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SUDHISH KAMATH
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TV ‘Neengalum Vellalaam Oru Kodi' is drawing quizzers with its mix of funny, bizarre and serious questions

Winning roundNeengalum Vellalaam Oru Kodi
Winning roundNeengalum Vellalaam Oru Kodi

After the first 12 out of 80 episodes rolled out in its first season, the makers of the Tamil KBC, “Neengalum Vellalaam Oru Kodi”, have gone in for a life-line — Audience Poll. Just to be sure that the show's working after the initial buzz and suggestions that some of the questions were too easy.

“The ratings haven't fallen. In fact, we have grown in the third week even with these questions. And the questions were not silly, the options were mocking. The feedback we got was: Don't mock your own questions. We've taken it as constructive feedback and put it to the Big Synergy team,” says K. Sriram, Channel Head, Vijay TV.

“The characteristic of the show is that you play at the level of the contestant. If it's a chaiwala like in ‘Slumdog Millionaire', the questions are made at his level. It's partly science, partly art and it involves a little judgement and experience. The first few questions are meant to be icebreakers and people can slip even in the simplest of questions. Out of 19 people who have been on the show in the first 12 episodes, five have taken lifelines within the first five deceptively simple questions. The reason we employ simple or easy questions is also because it increases the ‘shoutability' factor. People sitting and watching the show shout out at the answer. The idea is not to put an organic chemistry formula question to trip everybody right at the start,” explains Siddharth Basu, one of the masterminds behind the Indian variants of the show.

Siddharth Basu, who runs Big Synergy, was in town to supervise the new schedule — Episodes 13 and 14 — shot on Friday, for Monday and Tuesday evenings.

“You can look up this video on YouTube when a contestant on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire' was asked ‘Which of the following is the largest: A. A Peanut B. An Elephant C. The Moon D. A Kettle... and still got it wrong after using a lifeline. That's part of what the show is supposed to be at the first level. It is supposed to be funny, bizarre and eventually get serious. Sometimes, even stupid questions get wrong answers.”

There has been no dumbing down for the South whatsoever, Basu insists.

“It has never entered our mind. Part of the format is to play at the level of the contestant. To give you an analogy, a show like ‘Mastermind' is like watching Sachin bat in full form. You admire a virtuoso. On KBC, anybody can put bat and ball. It could be your grandmother. Or to give you another analogy of high jump, let's say you can jump 3ft. Since the show is designed as a ladder, we would start easy to make you clear your level before pushing you to jump higher.”

“You will see more and more facets of Suriya during the season. He's making quite an effort, really reaching out to connect to the audience,” adds Basu. “He approached it very conscientiously and sincerity that comes off on screen. We did mock sessions for gameplay, techniques with him and different kinds of people. He hadn't done much real time interaction like theatre before and yet, he's managed that graph in quick time. The idea is to play to the strengths of the star. The idea is not to make him become Amitabh Bachchan or SRK, it has to be Suriya or Suriya plus.”

Last week, viewers got to see a very new side of the star when he danced with a contestant and went down on his knee to propose to her. “When he goes on to the floor, he surprises us,” says Sriram.

SUDHISH KAMATH



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