His love affair with television began in 2000 and it continues to this day. Amitabh Bachchan started off the trend of filmstars seeing TV as a viable medium.
But the fact remains that no one has matched the sort of popularity he invokes. The man, however, credits the game show format for his success. Excerpts from the interview...
As you gear up for yet another season of Kaun Banega Crorepati on Sony TV, is there anxiety?
Each season has its apprehensions, its nervousness and butterflies and elephants roaming in the stomach! I believe that any kind of public exposure, does that to an individual... at least it does that to me. Others seem a lot braver. I am not. I just feel very self-conscious, but it's a job to be done and one wants to do the best. But yes, it's frightening to be in front of the camera, in front of so many people. What are we going to do with the contestants, how are we going to conduct the show... all these questions do come up.
You've been credited with changing the face of Indian television...
Gosh! That's an unfair assumption. The game itself is the game changer. The format of the game is something unique. Designed by a psychologist-cum-scientist, it has succeeded in more than 80 countries. And I haven't anchored the 80 shows, so it's really the game and not the anchor.
What was the draw for you in 2000 when you did this show? And what's it today?
I have always felt that if there are creative opportunities in different mediums — whether it is cinema, television, stage — one should attempt them, but I never new how to go about it. When this opportunity came, I looked at it carefully and just took a wild jump. Everyone guided me against it saying you are reducing yourself from 70 mm frame to 25 mm screen. It's a death knell for most actors. But, I liked what they showed me. I saw the original, I met Christ Tarrent, the first host of the game show. I asked them if they could produce it exactly that way and to their credit, they did and that's how we got started. Twelve years down the lane, it's still a moment of great excitement.
Television and social media, has brought you very close to your audiences. But earlier the general belief was that stars should be elusive...
I agree the mediums of communication were very rare earlier... we just had the printing press and magazines. Stars were mostly confined to one destination and one barely got the opportunity to see them publicly. Now with the expanse of mediums, it's very difficult not to be known or not to be able to express yourself or want to keep anything mystical about you. Everything about you is recorded. It's not right to say that you are losing your mystique or aura because you are making yourself more public. As far as coming closer to the audiences is concerned, I have always felt that they are the people responsible for where we are. It is their love and affection that has brought us to this stage and any medium that connects me to them, I'm ready to join it.
Was there a conscious decision that you took in the last few years... to be more accessible?
No. Actually, somebody from the technical side came and told me you need to have a website where your correct information should go out because there are many fake sites with a lot of incorrect material. That they said will take around seven months and I said isn't there something that can happen tomorrow and they said , "You could write a blog". That's how it started and it got bigger gradually.
But people still want to know... what the real Amitabh Bachchan is like. An introvert or somebody very open?
Just the other day I was talking about this, about how this is the most repeated question I'm asked... I'm just another name. I don't see why there should be anything different. We are in a profession that has made us larger-than-life by the acts that we do. But we are just like normal people. We are all human beings with similar feelings, affections and emotions.
The Coolie incident completed 30 years earlier this month and there was buzz that you were planning to document the incident?
It was on my blog, my respondents who are now my extended family keep asking about it and I said yes, one day I'll tell you all the details about what happened that day. Most of it is unpleasant so I don't want to destroy their peace of mind.
They call you 30-year-old because August 2 is viewed as your second birthday...
It's because when I was in hospital in Bangalore and then because my situation was getting very grave I had to be shifted. Medical facilities in Bangalore were not that proficient at that time; of course now they are brilliant. I had to go through another immediate surgery and it was that surgery that I didn't come out of. I was in coma and clinically dead for a couple of minutes. When I came out of it, they felt it was a kind of rebirth and wanted to celebrate it as my second birthday.
You have done a variety of roles, but is there something you haven't done and really want to do?
I have not thought about it but I hope there are some directors who can think about it. If they feel this is something I should be doing, I go ahead and do it. I could never have thought of something like Sanjay Leela Bhansali thought for me in Black or R Balki did for Paa.
For now, clearly it's KBC on your mind. Are there any changes this season?
The basic format is the same; we can't change that because that's contracted by the company that owns it. We keep making small additions which you may have seen in the last season like providing video clips of contestants in the circumstances they are. It's a wonderful idea and continue to do that. Our emphasis this time is gyaan hi aapko apka haq dilata hai. You could be from humble circumstances but if you were to develop your knowledge and educate yourself you could one day perhaps exercise your right in society. I have particularly found that almost all the winners of large amounts have been individuals that have come from very humble backgrounds.
Source - Times of india