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Kaun Baneygaa Cretin
|by V. Ravi Kumar|
Auri sacra fames or the accursed hunger for gold as Virgil put it has just become blessed. Blessed by one of the leading politicians, the scion of a leading industrial family and the megastar of them all, the game show called 'Kaun Baneygaa Crorepati' (the Indian version of 'Who wants to be a millionaire') has taken India by storm.
The very concept of such game shows is a sure-fire formula for success as it uses the oldest incentive in business and dovetails it with the so-called sin of greed to leave audiences spellbound. The cocktail thus brewed by the producers ensures the age-old marketing mantra of "ek baar khaayegaa to baar baar khaayegaa' (once hooked you stay hooked). And to cap it all it features as the host, Amitabh Bacchan - the man who is adored by millions across the length and breadth of the country.
Just when advertisers and sponsors were beginning to carp about the attention span of viewers being reduced greatly due to intermittent channel surfing, this program has come about to redeem the almost lost glory of television as THE medium for advertising. The concept (for those who were born yesterday) is very simple. Prospective candidates must call a designated number in their city and answer a simple question. The final contestants are selected through a process of random elimination (through the computer) and ultimately given the opportunity to sit before the host and take a shot at the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However the length of the rainbow here is definite. It comprises 15 questions all of which have to be answered to achieve the said amount. There are two resistance levels - at Rs. 10000 and Rs. 3.2 lacs - which ensures that after reaching these levels, you earn at least these amounts even if you give a wrong answer in the quest for the jackpot. There are also three 'lifelines' wherein the contestant can either take the help of the audience, telephone a friend or reduce the number of options from four to two. In spite of these sops and the generally abysmal level of questions, the intelligent audiences are tortured into watching cretins of all sizes and shapes squirm in the hot seat when faced with questions like
Taj Mahal is located in which of these tourist destinations
A. Delhi B. Agra C. Hyderabad D. Chennai
And the cretinous contestant (hereinafter referred to as Cretin or Cretin Jr.) responds with 'I would like to go in for fifty-fifty' (i.e. cut down the no of choices to two). And the booming baritone of Bacchan responds with a command-in-the-garb-of-a-request to the ubiquitous, omniscient and omnipotent computer. 'Computer ji ('ji' is a vernacular suffix which when appended to a proper noun indicates respect at times and subservience at other times) please remove two of the wrong answers from this set of four' And lo and behold, the computer complies, replete with sound effects like 'dish tnnn Dhan'.
So the remaining choices are
B. Agra D. Chennai
To which the bemused battler, the Cretin, responds with a weak and meek,
"Can I call a friend?'
To which the amused Amitabh responds by saying
'Oh yes sure you can. Whom would you like to call?'
"I would like to call my Dad.'
"What's your dad's name?", asks the big B.
When he sees the contestant looking uncertain, he translates the above question in vernacular. Upon which the Cretin responds
"What are the four options?"
Wishing to cast no further aspersions on the contestant's parentage, the big B desists from this line of interrogation. Again the ubiquitous, omniscient and omnipotent computer comes into the picture. Again the command-in-the-garb-of-a-request
"Computer ji please call up his dad"
The computer (ji) makes some gross noises that indicate it is doing the needful and very soon the voice of the progenitor of the cretinous contestant comes on line.
And upon hearing the booming baritone of the Big B say
"Hello father-of-this-cretin ji, this is Amitabh Bacchan from Star Plus' Kaun Baneygaa Crorepati.
The father-of-the-cretin responds with a gawkish
'haan ji haan ji thankyou ji thankyou ji' (yes, yes thank you thank you)
The niceties over and done with, the big B apprises Cretin Sr. of the task on hand and also informs him that he has 30 seconds to help Cretin Jr. make up his mind. The enormity of the task is brought home to Cretin Sr. even though he too is no mean a cretin.
Cretin Jr. begins in right earnest with
'Papa where is the Taj Mahal located? The options are Agra or Chennai
To which Cretin Sr. makes sympathetic noises that is also his way of indicating to the audience at large that his brain is working. This process of making sympathetic noises continues for about 5 seconds and when he receives no confirmatory signal from either the big B or the audience at large that they have noted the increased activity on his top floor, he acts suo moto.
"Can you repeat the question please"
Cretin Jr. cannot believe that somebody could be so cretinous. A streak of sweat breaks out on his brow and he hastily repeats the questions while the countdown clock clicks happily away like the price offered at a Dutch auction for selling sense to a crowd comprising politicians. Having comprehended the question in its entirety and in the process having broken the existing record for quick comprehension in his family, Cretin Sr. once more manifested the activity in his brain and true to form asked Jr. to repeat the options. And suddenly the stop clock said something to the tune of 'dhannnnnn - tai aun' that indicated in its own perverse way that the allotted time for obtaining assistance from this 'friend' was up. This left Jr. bleating 'papa papa' like a calf who has suddenly been left stranded in the middle of nowhere by its provider of sustenance. With friends like these who needs enemies.
Cretin Jr. now looks up to face his interlocutor and interrogator. He looks cornered. And suddenly in a moment of bravado that has often caused the downfalls of cretins of his ilk, he blurts out
"I will go for option D - Chennai"
While the only reason I can think of Shah Jahan wishing to build Taj Mahal in Chennai is that Mumtaaz belonged to Madurai, I must interrupt this narrative to express my unmitigated and undiluted admiration for the originality of this contestant. Getting back to the narrative, the big B now has to utter some inanities to impress the audience that the huge fee that he is paid to host this show is indeed justified. And pray how does he do that.
"Are you sure?"
To which Cretin Jr., who in the interval when I interrupted my narrative for an obiter dictum, had initiated intense activity in his top floor and come to the unequivocal conclusion that Mumtaaz Mahal was indeed a Tamizh lady, rejoined with an unequivocal
"Yes I am sure"
The big B continued to justify his salary with further inanities
"Shall I lock your answer"
Once cretins make up their minds their minds stay made up. If the big B would have cared to check with me, I would have let him in on this aphorism or should I say axiom. Nonetheless the host good-naturedly persisted
"You have all the time in the world to come to the conclusion. You can sit in that armchair for the next few years and excogitate till one fine day, 'Eureka' you have the answer."
The cretin refused to be misled by such advice and persisted with his refrain of
"No I'm sure - you lock option D Chennai"
Faced with no other option, the big B invoked the ubiquitous, omniscient and omnipotent computer ji.
"Please lock option D"
After the computer has complied, the host looks up at the camera and the unseen millions, and says very sententiously, "We will let you know whether Cretin Jr. was right after a short commercial break"
And thus the entire live audience plus the unseen millions stand by and suffer the torture of the inane propositions made by marketers and advertisers, just to make sure that the Taj has not been relocated. And do they heave a sigh of relief when after that not-so-short commercial break the big B comes back and even more apocalyptically reveals to an eager audience that the Cretin had got it wrong and the Taj was indeed occupying its pride of place in Agra, as of yore. After the necessary commiseration is shown to the thus vanquished contestant, the show goes on because as they say - "the show must go on".
And thus dear friends ends one question on this celebrated show. Stay tuned to this channel and I would bring you further capers inspired from future (and hopefully equally cretinous) participants. Until such time let me dial that number again, what was it - 939 …
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