Arun Sheshkumar has worked with all the superstars -- the best of the best -- from the Hindi film industry on various reality shows but for him, there is nobody quite like – well, you guessed it right! – Amitabh Bachchan.
Sheshkumar, the director of the currently on-air, popular quiz show, Kaun Banega Crorepati for many seasons, says that he is lucky to have collaborated with all the superstars the country has produced on television, but Big B has a small edge over others because of the human side of his personality.
In a conversation with Outlook, the man behind the Indian adaptation of popular British TV show, Who Wants To Be A Millionnaire, it is very difficult to imagine KBC without Mr Bachchan because of the inimitable way he hosts the show. “KBC has become a habit with the viewers because of the style in which Mr Bachchan conducts the programme, whether it is his manner of saying ‘computer-ji, lock kiya jaaye’ or anything else,” he points out. “No other host of a reality show in the world does it like him. It would be difficult for anybody else to create such a style.”
Sheshkumar, who has worked with big stars such as Aamir Khan in Satyamev Jayate and Salman Khan in 10 Ka Dum, apart from being at the helm of almost all the other major reality shows in his career spanning two decades says that Shah Rukh who had also hosted KBC for one season is also a great superstar and his charm works whenever he does a show. “But Bachchan’s acceptability in KBC has been there in every household since 2000 simply because of the way he does it,” he says. “From a seven-year-old boy to a 70-year-old man, everybody loves this show. Nobody else connects with the audiences quite like him.”
Sheshkumar says that his journey with KBC for more than a decade has been quite fulfilling. “KBC has been topping the charts again and it has become a No. 1 show again in the non-fiction space this season,” he says. “It’s a matter of great honour and pride, though we don’t work for the ratings but for the viewers. This is one show which not only entertains people but also educates them. It provides what I would like to call ‘edutainment’. Moreover, it is getting better and better in every season. With the kind of content and looks it is providing with the help of new technology, it is evolving every year.”
Sheshkumar admits that Bachchan is the biggest USP of the show. “My experience of working with him for over a decade is that very few people get to see the human side of him. “Given the heights of popularity he attained and his status as a superstar, he does not have to do what he does on the sets. But he is so grounded, so humane and so reachable to even a common man. He realises the importance of everybody on the sets, including the crew and the audiences. He is thankful to each one of them,” he says.
Underlining that Bachchan has an emotional attachment to KBC due to his 19-year-long association, Sheshkumar states that the 77-year-old superstar keeps telling all the unit members that each one of them works hard to make his job smooth and easier. “It does not come from an ordinary person, it comes from a great human being,” the director adds. “He comforts everybody, including the audiences, signing autographs by the dozen and taking pictures with all of them. That is simply unbelievable and a great learning experience for me.”
According to Sheshkumar, KBC should not be compared with other shows because each show has its own purpose, genre, and goal but KBC is definitely the most organised shoot in India. “All other shows are great in their own right but KBC is extra special,” he concludes.