New Delhi: Interesting, how the tagline of "Kaun Banega Crorepati" (KBC) season 11 has virtually defined Amitabh Bachchans career. ‘Adey raho (broadly translates to ‘be persistent) goes the slogan and, come to think of it, its iconic host has literally symbolised the trait through a career of 50 years.
KBC 11 ended this week and, given the recent health scare that the 77-year-old Bollywood icon has had, fans are keeping their fingers crossed in the hope that Big B will overcome all impediments and return on the hot seat next year.
For, even as KBC 11 ended on Friday, speculations took over, mainly triggered off by a cryptic blog entry the veteran actor made a few days ago. "I must retire… the head is thinking something else and the fingers another… it's a message…," he wrote on his blog in the early hours of November 27/28, sparking off a deluge of concern among fans.
Was Big B indeed hinting at retirement from cinema and television assignments? Sources close to the actor soon dismissed such notions, saying he simply meant that he was too tired to type - that it had been a long day and the word ‘retire' alluded to retiring for the day, or going off to sleep.
Still, guesswork has continued. Most fans feel Big B, given his incredible energy will continue shooting for films. Film assignments, after all, would let him work at his own pace. The hectic schedule of a five-day quiz show, however, could be more demanding.
The point to note here is those hectic years mark a significant phase of Big B's career graph. KBC after all marked his resurrection as an icon and a brad, at a time when he was struggling to reinvent himself as a Bollywood star.
The year was 2000. The year before, Amitabh Bachchan had four releases - "Lal Badshah", "Sooryavansham", "Hindustan Ki Kasam" and Kohraam". Each of these tried rehashing Bachchan's angry young man image to suit his advancing age, and each fared way below expectation. Coming after a 1998 roster that comprised of "Major Saab" (lukewarm at the box-office) and "Bade Miyan Chote Miyan" (where he was clearly outstripped by Govinda in the slapstick stakes), and the dud "Mrityudaata" in 1997, Big B was suddenly looking for a script to reinvent himself in the public eye. His last spate of solo superhits had happened in the early nineties, and his sojourn as an entrepreneur with ABCL has soured.
KBC season one happened around the time. Over a matter of weeks, Big B's stardom suddenly witnessed rebirth. The angry young man of yore, who had redefined action and drama through the seventies and the eighties, was suddenly redefining home entertainment. KBC's quizmaster par excellence was a charming gentleman with wisdom to share - far removed from the intense avatar he exuded in his heydays. From the larger-than-life action hero, KBC let Big B become the affable guy who would drop by in you living rooms every evening to serve an engaging spell of wisdom.
If the metamorphosis let Bachchan survive where every other actor of his era faded away long before him, the actor too gave KBC - as well as Indian reality television - a defining course. Not only is KBC regarded a cut above most other shows on television, Bachchan's style of conducting it set the gold standard of show hosting in India.
It is a reason why, when the much-younger superstar Shah Rukh Khan tried hosting season three of the show, he could not quite match up to the Bachchan aura.
For the sake of Indian reality TV, we will hope all rumours of Bachchan retiring from television are indeed unfounded.