Four reasons why KBC has Aged so well

21 Sep,2018

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

We have known for years that there’s no one like him. But how he keeps getting better at it is still a mystery of sorts

In its 18th year and its 10th season, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) got off to a solid starting, catapulting Sony to the No 1 position in HSM Urban in the process. In the second week too, the show and the channel maintained the momentum. It’s one thing to rate 2+ over a 30-minute daily show. But managing that over 90 minutes is thrice as hard, if not even more. Yet, KBC has done that. Last year, and now this year too, for the first two weeks anyway.

The pioneering format has met with limited success internationally over the last decade. But in India, it is a runaway hit. Two out of the previous nine seasons performed at levels that can be termed below par. But every time there was talk about KBC being past its expiry date, it has bounced back.

In a media environment where fatigue is an increasing issue and new things become passé before they even establish themselves firmly, how has KBC managed to age so well?

Here are four reasons:

4. Because the soaps have not aged so well

While most credit for KBC’s success goes to the show itself, it has also benefited from the inert evolution (actually, the lack of it) of the daily soap genre over the last half a decade. When the staple fails to deliver, the alternative will become the staple. Daily soaps have struggled to keep pace with changing viewer expectations, leaving a yawning gap between the quality of entertainment expected from Hindi GECs and the actual quality being delivered. Every season of KBC, for the last few years at least, has cashed in on this opportunity.

 

3. Evolution of the idea of ‘Entertainment’

As tastes evolve and exposure to entertainment widens, aided by digital exposure in particular, the expectation from ‘Entertainment’ itself will evolve. Over the last few years, the dichotomy of frivolous entertainment versus meaningful content has melted away. You need not be all-masala-no-brains or all-brains-no-masala. Viewers are increasingly looking for the golden middle, where Entertainment and Meaning (call it Awareness or Inspiration or anything else on those lines) merge seamlessly. The film industry has understood this to some extent over the last few years. The biggest film director today is a master craftsman of this amalgamation. If Raju Hirani even made a reality show, it will be like KBC in its spirit. Meaningfully relevant, yet highly entertaining. Again, this is something daily soaps have missed (barring exceptions that you can count of the fingers of half your hand), making KBC’s presence even more striking.

 

2. The family factor

In a nation of 95%+ single-TV households, KBC offers that unifying quality that can connect members of a family across their age and gender. It’s the classic sit-together-and-watch show. It was always that since its launch in 2000, but as the need to sit together and watch goes up, so does KBC’s appeal. It helps, of course, that unlike daily soaps, KBC is not a 52-weeks-a-year show. The anticipation of an upcoming season works at a familial level today. Even the youth, who till a few years ago thought of KBC as the not-so-cool show for their parents, have warmed up to it nicely.

 

1. Because Bachchan has aged so well!

KBC without its host Amitabh Bachchan is unthinkable. With every passing season, he seems to find a subtle new way of engaging differently with the participants and the home viewers alike. Incredibly, even at his age, he is very aware of the emerging trends in the young generation today, and often makes fun of them, in a way that’s adorable and entertaining, but never condaescending. Watch him comment on the lyrics of new Bollywood songs whenever a question to that effect plays out. In context of entertainment, respect and awe often have a secondary connotation of boredom. In Bachchan’s case, he can entertain you and inspire you, while you look at him in awe of the sheer gift of gab, and the unmatched grace his personality exudes. We have known for years that there’s no one like him. But how he keeps getting better at it is still a mystery of sorts.

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