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Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2007, 17:46 GMT
India Millionaire's new 'friendly' feel
By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

Shak Rukh Khan on Millionaire
Khan says 'Big B' is a hard act to follow
Millions of Indians were glued to their television screens on Monday evening to watch Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan in his new role as anchor on the Indian version of the television game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

The actor replaced Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, presenter from the time the show was launched in 2000.

The show started with a music video of Shah Rukh Khan, apparently his own idea.

Khan came across as a friendly anchor, who high-fived with a contestant when he got the answer right, spoke in another's native language and even gave a back massage to a third who said he was too nervous.


One viewer, Avanti Shah, told the BBC she found him more enjoyable and entertaining to watch than Bachchan.

It seemed like an overdose of Shah Rukh Khan during the advertisement breaks... I am not sure I am watching it again
Viewer Ashok Ganapathy

"He seems more approachable, as if he is one of us while Amitabh Bachchan would seem very intimidating.

"He rapped a few lines in Bengali when the contestant asked him to, he spoke to another contestant in Tamil to put him at ease and I think he is great! I am definitely watching it tomorrow," she said.

Usha Vaidyanathan said he should take up presenting full time: "He is definitely better dressed than Amitabh Bachchan. I think he should give up acting."

Men, however, seem to think differently.

"He lacks the charisma of Amitabh Bachchan," said Vinay Kanodia.

And Ashok Ganapathy said the show was clearly aimed at women and the younger generation.

"There is an energy he brings to the show no doubt, but he doesn't have the presence of Amitabh Bachchan. His attempts at reaching out to the contestants such as giving a high-five, hugging anyone who doesn't want to play the game any more and even giving back massages seem childish.

"Also, it seemed like an overdose of Shah Rukh Khan because during the advertisement breaks, more than half the ads featured him! I am not sure I am watching it again."


Bachchan made the Indian version of the show, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) or (literally: Who Will Become a Millionaire), so popular that at least 40 million viewers were tuning in during its second season.

As a woman if I was in front of Mr Bachchan I would be in awe of him
Media professional Chaitali Patel

While Shah Rukh Khan has his own vast fan base, many are curious to see whether he will be capable of filling the very large shoes of his predecessor and drawing in as large an audience.

The game, the sets, even the music theme remain the same.

Yet the show is quite different from before, says Siddharth Basu, whose company Synergy Communications is producing it.

"This KBC is different because it has SRK [Shah Rukh Khan] as anchor. The whole texture is playful, youthful and outgoing because he is like that," Mr Basu said.

He said the actor was quite "engaged and involved" when he joined as anchor.

"He does a lot of his own script writing," Mr Basu said. "He is very proactive and that is good because for an anchor, because there is acting involved, a little bit of drama is as important. An anchor needs to think on his feet and with Shah Rukh, he is riding on wings."

Mr Basu said the previous anchor, Amitabh Bachchan, was an "awesome" host.

"He was inimitable, his gravitas did a lot for the show and he was eloquent in both Hindi and English. He was a meticulous person who prepared in great detail before coming on the set and he had great style and substance."

On the other hand, Mr Basu said, Shah Rukh Khan is perfect to draw in younger audiences.

"He has an undisputed sway over the young as well as female audiences and he can charm them in a major way. From the basic feedback that I have, the show has had a huge response from younger people and women who want to participate in the show from the time he's taken over."

The actor has reportedly worked very hard in preparation for his new role as game show host.

He had a mock set installed in house in which he would practise his delivery and questioning skills. He also spent hours on the set practising his lines, his entry and exit from the sets.

His clothes, mostly formal suits, have been designed by Bollywood director and good friend Karan Johar.

'He hugged me'

Media professional Chaitali Patel got a chance to play a mock game with him during one of the rehearsals.

Amitabh Bachchan is taken on a stretcher to the Leelavati hospital in Mumbai
Bachchan gave up the show after ill health

She told the BBC: "As a woman if I was in front of Mr Bachchan I would be in awe of him but in front of Shah Rukh Khan, it's like 'wow!'."

She said Mr Khan came across as "spontaneous, funny, nice and someone who went out of his way to put me at ease".

Ms Patel also said: "When I got voted out of the game, he came over and hugged me and he hugs so well, smells so good!"

Apparently, Mr Khan does that with every contestant who gets voted out of the game.

However, Mr Basu explained this is his way of reaching out to people and everyone, from contestants to crew, got hugged by him.

The actor, who started his career in television, moved on to Bollywood films and delivered numerous hits before coming back full circle to the medium that first gave him recognition.

When he watches the first show with the entire team of KBC, along with millions of other viewers across the country, the chances are he might be thinking the million-dollar question as many others: does he match up or even outperform his predecessor?

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16 Mar 04 |  Entertainment

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