Original quizmaster Siddharth Basu credited with producing mega quiz TV shows like ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ is now introducing ‘Newz Wiz’ a current affairs- based game show for high school students, with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan featuring in its debut episode.
Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, an ardent quiz buff himself turns quizmaster for the 13-episode show in English set to air every Sunday morning starting July 24 on the India Today channel.
Set for face-off are students from from classes IX till XII from schools across India divided into 3 teams consisting of 2 participants in each episode. Out of 60 schools shortlisted through an online test, teams from 27 schools are set to participate in the finals.
Basu, who debuted his quizmaster career with ‘Quiz Time’ one of the country’s earliest quiz shows on television 30 years ago on Doordarshan, says the format has been adapted to fit in with the current trends.
“There will be a section where contestants can look up the answers using the Internet It will be like an open book exam. There has been a knowledge revolution because of the Internet and other things that is happening in the world, the exposure has been so much, the levels of learning has also gone up,” says the producer-director.
To make the format of the show more fascinating, the teams would be provided with a phone-in helpline where they can seek help on their answers from a journalist of the concerned field.
Meanwhile, as a school going boy Sardesai had won the Bournvita Quiz contest hosted by Ameen Sayani on All India Radio and later as college student he also participated in Basu’s show. The journalist and TV anchor, who quizzes with his children around the family dining table every Sunday says he is enthused about his new role as quizmaster.
“I came for the first time in Delhi in 1978 January representing the National Cadet Corps (NCC) inter-state quiz competition after which I came to the capital for ‘Quiz Time’ hosted by Basu. So for me doing a quiz show is like going back to my childhood it is great fun,” says Sardesai.
The levels of quizzing in schools in the country, says Basu has become “radical”.
“I go around doing live shows across schools and I find the quizzing levels of students from little known places across the country is fabulous,” he says.
For the brand new show, Basu attempts to delve into the minds of the young. “We want to reach out to students and young people community and have designed the format based on how they are plugging into news, we try to find out how informed they are,” he says.
Knowledge, says the quizmaster, is its own reward.
“Curiosity and skepticism are next. In today’s world there is so much disinformation how do you find out that something is factually right how to distinguish between fact and fiction, fact and mythology. How do you get to the bottom of things. Quizzing teaches you these,” says Basu.
And for television journalist Sardesai, “Kids make for great TV.”
After all the idea for the show came up after producers saw him interview the winner of Spelling Bee competition in the US.
The game show, say organisers, is set to be promoted on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and viewers can win prizes too.