It is rare that a conversation on television in India comes up and ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ is not mentioned. And the game changer at the time was Sameer Nair – now CEO of Turner General Entertainment India. As ‘KBC’ gears to return on television for a fourth season, it is the first time that Nair has not worked in it. But Nair has something else in store – ‘Big Money’. And soon the fate of the two shows, and what they do for the respective channels, would be known. In an exclusive conversation with exchange4media, Nair speaks on ‘KBC’, ‘Big Money’ and the flavour of the month - game shows. Excerpts:
The fortunes of STAR India changed with ‘KBC’, and you were the man behind the show then. Did you ever think of launching ‘KBC’ on Imagine, when the conversation of the show being on the market was up again?
No, never thought of doing ‘KBC’ again. At one time, we were considering doing ‘1 vs 100’, which is quite an interesting show, but now we are all excited about ‘Big Money’.
Do you think the audiences still have an appetite for quiz shows, given the number of them doing the rounds now?
Quiz shows will always have an audience – they are part of the general entertainment programming mix like soaps, talent shows, comedies, etc… The key to their success is freshness and wide audience appeal.
How important is the role of the host in a game show format?
The host or hostess is the person who is the face of the show, the person who strings and holds it all together, the person with whom the show gets associated and known. To that extent, the host can make or break a show. That being said, the host cannot make a tired horse run. The show must have inherent appeal in its idea and format.
There was a lot of talk of you doing a show with Amitabh Bachchan, is that going to happen?
As I had said, we were keen on ‘1vs100’ and we wanted Mr Bachchan to host it, but that plan got shelved. I am sure we will find some other new, exciting show to work with Mr Bachchan again.
Coming to ‘Big Money’, the format is quite similar to ‘KBC’...
‘Big Money’ is nothing like ‘KBC’. All quiz shows ask questions, give help-lines and offer big prize monies, but ‘Big Money’ is super unique in its idea – that of all questions being sourced from what you have seen on TV. Whether soaps, serials, ads, cartoons, spots, news, documentary, music, movies – anything on TV becomes fodder for questions. This makes ‘Big Money’ inclusive. It allows anybody to participate – rich, poor, educated, illiterate, young, old – and the fun part is that you play as a family, win as a family – pretty much the way India watches TV – as a family.
It’s interesting that exactly 10 years after you launched ‘KBC’ with AB on July 3, 2000, Sony has announced it once again with Big B. Do you think ‘KBC’ will change the graph for Sony?
‘KBC’ is a strong franchise, and Mr Bachchan is the original, so I guess it should do well for Sony.
If you were to do ‘KBC’ again would you change anything on the show?
I’m sure the format owners must have done some upgrades to the format, though I’m not sure what those are. In many markets, ‘KBC’ is no longer in prime-time, and is scheduled as part of daytime fare.
A lot of money is spent on creating and marketing reality shows. What is the strategy there?
Reality shows attract new audiences because of their very nature – that of being highly differentiated. At Imagine, all our reality shows have been ‘clutter-breakers’ – very unique in idea, very universal in emotion – from the ‘Swayamvars’ to ‘Raaz’ to now ‘Big Money’. While they are expensive to produce and market, the returns are more than just the proportionate revenues.
And what is the next big thing from Imagine on this?
After ‘Big Money’, comes ‘Meethi Churi No. 1’. It’s a great show from Japan. As you guys say, watch this space for more on that.
What is your expectation from ‘Big Money’?
I believe ‘Big Money’ is refreshingly different – nothing like any game or quiz show ever seen on TV before. Maddy (R Madhavan) is a super host – very natural, very likeable, very confident and very competent. We have spared no effort or money in working with Sid Basu (Siddhartha Basu, Big Synergy) and the team at Big Synergy to create a dazzling, entertaining game show. I really hope that audiences not only like watching ‘Big Money’, but would actually want to participate in it. After all, this is the first time that viewers will be rewarded for all their years of watching TV! (smiles)