With his newest show, Shah Rukh Khan’s finally found the right television shoes for himself, notes Raja Sen.
One of the things we learnt over the last dozen years is that nobody can suit up quite like Amitabh Bachchan.
What the megastar managed to do with Kaun Banega Crorepati is the stuff of pure legend, single-handedly expanding the small-screen while using his diction, poise and grace to position himself as a singularly immaculate gameshow host.
Many an imitator -- including Shah Rukh Khan -- tried to be as warm and cordial, but something was always amiss; the audience could inevitably sniff out the lack of Bachchanism.
Which is why the best thing about Shah Rukh’s new show -- the refreshing Sabse Shaana Kaun -- is that Khan doesn’t try to be at all like Bachchan, or Salman, or anybody else currently on TV.
In the role of a cocky, dry-witted gameshow host who is more than a tad full of himself, Khan’s finally found the right television shoes for himself.
There is no ‘aap’ to be found for miles, as Khan indulges in backslapping camaraderie with his contestants, and pulls it off with a breezy, casual ease that’s been missing from his recent work.
He mocks, he teases, he hugs, he proffers dimpled cheeks to incredulous girls in the crowd. And it all works, because few strut as well as Shah Rukh can.
The show itself features a simple trivia-based format, probably licensed from some popular globally-replicated show.
Contestants compete in teams of two and are asked random questions about any subject at all, and the winning pair gets to win a crore of rupees.
The rub here is that the questions are being thrown to them by video-clips of strangers -- faces of whom are displayed rather spiffily in the form of a fast-flowing strip, a ‘train’ of faces as Khan calls it -- who can ask anything they want.
So the contestants randomly try to figure, based on their own goofy logic, who might ask them an easier/tougher question.
And so the draw of lots goes on, with Khan egging on both teams.
He is, as might be imagined, an unashamedly smooth flirt, as well as a man who always wears an air of cunning intelligence.
It’s a helluva combo -- though I wish he didn’t quote lines from his own movies quite as often.
But all in all, the man knows his patter.
My concern, however, is that in this rather enjoyable opening episode, the contestants seemed quite as charming: a pair of sharp-tongued girls (entertainment journalists, one of whom looked remarkably like Parineeti Chopra) and quick-witted boys (radio-jockeys keen to break out their celebrity impressions) managed to go toe-to-toe with Shah Rukh in terms of repartee and stage presence.
Will Khan manage to extract such charm from nervous wallflowers and stern aunties?
That is the only true question here, the one on which the fate of this latest celebrity-driven show rests.
Because it takes a true superstar to make everyone look good.