Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kaun Banega Addicted

Watching Amitabh Bachchan's "Kaun Banega Croreparti" on television is a fantastic exercise in not just rewiring and acid-testing your grey cells, but understanding the cultural nuances of India as well! It's an addictive & well-lubricated series, and hence immensely enjoyable to be part of such an exercise.

How easy it seems!
Well, KBC is a general knowledge based quiz programme, intended to bring out the best in its participants, all of whom chase the seemingly not-too-far a target of Rs 5 crores. In just 12 seemingly simple steps, you can reach the pot of gold! But no one seems to reach there quite often. Come to think of it - in an informal sitting, if I make you an offer that in just 12 questions you can win Rs 5 crores, and you can use 4 helplines too in the process, you'll think I'm a lunatic (as you will be almost totally sure of winning). But then, on the sets of KBC, not many people actually reach there. Amazing, isn't it?

Amitabh's style has the following distinctly positive elements -

  • Ultimate grace - you will never find Big B losing his calm and composure even under provocation. He remains cool, dignified, solid and friendly towards the participants, and the audience.
  • Helpful hints - perhaps as a part of the programme designers' strategy, Amitabh gives several hints before 'locking' any answer. A smart contestant on the hotseat can easily pick the clues.
  • Puts life even in repetition - the whole format is repetitive. After all, what's there in it? You get 10 people to do "fastest-fingers-first", then you get one of them onto the hot seat, then you throw 13 questions at him/her, then you award the money, and back to step 1. Even then, the whole process looks (feels) totally new everytime Amitabh reboots it. Credit goes to his personal charm, charisma and quality of communication.
  • Sartorial treat - most of the times, the dress designers earn a 10/10 for Big B's fantastic suits and ties. Even the most boring (rare!) of episodes seem to scrape through due to this!
The programme has revelations for you, if you take some pain to delve deeper -
  • A gold-medalist teacher who is on the hotseat, and unable to answer a question because he does not know the meaning of "vacuum" is a big red flag for Indian teaching system
  • A computer engineer (B Tech, 24 yrs of age) who does not know what the "S" in the "SIM" card stands for, is another big red flag for the engineering education in India
  • Many of the apparently easy questions are not easy at all! You realise that once your confident answer (delivered in front of your wife and kids) goes haywire. Ha ha!
  • Even a very slow programme (the KBC is quite slow - just 10 to 20 questions per episode of 1 hour) can be made addictive for millions of viewers, for years on end
These are revelations! And KBC has such nuggets in abundance.

The more things change, the more they remain the same -
  • The show's lead sponsors keep changing. But that does not at all affect the continuity of the show and the brand image "KBC". Logically, at times I think, it should.. as so much is at stake through the active involvement of the lead sponsor. But the KBC brand remains intact, irrespective of all this.
  • Even the anchor changes, and the brand remains intact! Shah Rukh Khan led the show in its third version, and came out a winner. And today when Big B is back, KBC is as vibrant as ever. This is quite amazing. And it indicates that the underlying trust of millions of viewers is much stronger than anything else.
  • KBC appeals to the most intellectual of viewers, as well as to those with no particular interest in the pursuit of knowledge. That's a significant achievement, especially in the Indian context. Perhaps that's why Bollywood was roped in to lead the show.
  • I guess one of the unstated clinchers in the KBC drama (I use this word positively here) is the cultural exploration of the contestant's background, by Big B. The way questions are asked (and answers given) about the personal, social and cultural background of the hotseat'ed' is very revealing. And at times, it seems to overshadow the quiz itself! But no one minds.
  • KBC holds lots of practical lessons for students of management - in marketing / advertising / branding, in operations / processes, and in strategy.
So on the whole, a wholesome treat to eyes, ears and the mind. KBC remains that lottery that can change your entire life, at least for some time!

Rock on, KBC!


Nupur said...

I agree word to word here !

Interesting analysis,like always :)

Unknown said...

good analysis sir

Avinash Choudhary said...

Respected Sir,
Though I don't get to see KBC on TV, but I watch it on You-tube. Mr Amitabh Bachhan is one of the best anchors.The thing I like most in KBC is the command of Amitji on Hindi & his reciting poems in Hindi.
Avinash Choudhary

Unknown said...

Dear Sir,


You represented the plot of KBC amazingly! Even I think that in India after Cricket (and Sachin Tendulkar in particular), KBC is something which binds people across religions, belief, etc.

It is good to see that the ones' who are sitting in their home, watching it on TV are also thrilled with the same intensity, with a person on hot-seat.

Ankur Shukla

Unknown said...

Respected sir,

I completely agree with your views and your analysation regarding KBC.
Amitabhji is one of the most decent personality in every aspect from films to politics.
He has the power of catching "mob attention" from every corner of the world, especialy India.
I hope this time too, with the contrbution of SONY, this show can leave an effective impact on the society.