KBC4 birthday special with Bachchan

South Asia’s version of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?', arguably the region's biggest TV show, kicked off on Monday

At 5.30 UAE time today, if the rush hour traffic seems lighter than usual, then don’t blame it on fleeing denizens of Dubai who have hit another dip in their recessionary downward spiral; far from it in fact.

Today marks the return of arguably South Asia’s biggest television show, with a host that defines Indian cinema across the globe.

Of course, if you’ve just crawled out from under a rock then Sony Entertainment Television will mark the return of reality gameshow, Kaun Banega Crorepati? (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), with celebrity host Amitabh Bachchan.

Bachchan, who also celebrates his 68th birthday today, has been lauded as the pioneer who single-handedly banished the stigma of a big screen star making his way to the idiot box.

Bachchan once famously said in a media conference: “All my friends and well wishers laughed at the idea and told me it was career suicide to host a show on television back in 2000. I asked Jaya [his actor wife] and she said ‘Do it’. Look where I am today.”

Big screen to the idiot box

The actor’s success on television saw many other fellow actors attempt to ape Bachchan’s star innings on the idiot box. Few shined, while others crashed and burned even before they began.

Perhaps the most historical failure was rival Zee TV’s Sawaal Dus Crore Ka, which offered 10 times the prize money offered on KBC, but hosts Anupam Kher and Manisha Koirala simply could not match up to Bachchan’s on-screen persona.

Govinda’s Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke on Sony TV and Shah Rukh Khan’s Kya Aap Panchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? (Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?) on Star Plus, also couldn’t live up to the hype.

Yet, while they failed, Salman Khan on Sony TV’s Dus Ka Dum and now Big Boss on Colors, along with Akhsay Kumar on two season of Colors’ Fear Factor - Khatron Ke Khiladi and host Priyanka Chopra on Season 3 have scored big on the small screen.

Bachchan’s return

While such shows came and fizzled out, the legendary Bachchan went on to host two seasons of the show on Star Television network’s Asian channel, Star Plus. However, he was unable to complete his second season due to an illness and Star eventually axed the show.

The following season saw Star rope in Shah Rukh Khan as host who proved to be an able host, but critically was ridiculed for not being able to hold his own in Bachchan’s shadow.

As Sony hosts a mega bash today to celebrate Bachchan’s birthday and the superstar’s return as a king to his rightful throne in television history, few doubt that the actor would not live up to the hype. It is Bachchan after all, and his legend continues to live on.

The show airs at 5.30pm and a repeat at 9pm on Sony.

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