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'I have butterflies in my stomach before a shoot'

Kunal Guha
India Movies Editorial
6 October 2010

Says Amitabh Bachchan who’s cool,composed,yet petrified about how the audience would react to the latest version of his show Kaun Banega Crorepati 2010

Excerpts from the interview:
Firstly, what keeps you ticking at your age?

I am almost 70 now. The body gets tired if I’m just sitting around. So one should keep doing something. Pt Jawarharlal Nehru had once said, that when he used to leave for his election campaign, he would leave at 5 in the morning and return only at 1-2 in the night, completely exhausted. Then someone had asked him how he manages to keep going after having had such a tiresome day? He replied, ‘When I am in the company of an audience that cheers for me and I hear them applaud and scream for me, I don’t know from where I get the energy to go on.’ I similarly draw energy to go on when I am cheered by the public. So you can say that the euphoria of my audience keeps me ticking.

What has been your personal take-home from working on KBC?
The biggest incentive that this show has given me is that I can have a very personal connect with my fans and well-wishers when they’re sitting on the ‘hot seat’ in front of me. They call me, write me letters, stand outside my house to get a glimpse of me but I never get to know them in person. At the most, I would sign some autographs, shake some hands, but that’s it. Here, I get the opportunity to get to know them, what they do and what are their dreams and aspirations.

Was it a deja vu feeling going back to the KBC set?

Yes, there’s always that feeling of having been there before. But every day on KBC was new based on the new contestant and his story and how far he’s going to go on the show and so on. It’s the contestant that makes the show, not me. If you get an interesting contestant who leads an interesting life and you explore what it means for him to be earning so much money. I was really saddened to read on twitter recently that 78% of India survives on Rs 20 a day. So for them, it is a life changing experience to earn lakhs of rupees in a couple of minutes. In fact, there was a contestant on the show who said that he’s never seen so many zeroes.

Do you also utilise this opportunity to enrich your own general knowledge?
Oh it’s great learning experience. There are many things that I don’t know. Almost 90% of the questions are ones that I wouldn’t be able to answer.

In 2000, you were the only Hindi film actor to venture into television. Today there are many. So has the competition moved down to the small screen?
It’s fantastic to have Salman, Priyanka, Akshay to be hosting different shows on TV right now. I don’t think we work just because we want to compete with each other. I think that would be a wrong attitude. We should dispel that idea. I think we should just enjoy what we’re doing, that’s what we’re here for- to bring as much entertainment to people as we can. The TRPs and GRPs are the channels responsibility, not mine. I just do my job as efficiently and effectively as I can.

Talking of doing your job efficiently, we read about the meticulous preparations and elaborate rehearsals you went through when you returned to the KBC sets. Was it warranted for an actor of your stature?
Nobody is ever going to be perfect, least of all me. I don’t live in this fallacy that I do not need any rehearsal. I think for anything that is going to become public, I want to be absolutely sure about what the mechanics of the show are and what I’m going to do. In fact no amount of preparation is going to be enough for something like this. You may say that I’ve done over 200 films and I shouldn’t be afraid to go in front of the camera. But even today when I have to start something new, I still have butterflies in my stomach in the night when I know I have to go to a shoot the next day.

Is this an attempt at being humble?
No! I am not seeking any kind of humility. This is a fact. We’re all troubled, atleast I am. If I’m going to do something for my people, I always try to figure out how I could give in my best. I keep thinking how I can improve my expressions and my performance all the time.

We’re told that there has been an alteration in the profile of the contestants this year?
I am very glad that you’ve asked this question. What the channel wanted and I felt very strongly as well is that a certain section of our country usually gets ignored. And now with rapid communication that connects us to mid-town and smaller cities and rural India, it was only natural that we pick contestants from there as well. And these are people who are very conversant about what’s happening in the rest of the country. In fact there have been contestants who were from very small villages who’ve led a life of utter deprivation. Like there was a farmer’s son who was the only one to receive education in his village, even when his parents were jeered at for spending money on education while he could’ve been used as a resource on the field. They all have the ability and have the education and such high ideals.

The last time you were on KBC, you had said that Jaya Bachchan had to tug on your shirt at 9pm to come and watch the first episode of KBC, will it be any different this time?
I’ve kept away from it in the past. So I would retire at a part of the house where I cannot hear or see anything and wait for the report to come in from the rest of the family. I think I will be doing something similar this time.

Kaun Banega Crorepati premieres on television on Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday, on the 11th October, at 9:00pm on Sony Entertainment Television.

  • Among the new features & innovations which viewers will see in Kaun Banega Crorepati are:
  • Journey to a crore has become shorter: Number of questions slashed to 12 from 15
  • Five crores in 60 minutes: While answering 12 correct questions can earn you a crore, the 13th question can earn you five Crores!
  • Fastest Finger First contestants get to stay for a week : so more chances of getting on the Hot Seat.
  • Experts Help you win a crore: An expert would be present in the studio each day to help the contestant in his march towards a crore – all a contestant needs to do is to use ‘Ask the Expert’ lifeline.
  • Double Dip: The participant can choose to use the ‘Double Dip’ lifeline – this allows the contestant to give 2 Answers, so if the first answer is incorrect, the contestant can pick one among the options left as his second. Bachchan will refer to this option as the Double Dubki.
  • The viewers get to see the Image of the friend when the contestant uses the Phone-a-Friend lifeline.
  • Timer Clock / Ghadiyal Babu: Adds pace to the game. The contestant will have to answer question 1 & 2 within 30sec and questions 3 to 6 within 45sec. There is no limit on time from question 7 onward

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