24.1.07

Shahrukh Khan ko bachaa lo

He has called the computer names in Bengali, Telugu, Haryanvi; he hugs the contestants when they enter, when they reach a good enough position, when they leave ("Don't say 'I quit', say 'Mujhe gale laga do' when you want to leave," he tells them); he gives them high-fives; he addresses them familiarly by butchering their names; he even massages them occasionally; he wants to be called dost, friend.

This is just getting too cute. Shahrukh Khan has the potential of being a good host of Kaun Banega Crorepati, but he is trying too hard.

It isn’t about whether he is a worthy successor to Amitabh Bachchan or not; Mr. B is history, SRK is now. And I don’t like Mr. Now.

First there is the business of creating this oh-so-funky signature song – all hip-hop and bling-bling. This is not a silly game show where you point out things in boxes, okay? This is about general knowledge, even if it is to rate actors according to the number of endorsements for undies and chyanwanprash they have done.

SRK’s vulnerabilities (saying that he is nervous, asking a silly contestant whether he will sign him instead of George Clooney for a film) are too staged. Where is the spontaneity, the k..k..koool factor? Replacing “Lock kar do” with “Freeze it” is about the only real cool thing. But a participant choosing to say, “Kulfi jama do” is so back-of-the-beyond.

The usually suave and sensible producer, Siddharth Basu, should have made certain that there were no jibes at Bachchan. Not because he has to be revered, but because it is a waste of our time. And so defensive. The show started with SRK saying that he wouldn’t speak in shuddh Hindi and gave an example from the B repertoire. He wants to talk in a language that you and I can understand. So talk, no…why give explanations? We know what is understandable and what is not. Funnily enough, for all his efforts, his Compaq Da, Compaq Garu and Compaq Chowdhary are throwing up queries in very high-falutin Hindi. Then what was the big deal?

And there was no need to tell us that people were wondering what he would be dressed in and then informing us he would wear what we want him to…damn, he wants to be some puppet? It is one thing to try populist moves but, really, when a star goes on about being at the beck and call of the audience we know he is begging to be accepted. Wear what you want, as long as it does not hurt the eyes as that red tie, white shirt and grey suit did. It reminded me of my school uniform. And he does address the TV-watching audience as “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls”….that is how Father Rodrigues addressed us.

Now comes the massage bit. SRK offered his services to the contestants to soothe their nerves. The first time he went ahead and did it, fine. Soon enough a contestant who was a complete dullard and was thinking over one question asked him, “Thoda massage denge?” And the good host got up and stood there pummelling his upper back.

Where is the dignity in all this? I can understand being human, being nice, being friendly…but this is sickening. What happens when a female contestant comes in?

I mean it when I say that Shahrukh Khan can be a better TV host than he has been an actor, but will he stop hamming it here at least?

And when will grown-up men (that includes Mr B in his host avatar) stop portraying their fear of their wives? It is just so outlandish and outdated. Real guys don’t get frightened of their wives and keep referring to them, but then real guys are not out to save their marriages or at least the fa├žade that passes for it.

So SRK, instead of asking people to freeze it, turn on the heat. 'Just chill' does not quite become you.

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