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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Amitabh Bachchan happiest to see audience on KBC 13 sets: Director Arun Sheshkumar

Ahead of Kaun Banega Crorepati 13, director Arun Sheshkumar spoke exclusively to indianexpress.com about making of KBC, changes in the show's format and host Amitabh Bachchan.

Written by Sana Farzeen | Mumbai |
Updated: August 24, 2021 8:56:52 am
amitabh bachchan kbc 13Amitabh Bachchan hosted KBC 13 returns on August 23. (Photo: Amitabh Bachchan/Blog)

“Nau baj gaye kya?” The time has arrived when every household will echo the same question as Kaun Banega Crorepati 13 is set to premiere tonight. With the aim to celebrate knowledge and self-respect, the show will have Amitabh Bachchan once again taking charge. The new season promises to bring a lot of newnesses, energy and even some changes in the format.

Ahead of the launch, director Arun Sheshkumar spoke exclusively to indianexpress.com to discuss about making of KBC 13, changes in the show and host Amitabh Bachchan.

Excerpts from the conversation..

What can we expect from KBC 13?

There’s a lot of excitement, newness, energy and mazaa this season. The look is different and we have evolved technologically. Also, one will see a completely new fastest finger first, so yes, the content has also changed. With the audience back in the studio, there’s also a greater level of energy, and Amitabh Bachchan is also fully charged. From whatever we have shot till now, each episode has been set up brilliantly, with some very varied stories. I think KBC just gets better with time.

Fastest finger first has been one of the identities of the show. What was the idea behind getting ‘Triple Test’ in its place?

Not many people know that this was the format in the original show. As for us, we wanted to do something different this year, with two objectives. Firstly, the audience will get to see a new selection and process and secondly, the contestant will get a fair chance to reach the hot seat. There are times when people, with absolute great GK skills, may not be technologically so strong to put an answer in a chronological way. With so much pressure, timing, even someone like me has a hard time with the process. We also sometimes have senior citizens or someone with a disability. We wanted to put everyone on the same level. Rather than arranging the options, they would need to answer three questions by choosing just one option. However, they would need to be the fastest even now. It’s just a more fair and easy process compared to the last one.

This season there’s no Karamveer episode and celebrities are back to playing the game. Did you all run out of real heroes?

Honestly, what has happened in the country in the last year, we are all sitting at home trying to live positively. There are still umpteen stories and good causes but we wanted to give freshness and add more energy. At the end of the day, it’s also about entertainment. While the first four days will be all about contestants and their game, on Friday, the ‘Shandaar Shukravaar’ will see celebs from different fields joining in. While they would be playing for a cause, it will take a different, entertaining mode this time.

How was the experience of having audience on the sets of KBC again?

More than anyone else, I think Amitabh Bachchan is happiest to have people back on the set. The contestants too will have support, with the audience poll back. We did miss them a lot and while the energy didn’t drop last time, we can feel the difference with them around. Iss baar zyada energy hai (there’s more energy this time). Also, Big B has a special connect with them and he missed them. Recently, a woman was sitting with her arms crossed for a long time, and he pointed that out to her. Imagine how keenly he observes each member. That’s the level of fondness he has for them.

arun sheshkumar, amitabh bachchan, kbc, kbc 13 Arun Sheshkumar poses with Amitabh Bachchan on KBC set. (Photo: PR)

When you work on a new season, do you want to stick to the KBC magic or always add some twist to it?

Every year when the season gets over, we all have a post-mortem session, just a couple of days after the finale. As a team of around 50 people, we individually note down what worked and what didn’t, and how we could safeguard certain things. So by the time the next season is announced, we have our own research ready, and we are bubbling with new ideas. While we do believe in keeping the classic-ness intact, we do try to add a new flavour each season, without disturbing the soul. The tadka is always the differentiator each season.

Tell us about the emotions running on the first day of shoot?

(Takes a pause) I really can’t describe it in words. Of course, there’s is always a different level of stress and pressure to do better but as soon as the man walks into the set, everything just chances. I can’t even tell you how much energy Mr Bachchan adds. Compared to last year, he is quite different this season. There is a newness in him, and his zest for life is contagious. He is working more than ever, without any sleep and has a crazy schedule but his energy is four folds on the KBC set.

Given you guys shot last year amid the pandemic, did the experience make things easier when you resumed work for KBC 13?

Last year was really tough, none of us were vaccinated and quite stressed since we all had stepped out of the house for the first time. Now we are used to wearing the mask and the protocols have become part of our lives. I think we have a stricter SOP this time but we are all prepared. God has been kind, we managed to swim through last year without any issues and I pray everything goes well this time too. We have our safety precautions at 200 per cent on set.

Lastly, KBC each year also faces a lot of criticism for selling sob stories. What would you say about that?

We are not doing it consciously, as there are times when contestants have come, had fun and laughed on the show. Unfortunately, not just KBC but most reality shows seem as if they are selling stories. We are here to entertain but a contestant will have his own journey to share, or sometimes Big B has his life anecdotes. It’s never deliberate and not that we pick only underprivileged people. We chose 10 deserving contestants for the platform and out of that, only the most deserving gets to be on the hot seat. We don’t even know where they will end up, all that we do is pray that they can do well. There’s also a lot to do with the relatable factor. As a millionaire winning a few lakhs won’t be remembered by anyone but a school cook Babita Tade going on to win Rs 1 crore makes a mark.

Starting tonight, Kaun Banega Crorepati 13 will air Monday-Friday, 9 pm on Sony TV.

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