In 2002, Indian Television took the extreme decision of ripping off foreign shows and adapting them to the local palate, and thus, a beautiful show called Kaun Banega Crorepati was born. It was anchored by the one and only…the inimitable… the Superstar of the Millennium – Mr. Amitabh Bachhan.
That was the smart thing about KBC – making it to the ‘hot seat’ itself was deemed to be worth it, just because you could exchange a handshake and a wink with the man himself. If you scooped up millions in the process, that would really take the icing and the cake along with it.
Before you get mad at any of the winners for lugging home obscene amounts of money, do consider the many unforeseen hurdles they have to battle before they bag the top prize.
To begin with, participants have to be competent at interpreting Mr. B’s signals and picking up the clues he drops so casually. If they are unable to do so, it may lead to some rather unpleasant conflicts.
Here is an imaginary dialogue that takes place between the show’s relentless host (the Big B – affectionately abbreviated to BB) and the perspiring participant (PP), a woman:
AB: Your next question is: In which country is the Pashupatinath temple located? A – India, B – Nepal, C – Bhutan, or D – Sri Lanka?
PP (after respectable pause): I think it is A – India.
AB: Madam, at this juncture I usually drop subtle hints to the participant whether she is right or not by mentioning her lifelines, if, of course, she has any. But in your case, I will not be mentioning any lifelines, as you do not require them (quick wink).
PP (correctly interpreting wink): Oh good! In that case I am sure that it is A – India.
PP (bit peeved): Yes, yes.
AB: Lock kar diya jaye?
PP (now banging head on computer mahashay): Yes, yes, yes!
AB: Computer ji, A – India ko lock kar dijiye. Please lock A – India.
(After breathless interval).
AB (delightedly): Yeh bilkul galat jawab! This is the wrong answer!
PP (stupefied): But Sir, you said…
AB: Madam, please remember, it’s not what I said before, but what I say now that matters.
Our Perspiring Participant is not a conniving individual, or else she would surely have resorted to some underhanded tactics as demonstrated by the now-famous Major Ingram, who endeavoured to relieve the show’s producers of their considerable wealth by staging an elaborate mechanism to arrive at the right answer.
The Major was foolish – instead of going to all that trouble, he should instead have adopted the Indian method and slipped some cold hard cash into host Chris Tarrant’s outstretched hands. It might have been far more effective than trying to cheat when you aren’t acquainted with the finer nuances of such a refined art.
The wealthiest winner of the KBC-style quiz show is, of course, the fictional protagonist of Vikas Swarup’s bestseller Slumdog Millionaire. Oops, sorry, I meant Q & A. Simply by virtue of an exotic lifestyle and that elusive ingredient called luck, Mr. Ram Mohammad Thomas answers all the questions correctly and takes home a staggering prize of ten crore rupees.
But life is not so kind to him. After winning this enormous wealth, Ram Mohammad Thomas purchases a private jet and offers to take the Big B with him on an adventure. The Big B acquiesces, and halfway through their journey the jet loses its way. Ram Mohammad Thomas finds himself marooned on an island not with one of the many women of his dreams, but with the best actor the world has ever known.
Now, time for some KBC-2025 on an island with the man himself:
AB: Ram Mohammad Thomas, the next question is – what is your middle name? Is it A – Middle, B – Mubashir, C – Maybe, or D – Mohammad?
RMT: I refuse to answer the question.
AB (drawing his gun): That is not an option!
Ram Mohammad Thomas (hurriedly): In that case, I will use a lifeline.
AB: Ah! Much better! But which?
RMT: Phone a friend?
AB: You have no friends.
RMT: Audience Poll?
AB: Mr. Thomas, you can see that human habitation hasn’t sprouted anywhere near us.
AB: Hehe, I know some of those!
AB: Oh, sorry, I mean, no!
RMT: Why not?
AB: Because I’ve decided the only option I can give you is a double dip.
RMT: Great! So shall I tell you my first answer?
AB: What answer? I meant a double dip in the vast pool that stretches out before us.
And so it happened that Ram Mohammad Thomas, eager to please his new favourite idol, stepped into the swirling waters of the Atlantic, and got swept away by the current.
The Big B threw back his head and laughed a hearty laugh.