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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Siddhartha Basu is back to being a quizmaster with Quizzer of the Year contest on SonyLIV

Siddhartha Basu is also excited about being a creative consultant on a miniseries on Mahatma Gandhi, to be directed by Hansal Mehta and starring Pratik Gandhi

Ratnalekha Mazumdar Calcutta Published 02.08.23, 12:58 PM
Quizmaster Siddhartha Basu

Quizmaster Siddhartha Basu Sony LIV

For those growing up in the 1980s and ’90s, before the arrival of the internet, he was our Google — our go-to person on television for all things general knowledge. As a quizmaster par excellence, Siddhartha Basu pioneered edutainment in India for school-goers beyond the classroom. His Quiz Time on Doordarshan in 1985 and Mastermind India on BBC in 1998 are now part of television lore, having paved the path for a bunch of future quizzing stars.

The man behind hugely popular TV shows such as Kaun Banega Crorepati and Dus Ka Dum is now back to helming a quiz contest — Quizzer of the Year — with the sole aim of fostering a knowledge culture.

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Along with Anita Kaul Basu and the team at Tree of Knowledge Digital, Quizzer of the Year is a 365-day digital offering on the SonyLIV app for students from Class IX to XII. It’s a daily interactive quiz where students can take part online from anywhere, score points and win prizes along with other participants through an online leaderboard.

Top qualifiers (students) will compete in zonal and national finals, which will be recorded and shown on SonyLIV. The national winners of QOTY can win a prize scholarship of Rs 1 crore rupees. We spoke to Siddhartha Basu on the objective of Quizzer of the Year and his acting plans.

The Telegraph Online: Quizzer of the Year sounds interesting. What’s the intention behind such a concept?

Siddhartha Basu: Our intention behind the app is to let everyone play every day. It’s a round-the-year quiz challenge. We want to foster a general knowledge culture in the country.

Which are the cities that did well?

Siddhartha Basu: It’s pervasive. For instance, certain schools in Delhi, Baroda, Thrissur and Jammu did well. We have participation from all over India. It’s an all-digital 24×7 quiz on general subjects. Anybody with a tablet, an iPad or a laptop can play. It’s curated to be within the reach of everyone.

Do you feel Indian students are using the internet facility constructively?

Siddhartha Basu: Brighter students are using it. There’s so much propaganda and miscommunication but there’s also general exposure. The idea is to build that community. The internet is a powerful tool. People with intelligence use it fantastically. It provides a level of awareness that was impossible even 10 years ago.

As an industry expert, what is your observation on the future of big TV shows as most of them are shifting base to streaming platforms?

Siddhartha Basu: With changes in technology, mass media must change. Advertisement funds are shrinking. The TV reach has shrunk as people can watch things when they want (on streaming platforms). What is offered comes at a price that needs to be recovered from somewhere and they (TV networks) try to do it from their digital avatars too. Now there are so many platforms, but they must find enough subscriptions and viewers to stay solvent. SonyLIV wanted edutainment. They wanted something for the young audience which isn’t pulp entertainment, so we developed Quizzer of the Year.

Coming to acting in films, we loved your performances in Madras Cafe, 36 Vayadhinile, Bombay Velvet and Tiger Zinda Hai. And you will be seen in Boman Irani’s film…

Siddhartha Basu: My passion was theatre. I used to enjoy it. The last thing I did in theatre was Dance Like a Man (written by Mahesh Dattani). We did 40 to 50 shows. It’s still on. Acting in films is not necessarily my cup of tea. I have done small roles for friends. I have done a small cameo in Boman Irani’s directorial debut. We have finished shooting. It will probably be out next year.

What else is keeping you busy at work?

Siddhartha Basu: Besides Quizzer of the Year, I am excited about being a creative consultant on a project on Mahatma Gandhi. It’s an epic miniseries by Applause Entertainment, based on Ramachandra Guha’s works. Hansal Mehta is the director and Pratik Gandhi is playing Gandhi in it.

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