves in the hot seats. The best example, I remember, was when I had asked a Chemist (Drugstore) owner upto what time did they keep their shop open. The answer was

"Vaise to beta 9 baje tak khulla rakhta hai, lekin ab Crorepati shuru hua hai, to 8:45 ko bandh kar dete hai"

And that was it. Forgotten politicians, sportsmen from otherwise unknown sports, literary gems had come back to the Indian middle class.

But the question was: what made this show so popular? Was it just the money? Was it the the Big B? Was it the unique concept?