Ageless Wonder

23 Aug,2019


By Shailesh Kapoor


It’s that time of the year again. India’s most iconic television show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) is back again, this time with its 11th season. The first four episodes have set the tone for a 13-week entertaining and engaging ride. The story has been no different, after all, over the last few seasons.

Ninety minutes a day for five days a week is quite some commitment to content. Yet, a sizeable section of the Indian audience makes this commitment year-on-year. Not to mention the various regional versions that have done immensely well over the last decade.

‘What keeps KBC going’ is not such a difficult question to answer. Its exemplary host Amitabh Bachchan, and its family-engaging format, one that’s full of positivity and interactivity, are the two cornerstones on which this 19-year old property rests. But over the years, KBC has acquired more value than just what its content is. And that’s the more interesting aspect to explore here.

We live in times when it’s a matter of days that something that seemed so fresh until very recently, begins to look stale and jaded. This is happening with brands, ads, films, TV shows, cricket, everything. Product lifecycles of media products have reduced in general, as a distracted consumer moves from one to the other in a tearing hurry. In this context, KBC provides a certain comfort in the familiar. It’s that one show you don’t need to wrap your head around and figure out.

Comfort in the familiar is quite an under-rated media thought. Very few shows on Hindi television today can offer this value, because it takes a lot of time and effort for a show to acquire this status. Of the Hindi GEC shows currently on air, only KBC, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai benefit from this idea. And all three have gone to be enduring successes, bucking the growing consumer demand for short-term programming.

In all three, there’s a sense of togetherness and family-inclusiveness. They are ensemble shows, despite very strong lead protagonists helming them. It’s the collective nature of the three, where multiple characters (host and contestants in the case of KBC) keep the flame burning.

But KBC has two advantages over the other two shows in this coveted list. One, it is on air for only about 13 weeks every year, making it much sought-after when it hits the telly. Two, its interactivity is organic and central to its premise. Knowing an answer, when a family of 4-8 members is sitting and watching together, can lead to a moment of pride. Therefore, KBC also fuels family conversations like no other show can.

Would KBC have acquired these values with another host? Almost certainly not. The fit between Bachchan and KBC’s values can only be a freak once-in-many-years kind of happy accident. And that’s why, he keeps getting better with each season, fitting the show even more, by giving a part of himself to it.

Ratings will tell us how well this season does, but KBC may have transcended that test in the last 2-3 seasons. May the legacy live on!



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