In the few months since it has been on air, Surya TV's game show ‘Deal or No Deal' appears to have come up trumps for its exciting format, suspense factor, remarkable participants, glamorous models (who hold the cases with the money) and of course most of all, its affable host – actor Mukesh. ‘Deal or No Deal,' which recently completed 50 episodes and which airs on the weekends at 19.30, hinges on the decision-making ability of the contestants. The contestants have to figure out whether to call the deal offered by the banker or override the deal and continue playing for possible higher stakes. Mukesh, who is revelling in his second avatar as a game show host after his stint in ‘Kodeeswaran,' talks about the show to Friday Review. Excerpts from an interview…

Different formats of ‘Deal or No Deal' are aired in over 73 countries and perhaps in as many languages. What is different about the Malayalam version?

Apart from me, you mean? (Laughs). Just kidding. Actually, it is the participants who make the show the success that it is.

They are simply superb. They are people with fascinating stories of life. They come from all walks of life – from fisher folk to teachers to scientists and what not, but what makes each of them so special is that they don't come here for the money or fame. Instead they come here to change their lives, change perspectives. For them winning money is secondary.

Change their lives, perspectives?

Well, for instance, in an episode there was a woman from Neyyatinkara who came on the show with her infant son with the hope that her missing/estranged husband would see the bubbly youngster and then want to come back home to them. Then again there was an 18-year-old who came on the show to request me to tell his father, a stonemason, that he (the father) should not spend his entire savings on alcohol.

Likewise myriad such stories. The more I host the show the more I realise that it is all about human relationships.

What is your biggest challenge as the anchor?

Since there is a lot of one-to-one interaction between the contestants and myself, I have to constantly think on my feet. There is no script and you can never know what the contestants will ask/say. That's where my experience in mimicry, theatre, films and with life itself comes in handy.

How different is this stint as an anchor?

Being the host of ‘Kodeeswaran' gave me the confidence that I can do this one too. This time around, though, it is much more physically and mentally taxing.

In ‘Kodeeswaran' I was comfortably ensconced in a chair asking predetermined questions and only crack a joke or two in between. Here I have to stand throughout the show and help contestants make their decisions on whether to deal or not to deal.

How do you help contestants make their decisions on something that appears to have more to do with luck than logic?

Actually luck only comes in the initial phase of the game. Once you go ahead its all about making the right decision at the right time. Of course, it is up to the contestant to deal or not to deal but I can be their support system and explain the pros and cons.

NITA SATHYENDRAN