Its four in the afternoon and Shah Rukh Khan is on the sets of Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? The clock is running. The audiences are in their seats and minutes before “Action,” SRK is playing basketball with the five kids from the show.
Siddharth Basu walks in, with some last- minute instructions for the bacchas, who listen intently.
Shortly after, the group takes their places under the lights. An hour later, they break shoot and we head to SRK’s make-up room.
He tucks into his dabba from home. In between morsels of lunch (at 5 in the evening) he talks about his show, its low ratings, Amitabh Bachchan’s digs and more. Read on.
Do you miss KBC?
I don’t get emotionally attached to my work. I do it to the best of my capability and then, I move on. I am not into nostalgia.
You seem to be enjoying Paanchvi Pass more…
Yes, I am. I like this format. KBC was too restrictive. After a while, it was taxing to make it entertaining. Paanchvi Pass is fun but we don’t shoot more than two episodes a day because the kids get tired. Internationally, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader was much bigger than Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
You already have your first millionaire on the show!
Yes, a lady has won a crore on the show. Two other guys reached that amount but walked away with 50 lakh.
The questions are hard, no?
You and I may find it hard but the kids know the answers. I get about 60 per cent of the answers on the show right but when I go home and ask the questions to my son Aryan, he gets 80 per cent of them right. And there is a reference point, you know where the questions are coming from — class one to class five, so one can prepare oneself.
Amitabh has commented on the low ratings of Paanchvi Pass. Comment.
Yes, I heard about the blog and later, I read it. Mr Bachchan is a huge superstar and normally he is quite reticent and you don’t get to know the views of such people.
It’s nice that he’s blogging now and one gets to know his thoughts and his views on one’s work. But I did not understand the graph on his blog. I don’t understand graphs. I don’t think most people do. I don’t understand TAM, FAM and MAM. I don’t keep track of these technical things.
Have you ever thought of blogging?
No, for three reasons. One, when I type, I do so in caps and on the net, that’s like screaming. Two, because when I write, I write very long copy. And three, I am a very busy man, I don’t have time to write long blogs… also, my colleagues say that they blog because the media writes a lot of things and they want to put their version out there.
So, in short, you end up doing the journalist’s job. In my mind, it’s very clear I am an actor and not a reporter, so I will do my job, and I will let them do theirs. If they write something that’s wrong, I’ll abuse that person and say they got their facts wrong. If they get it right, then I’ll say ‘great, they represented the facts well’.
Your reaction to comparisons between KBC and PP?
I don’t know why comparisons should be drawn between my shows and shows done by other stars. I don’t compare myself to others’ shows. I will compare my ratings to the ratings of my last show. And if Paanchvi Pass has not done well, I accept responsibility.
I’ll take 60 per cent of the blame. If I take credit for the success of my films and my shows, I also accept the brickbats when things go wrong. I don’t need anyone to tell me that my show is not doing well. I am well aware of the facts.
Any theories on why Paanchvi Pass hasn’t got the desired TRPs?
Yes. I don’t think that it’s possible to get the ratings that the first KBC got, or even what the popular saas-bahu soaps were getting at one time. Firstly, because at the time, there weren’t so many channels. Secondly, the IPL has bitten into a large chunk of the audiences.
The other day, I saw Gauri’s mom watching the match with some of her friends, and I thought, ‘That’s sweet, they are watching it because Kolkata is playing.’ But after a few days, I saw them watching the match again, they had all gathered specifically to see the match and my team wasn’t even playing. And these are not the usual cricket fans.
Even Gauri is now going to see all our matches, even the ones that I cannot go to because of my other commitments. Before this, she used to hate cricket and she would never even watch a match at home. The T20 format has clicked. It’s no longer just a game, it has become a social event.
Your thoughts on barbs about low TRPs?
If someone says that my show is a flop, I will work harder. If someone says my show is a hit, I will still work harder, so it doesn’t matter what anyone says. I will continue to work like I always do.
And finally, do you think the ratings of Paanchvi Pass will pick up after IPL ends?
Absolutely. It will pick up for sure. I will take a break shortly and then come back from my holiday and shoot more episodes. Things will have changed by then. If not, we will work harder and ensure they do.