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Salman Khan — 10 Ka Dum

Salman Khan on the small screen was a bigger riot than Salman Khan on 35mm. The quirky actor brought his signature one liners, his wacky humour and the inimitable Sallu ishtyle to the 10 Ka Dum sets. We just couldn’t have enough of him at 9pm on weekends.

USP: Salman’s irresistible charm coupled with his unsparing PJs.

Script: We don’t think there was any! Every moment of 10 Ka Dum was Sallu miyan, original and unplugged.

Camera comfort: Total. “I loved the way he said ‘Aap dekh rahein hain 10 Ka Dummmmmm’ in that typical Salman Khan drawl,” says PR professional Sheetal Jain.

Look: For three months, it was simply a plain black suit, white shirt, an oversized bracelet and a ponytail. Salman hasn’t looked better.

Contestant connect: Salman Khan was kissed, hugged, propositioned and mauled several times. By women, yes. But also by men. And he loved every moment of it. He danced onstage with a star-struck contestant, matched steps with a real-life paanwala to Paan khaaye saiyaan hamaar and fought a tug of war with two contestants. His interaction with Aamir Khan on an episode was probably the best celebrity episode on any game show till date.

Eyeball count: With 10 Ka Dum, Sony’s flagging TRP ratings received a much-needed boost. Salman for President!

t2 rating - 9.5/10

Amitabh Bachchan — Kaun Banega Crorepati

Could the numero uno of Bollywood be any less on the small screen? If there were doubts about Amitabh Bachchan clicking as a mere TV show host after dominating the silver screen for decades, KBC not only dispelled them, but also resurrected AB’s flagging career.

USP: The Big B charisma, the towering personality, the baritone and the classy North Indian vocabulary (we loved it especially when he went “Goodnight, shabba khair, shubhratri…”).

Script: The highlight of the show that had everyone from six to 60 rush back home to be in front of their TV sets, sharp at 9pm. Though you would know what’s coming up after the break — the irrepressible AB senior cracking a joke, delivering a dialogue in trademark fashion or simply breaking into a laugh — there was joy in watching him.

Camera comfort: Just like he romanced his heroines, he romanced the camera as quizmaster.

Look: The black hair and grey beard sparked off a trend. The formal, well-cut suits added to the AB appeal.

Contestant connect:The actor mingled with the contestants easily. For the wide-eyed contestant, a minute spent with Bachchan was like living a life-long dream.

Eyeball count: “I loved Amitabh Bachchan on KBC. He was treading new ground. It was particularly interesting to see how he, being such a huge star, would effortlessly interact with regular people,” says Anjali Basu, a freelance writer.

t2 rating - 9/10

Shah Rukh Khan — Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain?

KBC 3, yes! Paanchvi Pass, no! One didn’t need to be a paanchvi pass to figure out that Shah Rukh Khan was no superstar when it came to the STAR Plus game show.

USP: Not much. While the Bollywood Badshah was riveting on KBC 3, it was a very average SRK who held court on Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? The larger-than-life persona set off by the affable boy-next-door charm that is so Shah Rukh was lacking. The dimpled smile failed to weave magic. There is, however, no denying that what guaranteed the rather dismal show an extended lifeline was the SRK screen presence.

Script: The jokes had vanished. And the superb confidence was at an all-time low. SRK was content to mouth the lines given to him, not going beyond the script even once.

Camera comfort: For once, SRK looked ill at ease in the shoes of quizmaster. His interaction with the kids on the show was never spontaneous.

Look: The faded denims, shirt and smart waistcoat look was a first. The Don looked quite dapper.

Contestant connect: Famous for sending crowds into a tizzy with his presence, there was little connection on the sets of Paanchvi Pass. The playful banter with the family members of contestants on KBC 3 was missing from Paanchvi Pass. Very often, a contestant ended up overshadowing SRK the star.

Eyeball count: “When Shah Rukh Khan decided to make a TV comeback, I was sure that he would be a hit, for it was with television that he had won hearts. While he was a natural with KBC 3, Paanchvi Pass was an outright disappointment,” says homemaker Anwesha Bose.

t2 rating - 6/10

Akshay Kumar — Khatron Ke Khiladi

Who better than the original Khiladi to host Khatron Ke Khiladi? Huge audience interest surrounded Akshay Kumar’s telly debut and he didn’t disappoint. Whether he had a snake strung around his neck or led a leopard on a leash, it was Akshay (and not the 13 “Bollywood bombshells”) who had us drooling.

USP: Drop-dead gorgeous looks, wow moves and easy control over his subjects, namely, the 13 wide-eyed girls on the show. Very sexist, but very hot. The rumoured Rs 1.5 crore fee per episode must have had a significant role to play.

Script: Not hot. The first episodes had a rather awkward Akshay being quite shy with his words. When the girls dunked themselves into a trough of dirty water fishing out snake heads with their mouths, all that the Khiladi could blurt out was a lame “Mind your head”(!!) Things did get a tad better in later episodes, but proved that Akshay is not Akshay without a bound script. We loved that piercing one-finger-in-the-mouth whistle, though.

Camera comfort: The camera loves Akshay and the actor took full advantage. “I particularly liked the dead-pan expression on his face when he would nonchalantly tell a contestant to jump off a 35-storey building or swallow a couple of cockroaches,” laughs banker Partha Guhathakurta.

Look: The closely cropped hair and 10-day old stubble made Akshay yummy. The same can’t be said about the clothes though. Body hugging tees with cut-away sleeves, shorts teamed with an overcoat and a tiger-print jacket were nothing short of bizarre. “Akshay had me in splits when he surfaced on a particular episode in just a ganjee teamed with a long muffler. This was in six degrees in South Africa,” says Partha.

Contestant connect: The girls on the show loved the Khiladi. And he was equally comfortable in their presence — cracking PJs by the dozen, punning on their names and being generous with his hugs. He even pulled a long face when elimination hour arrived.

Eyeball count: Khatron Ke Khiladi struck gold on the TRP charts from the start. Akshay Kumar the host was the sole reason. But why didn’t he try out some of the stunts himself?

t2 rating -8.5/10

Govinda — Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke

Hero No.1 wasn’t quite Host No. 1. Govinda made his television host debut in 2001 with the Sony game show Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke. The trademark Govinda earnestness notwithstanding, Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke was a resounding flop. Does anyone even remember what the show was all about?

USP: Govinda was the only reason why a handful tuned into Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke every week. The man with the electrifying screen presence joked, laughed, sang and tried to dance into the hearts of viewers, unsuccessfully.

Script: Much of what the comedy king said and did on Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke was courtesy Govinda. Refusing to be limited by the script and the deliberately dumbed-down questions, Govinda improvised heavily. In fact, according to industry sources, the Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke team was often asked to stop laughing at Govinda’s laugh-a-minute antics and get down to some serious business!

Camera comfort: Govinda looked easy. Sadly, there were not many people tuned in.

Look: No yellow shirt and red trousers. No Raja Babu shorts or Dulhe Raja sunglasses. Suits were the chosen attire of Govinda the television show host. And yes, he did look quite dapper.

Contestant connect: The Viraar ka chhokra bonded big time with show contestants.

Eyeball count: Despite an in-form Govinda, the lacklustre format ensured few takers for the show

t2 rating - 7/10

Suniel Shetty — Biggest Loser Jeetega

When it came to taking the TV host plunge, could it have been anything but a keep-fit show for apna fighting-fit Anna? Biggest Loser Jeetega, the desi version of the popular American show The Biggest Loser, had macho man Suniel Shetty keeping a check on pounds, lost and gained, by a team of 16 obese hopefuls. During the course of the show’s four-month run, most contestants went from 120 kg to less than half that weight. On-the-set love blossomed for many. Shetty lisped half-sentences and chewed gum throughout, but managed little else.

USP: Nothing. The participants — most of them were facing the camera for the first time — arrested more attention than the 100-film veteran Shetty managed.

Script: Never known for being much of an actor, Shetty’s anchoring skills could at best be described as average. Given to mouth scripted lines like “Aapne iss hafte sirf do kg ghataaye hain,” the poker-faced action hero did just that — mouth them. Stop. Zero expression. Zero passion. Zero improvisation.

Camera comfort: Shetty looked ill at ease. On the days he chose to shake a leg he was disastrous.

Look: The slim and trim Shetty was nevertheless a dude. Amid rumours that he possessed a 23-inch waistline (yes, you heard that right!), the Mischief man’s khaki shirts, linen trousers and super-cool glares made quite a fashion statement.

Contestant connect: Despite the many hiccups, one thing that came easily to Shetty was the bond that he forged with most contestants. He was the elder brother they went to for advice. “I remember a particular instance when two contestants fell in love during the course of the show. Suniel Shetty supported them throughout,” says mass communication student Ritama Ghosh. Shetty has reportedly offered film roles to some BLJ contestants.

Eyeball count: Suniel Shetty didn’t quite interest the audience. The dismal TRP ratings were ample proof.

t2 rating - 5/10

Shilpa Shetty — Bigg Boss

She scores in the looks department but barely passes muster when it comes to holding the show. Pull up your socks, Shilpa, if you care for any!

USP: Women tune in to see what she is wearing and men can’t wait to catch a peek of the 24-inch waistline, among other things. Shilpa is always worth a watch.

Script: Poor. “She can barely manage the lines she has been given, pausing every two seconds, as if she is groping for the dialogues,” says college student Ritika Surana. Guests on the show are in a hurry to flee the couch, for Miss Shetty has nothing engaging to talk about. All she does is crack a bundle of PJs and at times she is the only one laughing. And when she goes “Ahsaanjiiiiiiiiii”, we want to run for cover.

Camera comfort: The camera loves her. It rests not only on her face, but on every contour of her body.

Look: Heavily embellished saris, plunging necklines, fitted kurtas, Shilpa Shetty looks like a million bucks. If only she didn’t open her mouth!

Contestant connect: The Bigg Boss contestants enthusiastically chat up Shilpa every Friday — but only because they don’t see anyone else during the course of the week. But who on earth will have a palate for such brain-dead humour — “Chaliye…ab zaroori hai ki main nazar aoon Shilpa channel par…!” Or “Ab Bigg Boss par lete hai chhota sa break” and then laughs for the next 30 seconds. Inexplicable!

Eyeball count: “One gets a feeling that Shilpa is reading from a script that someone is holding in front of her. And her habit of breaking into laughter without any reason is sometimes even more irritating than Rahul Mahajan’s presence,” says 26-year-old schoolteacher Arundhati Chatterjee.

t2 rating - 6/10

FLOP SHOW!

Anupam Kher and Manisha Koirala on Sawaal Dus Crore Ka

Launched to rival Kaun Banega Crorepati, Sawaal Dus Crore Ka promised 10 times the prize money, but wasn’t half as riveting as KBC. Make it one-tenth. The Kher-Koirala duo — one vapid, the other bloated — was a disaster. When they spoke, it seemed like they had lost their minds. The Zee show was pulled off within a couple of weeks.

Madhuri Dixit on Kahin Na Kahin Koi Hai

Mads playing matchmaker to real-life prospective brides and grooms should have made for an interesting watch. But apart from the dazzling smile, there was nothing familiar about this Madhuri. She was wooden, diffident, too goody-goody. The lovely saris and beautiful sets are the only good memories.

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