MUMBAI (Reuters) - Almost three years after he left the Indian version of hit quiz show “Who Want’s to Be a Millionaire,” Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan is ready for another stint on television — this time as the host of the Indian version of “Big Brother,” titled “Bigg Boss.”
The 67-year-old actor is arguably the biggest name in Indian cinema and also patriarch of an acting dynasty that includes his son Abhishek and daughter-in-law, ex-Miss World Aishwarya Rai.
Bachchan was the host of “Millionaire” from its 2000 debut and until he fell ill in 2006. Shah Rukh Khan replaced him in 2007, the same year the show was ended.
Now, Bachchan will host the third season of “Bigg Boss,” taking over from Indian actress Shilpa Shetty who made international headlines when she won the British version of “Big Brother” after a racism controversy involving her and fellow contestant Jade Goody, who died earlier this year from cancer.
Reality shows are popular among Indian audiences, but some local versions of global series have stirred controversy.
Complaints of infant exploitation hang over the Indian edition of the BBC show “Baby Borrowers’. The Indian version of “The Moment of Truth,” in which contestants have to answer personal questions, was also heatedly debated in parliament, with some lawmakers calling for it to be banned.
Bachchan spoke to Reuters recently about why India appears hooked on reality TV and why he would never survive life inside the “Bigg Boss” house.
Q: What made you say yes to hosting “Bigg Boss?”
A: “I felt that the format of the show was such that I could do something different with it. If you keep a person locked up inside a house, with no access to phones or newspapers, no clocks, and if this person has some companions in the house, how will he behave? What emotions will arise? Can we pinpoint the reasons for these emotions? I hope we can answer some of these questions.”
Q: You ended your stint on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” in 2006. What made you resist the lure of TV for so long?
A: “There were a lot of people that came to me and we discussed many opportunities but we didn’t come to any solution. It wasn’t the lure as such, just the concept of the shows.”
Q: Do you see yourself participating in a show like this?
A: “No, no, never. How will I ever live like that? How can you not have newspapers in the morning, not have TV? Or a clock? You aren’t able to do anything. I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Q: Is it going to be a tough assignment for you?
A: “Yes, it will be. Whenever you meet a stranger, you don’t ask them personal questions straight away. If I meet you on the street, I won’t ask you why are you wearing a bindi, or are you married. I will have to do that, because the format of the show demands it. That will be tough on me.”
Q: How do you see the growth of Indian reality TV? There have been so many controversies surrounding it lately.
A: “It is all part of the growing-up of society and it had to come some time or the other. The rest of the universe is moving ahead and with so many communication facilities available, it would be difficult to keep anything away. That, and the fact that we have 400 channels. It is unbelievable, nowhere in the world do you have that. It just shows that the nation is growing. And we must give it time. In time, as a nation, as a society, as a people, we will say, we do not like this, we don’t want this and we will get rid of it. But it is too early to pass a judgment.”
Editing by Miral Fahmy