31 July 2016

Quiz Shows


Today morning I watched Rajdeep Sardesai's new quiz show called 'News-Wiz' on India Today channel. It was okay and Rajdeep behaved like a good quiz master. (Didn't ask his participants when they would settle down?). The participants were school children from different parts of India. Looking at the innocent faces of the participants, I felt so nostalgic. I was missing my childhood days when I loved quizzing a lot. I was really passionate about quizzing back in those days. 

I still remember very faintly Siddhartha Basu's 'Quiz Time' on Doordarshan. I was very young then. This quiz show was shown on DD1 in the eighties and it was hugely popular back then.  

In the nineties there was 'Bournvita Quiz Contest' on Zee TV. The show was hosted by Derek O'Brien.

Then I remember 'Mastermind India' hosted by Siddhartha Basu on BBC. This was a really tough quiz contest. The show was followed by a quiz book too. The first time I bought a quiz book for myself was from College Street when I was very young. I still have that book.  

Then comes the mother of all quiz shows - Kaun Banega Crorepati? It was Amitabh Bachchan's debut on the small screen. Big B was going through a very rough patch throughout the nineties and through KBC in the year 2000 he again rose like a phoenix from the ashes. KBC was aired on Star Plus. The show became so popular that the streets would run empty. Cinema halls reported almost zero attendance for the night shows. The last time such a thing had happened in India was during the telecast of Mahabharat on Sunday mornings. The first Crorepati on KBC was a man named Harshvardhan Navathe. The charisma of Big B in the show was stupendous. This show was not only about money. It was about ordinary citizens encountering extraordinary situations and sitting in front of the one and only Amitabh Bachchan.

During the KBC days, Big B had started wearing a blue sapphire ring. Many people said that his luck came back to him once he started wearing this neelam stone. In those days I was in Class XI. I used to go for Accountancy tuitions. A friend of my Accountancy tutor won 50 lakhs on KBC. That guy was studying for CA exams. After winning the money he decided not to appear for CA exams that year and instead got married to his girlfriend. 

I also tried very hard to get into KBC. Whenever the phone lines opened for the general public, I called repeatedly and always answered correctly. Most of the time the line used to be engaged. It was very difficult to get through. I even used to call throughout the night and used to connect successfully around 3 or 4 a.m. Every time I gave the right answer but the computer never picked me for the second round. Bad luck!   

KBC continued for a few more seasons and later Shah Rukh Khan hosted it too, but the charm, novelty and magic of Season One were not there any more. Gradually the show lost its appeal and we all moved on with our lives. When Shah Rukh Khan first hosted it, the contestant was the incumbent contestant from the previous season when Big B used to host it. SRK commented that for the first time in human history, the contestant has remained the same whereas the quiz master has changed. Since the contestant was from Calcutta therefore SRK sang a few lines from the song 'Dekho Dekho Chamatkar' from his 1992 film 'Chamatkar'. The lines were :

Chom Chom Langchya Paantua
Chao Ke Dao Boley
Bombai Thekey Dum Dum-ey
Urey Jao Choley
Kolkatai Raat Ki Din
Hor Dom-ee Load Shedding
Chon Mon Chon Mon
Keno Je Ei Mon
Ghurchhey Bon Bon
Aamee Bhabchhi...

Star Plus conquered the entire prime time slot first with KBC and then with 'Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki' and 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi'. Zee TV was left sulking. Zee tried to hit back at Star with 'Sawal Dus Crore Ka' but it flopped miserably. This quiz show was hosted by Anupam Kher and Manisha Koirala. I still remember this particular episode when Manisha Koirala struggled to pronounce the name Hiranyakashipu in a quiz question. And Anupam Kher's 'freeze it' was no match for Amitabh Bachchan's 'Lock Kiya Jai?'. Back then The Telegraph newspaper had carried out an article on Anupam Kher titled 'Fools Rush In'. 

Zee even tried out a strange format in the name of 'Aap Jo Bole Haan Toh Haan, Aap Jo Bole Naa Toh Naa'. It also failed miserably. Most probably Suhel Seth was the host of this show. Star TV's stars were on the rise and Zee could do nothing to stop them. To counter Star TV, Sony tried out something called 'Jeeto Chhappar Phaad Ke' which was hosted by Govinda but this show was simply utter crap. 

Years later Shah Rukh Khan hosted 'Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hai?' which was the Indian version of 'Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?'. This show was aired on Star Plus and it flopped. 


A long time back there was another quiz show which was hosted by Barry O'Brien most probably on Doordarshan. I can't remember its name. There once Barry asked the young contestants, who were all school children, how they felt being in the show? One honest boy replied, "Could you please make these seats a little more comfortable?". Barry was so impressed by the little boy's honesty that he immediately gave him a gift. 

During my childhood days in the eighties and nineties, The Telegraph Colour Magazine used to have a page dedicated to quiz by Neil O'Brien. I was an avid follower of this quiz page. The answers were given on the same page but they were printed upside down. 

There was once this crude and weird quiz show called 'Comedy Quiz' on DD7. Though it was not at all funny on any level. There was another quiz show on Bangla Doordarshan which was quite okay. Can't recollect its name now. A few years back Sourav Ganguly hosted the bengali version of KBC. KBC also had other regional versions in Tamil, Kannada, Bhojpuri etc. 

A few weeks back Neil O'Brien passed away at the ripe age of 82. He was the grand old man of quizzing in India. End of an era. May his Soul rest in peace...


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