From celebrating knowledge to selling sob stories, this Kaun Banega Crorepati isn’t what we fell in love with

'Kaun Banega Crorepati' came into our lives in the year 2000 and made its mark as a quiz show that celebrated a common man's general knowledge. Sadly, those days are long gone now. KBC is more interested in narrating tragic tales of the contestants and we can't help but remember those good old days.

Written by Sampada Sharma | New Delhi | Published: October 15, 2017 6:00 am
amitabh bachchan, amitabh bachchan images, kbc, kbc images, kaun banega crorepati ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ went from being a quiz show to just another reality show and the current season is an example of the same.

There was a time when we addressed the year 2000 as Y2K and this Y2K sounded like the promise to a better world. Though we now know that progress comes at its own speed and all that changes with a new year is a calendar but back then, the start of a new century sounded like the start of something bigger.

In the year 2000, television saw a massive face-lift. Ekta Kapoor became the queen of television but there was something that could trump the saga of Virani family and as surprising as it may sound, it was a show about GK.

The first season ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ premiered in the year 2000 and along with “creating history” with contestants like Harshvardhan Nawathe, it certainly created a legacy for Indian television. With its easy to understand format and strong emphasis on general knowledge, this show became the glue that joined families at 9 pm every night. From the ever-occupied mother who sped from the kitchen to the television set to answer every question to the young child in the family who still had GK as a subject in school, this show covered all its bases. And it was in this unity, that KBC found a sweet spot that Ramanand Sagar found with Ramayan in the 80s.

The show celebrated knowledge in all its glory. It gave people a sense of confidence that if you are aware and knowledgeable, the world will celebrate you. And this celebration didn’t come empty handed, winning a crore looked like a real possibility. The geeks had a way of cashing in on their knowledge and this was the way they could do it with all the applause. No matter what social or economic class one came from, in the eyes of ‘computer ji’, all were equal. The show inspired people to read more just so one could keep up with Amitabh Bachchan’s questions.

KBC told us that not knowing was not cool and had millions across the country struggling to get to the target, the hot seat.

harshvardhan nawathe, amitabh bachchan, amitabh bachchan images, kbc, kbc images, kaun banega crorepati KBC’s first crorepati, Harshvardhan Nawathe, became a celebrity because of his GK.

Sadly, those days are a part of sweet nostalgia now.

The show is currently in its 9th season but the love affair it once had with gyaan has been over for a while now. The two have been keeping up a marriage that has a lot at stake but we all know that the show’s obsession for sob stories has superseded its love for gyaan.

In the past few seasons, a major shift can be observed in the what we earlier called a quiz show and this came in when KBC felt like it had to compete with the Indian Idols of the TV world. Every contestant that came on the show had a back story to tell and more often than not, it explored the emotional aspects of their life. The quiz show turned into a reality show with a few questions sprinkled in just to keep the format intact. This change in gear from celebrating knowledge to celebrating people was noticeable and the audience could figure that out. Even in the current season, the questions and the lifelines exist but not much time is spent on them. The real drama on the show arises when someone narrates a tragic tale and the producers of the show emphasise on it by playing Black’s theme music in the background. We’ve seen various versions of these on every talent show but wasn’t KBC much more than that?

Call it over-dosage of human interest stories, but the audience doesn’t shed tears in front of their television sets as often as they used to. In fact, we just sit through them waiting for the next question to pop up on the screen. ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ was for the aam janta who could vicariously live through the contestants that got to the glorious hot seat. The aspirational chair gave the message that no matter where you are in life but if you can answer 15 GK questions, you can potentially win big money for it.

amitabh bachchan, amitabh bachchan images, kbc, kbc images, kaun banega crorepati The glorious days when KBC celebrated knowledge are long gone. It’s all about selling sob stories now.

KBC still boasts of high ratings but let’s be honest here, it’s not like Indian TV has such gems that the show is competing against. On one hand, there’s the ever voyeuristic ‘Bigg Boss’ that feeds on our cheap thrills and on the other hand, we have the world of desi fantasy that apparently competes with ‘Game of Thrones’. So clearly, if KBC is the front runner here, we’re not surprised.

Lock kiya jaye? has lost its charm now because we all know that after a 3-minute video explaining the struggles of a contestant, the producers will probably not kick him off in the first five questions. After a story that follows shots of tears in his eyes, the show won’t brutally eliminate him in a swift second. But such is the world of KBC now. The show that inspired the aam janta has turned into a CSR initiative with a celebrity at its helm but the glorious days when it made us pick up the newspaper will always be fondly remembered.

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  1. M
    Mayank Yadav
    Oct 17, 2017 at 9:14 am
    I would agree to opinion of the writer advice a adherent follower of the show since 27 years I have to notice this year a bit boring I mean if u observe one thing the question quality has gone down and Amitabh ji seems to help the contestants indirectly in earlier season it was very tough to Winn higher amounts. In present season apart from that IAS parti nt where questions were quite good. And yes I am not opposing that show shouldn’t show the sober stories of people but they are just su ding and excess of everything is bad I think they should create the balance between compe ion and there csr. Ultimately the show is about GYAN and the real thrill is computer ji asking questions tricky questions.
    1. A
      Amit Anand
      Oct 16, 2017 at 10:51 am
      The problem with this story is that writer is seeing things on KBC through the prism of being a Delhi-ite or a Mumbaikar or a Bangalorean and seems to have grown up in the so called big cities. Therefore, the charm of KBC 'Lock Kiya Jaye' is lost for the writer. This mistake most of us, the journalists, do once we start living in Metro (if we've come from a smaller city). Unfortunately, India is not only about Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai Hyderabad or add 15 next big cities. Most of the population, amongst the 130 crore, live in smaller cities / kasba / villages. And for them, KBC still has a charm. You become a celebrity overnight in your area if you've been to the sets of KBC. And for a person coming from those small cities/kasbas or villages, they definitely has a story to tell. For them, being part of KBC is like a dream come true. So it's expansion of KBC to the heartland of India. Pls stop looking from the prism of being a metro-ci izen living in AC room
      1. A
        Oct 16, 2017 at 9:19 am
        There has to be ONE person who has a different opinion. When a show is trying to educate it's audience about so many issues faced by so many people in this diverse nation, Sampada Sharma thinks it should be like the first one. Stop living in the past, my good friend. Or were you just writing the article to get hits (read:trolling)?
        1. A
          Oct 24, 2017 at 10:11 pm
          It's supposed to be a game show testing knowledge and wit .. it's just turned into sob story.. and since this season was audition based the producers have vetted the contestants based on how sad is ur story. One more thing. In a knowledge based show there are no South Indians.. In all previous seasons there have been equal share of ppl from the south.. for some reason I have not seen a single south Indian in this season ...
        2. Z
          zee dee
          Oct 16, 2017 at 9:18 am
          perfect steps to win KBC 1. Do not hesitate to make up your life stories, if the TRP is good then its good 2. Now say your granpa was a freedom fighter but never acknowledged, your granma was a refugee from rawawalpindi . your papa died in indo-kashmir war or Kargil, your mama is now making both ends meet with ten rupees but youor commitment to Swach Bharat never wavered and that you will use a portion of your win to built toilet. Speaking of your mama, you just reminded of the old song she taught you and if any of your long lost brother during Bombay Riot is present among the audience, you request them to join your singing stand up and with choking voice ' yadon ki bharat........'. Moneys in your pocket
          1. L
            Oct 16, 2017 at 9:17 am
            Though I agree with the jist in the article, the article is bombarded with too many words to come to the point
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