Way back in 2000, when I was about twelve odd years old, the country’s first megastar transformed dreams into reality – on TV. ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ was a serial which had ushered in a new process of thought altogether in the minds of people; it had lit up lamps of hope in many hearts.
Day after day, night after night, people sat in front of their telephones, incessantly trying to get through to the automated questions and hoping to secure a seat among the ten contestants who made it to the level of the ‘Fastest Finger First’. I too, was no exception.
Despite being underage for the ‘KBC’ which was for ‘grown-ups’, I never lost a waking moment away from the phone and a sleeping one not dreaming about making it to the hot seat. After many such days and nights, on one episode of the show, Amitabh Bachchan announced that there was to be a new show called ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati Junior’. I don’t remember being happier than what I was at that moment. Off vanished al
l my studies into thin air, I braved the hailstorms of scolding at home and secured my seat in front of the landline. Then, one fine day, after a transit period of about a month or so, the irritating beeps of the busy tone made way for the automated questions. A couple of correct answers later, a voice asked me to wait for a call-back on a stipulated day between 9AM to 9PM.
It was as if the heavens had dropped the thing that I wanted the most in my life. I remember ransacking the shelves of the local library and bringing back home every book on General Knowledge available under the sun; then reading and re-reading every single word till they made a permanent place in my memory – you never know, Mr. Bachchan might just ask something that I’d skipped – and that was a risk that I wouldn’t have taken in a lifetime!
D-day arrived and I skipped school. ‘How could I stay away from the telephone’, ‘What if I get late in receiving the call and it goes unanswered’ – were questions that battled for priority in my mind. The morning proceeded towards the day and gradually afternoon crept up on me. There was still hope – a full three hours ahead before I could understand whether or not the gods of Destiny were pleased with me. Hysteria set in after an hour or two, and hope still peeped from some corner of my mind, asking me to be patient.
At around 8.30 in the night – half an hour before my fate would be sealed (or so I thought, back then!) – a neighbour came to inform us that there was something wrong with our telephone – it was apparently ‘out of order’. I picked the phone up and out greeted me a strange noise that will forever be etched in my memory. The noise I still associate with disappointment, somewhere in the back of my mind. ‘KBC Juniors’, since then, never translated into a reality for me.
A decade down the line, the show still survives as the single most watched reality game show on Indian television. Many other game shows roped in many other celebrities, but survival, as they say, is rewarded to the fittest. The reach of the serial has been stretched to incorporate people from troubled backdrops and needy families in this sixth season of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. This gesture of the brains behind the show is commendable to say the least. My dream might not have metamorphosed into reality, but just seeing so many people taking away the much-needed money has an enormous heart-warming effect. Here hoping the show, and Amitabh Bachchan’s ingenious method of connecting with people and hosting it, walk into the sunset of eternity, hand in hand!
(The views expressed by the author are personal)