A new show in the New Year

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THE SHOWMAN: Shah Rukh Khan in New Delhi on Monday. - PHOTO: SANDEEP SAXENA
THE SHOWMAN: Shah Rukh Khan in New Delhi on Monday. - PHOTO: SANDEEP SAXENA

Mandira Nayar

"I am not going to be a host, but a dost... ."

NEW DELHI: King Khan is all set to become a "dost'' of a billion Indians. Getting bigger than he ever was, Shah Rukh will walk into the bedrooms of regular television-watchers with a brand new edition of "Kaun Banega Crorepati'' (KBC) this January with a refreshing dash of humour, supremely confident about striking the right chord with his "long-time employers'' -- the audience.

"I think the show is about people. People who participate in Kaun Banega Crorepati believe that just participating in the show will give a different turn to their lives. I am not going to be a host, but a dost,'' he said on Monday at a press conference in the Capital organised to unveil the new-look KBC on Star Plus.

While stepping into the shoes of the Big B may not be new to Shah Rukh, it is a question that dominated the press conference all through with news persons desperate to find out more about a contest that has acquired epic proportions as India's cinema icon takes on its biggest superstar.

Asked if he was trying to compete with Amitabh Bachchan by playing "Don'' on the big screen as he recently did and endorsing similar products as him, Shah Rukh glibly managed to talk his way out of any controversy suggesting that he would go on bended knees and in a Santro -- the car he endorses -- to invite the Big B to the show if Star Television wanted him there!

"I don't think anyone believes that in our hearts and minds we are replacing Amitji. It cannot happen,'' he said. "Star Television shares a beautiful relationship with Amitabh Bachchan... they have now got the second best.''

"Not 70 mm"

The booming baritone of the Big B and his benevolent style and his polite "Computerji" might be missing come January, but audiences across the country will get to see a cheeky SRK, sometimes even bratty and definitely far more chatty.

"I don't live in 70 mm. I live in people's hearts and those are this small,'' he said, pointing to the space between his two fingers when asked if he could manage to shrink his larger-than-life image to fit into the television screens.

Far from the politically correct answer that most Bollywood stars would give, it is this appeal of Shah Rukh that Star Television is hoping will make a magical difference to a show that had hit a TRP rut with "KBC 2".

He might not have the trademark Bachchan humility, but according to his fans he has oodles of energy, thinks on his feet, has the ability to make people laugh and, of course, the guts to step into the shoes of the Big B.

"I think you can easily be comfortable with me. Women can, of course, be more comfortable,'' he said, drawing a huge laugh. "I was brought up as a normal middle class boy. Sorry, I was a middle class boy. I think people will realise that I am just like them,'' he added.

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