Anirban Roy Choudhury

“I filmed a scratch with my daughter as DOP and then sent it to Mr. Bachchan”: Nitesh Tiwari, on KBC promo

The director of Dangal has created a new campaign for Kaun Banega Crorepati... from his home. We spoke to him about the process

One of the most expensive and successful television titles in India – ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ or ‘KBC’ – is a magnum opus that airs on Sony every year. The marquee property delivers both high ratings and great ad rates. Recently, there was speculation on whether Sony will broadcast the second-most expensive TV show (after ‘Bigg Boss’) this year amidst tough economic conditions. The broadcaster has, however, put an end to it by releasing the annual promo that calls for entries.

‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ is the Indian adaptation of British show 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'. Renowned adman-turned-filmmaker Nitesh Tiwari has orchestrated the promo for the upcoming 12th season, like previous years, albeit in different circumstances altogether. India is currently in the third phase of lockdown, and shooting in Mumbai is strictly prohibited. So, Tiwari and his team had to 'work from home'. "I always like to do new things," he says.

At the outset, Tiwari decided to keep it simple. He then started conceptualising the entire film. "I shared the concepts with Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan, and only once he liked it, did we move ahead," informs Tiwari. "So, I made a scratch film, where my nine and half-year-old daughter was the director of photography. We shot it in four different parts of the house, as I wanted Mr Bachchan to shoot it in different parts of the house. After my daughter filmed me, I sent it to the editor, who edited it from her home. And then, I forwarded the scratch film to him (Bachchan)."

Nitesh Tiwari
Nitesh Tiwari

"He (Bachchan) is a veteran and knows things well. Also, it was all kept very simple. Moreover, if I was constantly in touch with him, it would have been distracting as he was doing it all by himself. However, throughout, he was very proactive. Even though I didn't ask him to share shots, he kept doing that by himself. He also told me that if I was not happy with the shoot, I must tell him and he would do it again," says Tiwari.

In normal circumstances, Tiwari would check each and every frame carefully on his monitor while filming and throughout post-production. "I sit with the editor and try all the permutations and combinations, and finish the editing then and there. Same goes with the colourists, music director... But this time, they'd send it to me and I had to see, judge and suggest changes. It was a lot of back and forth," says the ‘Dangal’ director.

The promo has already hit the airwaves. The show will be produced by StudioNEXT, Sony's in-house production unit, and the selection process will be conducted digitally, through its video-on-demand (VOD) platform SonyLIV. But, did the broadcaster, at any point, think about postponing the 12th edition of the show? "Absolutely not," says Amit Raisinghani, head – business planning and communication, Sony Entertainment Television, adding, "Every year, we start our registration process in April/May and launch ‘KBC’ by August/September. The timelines for this year are also the same. However, the impact of the pandemic will be seen in the process. The entire selection process for the first time will go digital. This is something new and we are excited about it."

Amit Raisinghani
Amit Raisinghani

From May 9-22, 2020, one new question will be aired on Sony at 9:00 p.m. – which has been remotely shot and recorded by Bachchan, and created by Tiwari. Details of the online audition process will be explained through a simple tutorial, which will be accessible on SonyLIV. "Once the registration, screening and selection has been completed, we will be in a position to announce the launch date through our main campaign film," informs Raisinghani.

It is not only the filming that has got disrupted, but the media planning has also taken a new turn. Normally, broadcasters would use outdoor hoardings to promote marquee shows. However, this year, there is no one outside to look at the billboards. "Along with Sony (GEC), we have utilised the strength of our network to reach out to the masses with the call for entries promo. Furthermore, digital plays a very crucial part in our marketing mix, and we will use various digital reach options, including social media, to reach out to our audiences," says Raisinghani.

Though the film made by Tiwari conveys the message well, Raisinghani feels work from home ads/promos, in general, has limitations. "We, like everybody else, are responding to the need for these challenging times. While we, perhaps, were amongst the first ones to adopt the ‘Made from home ads/promos’, we also acknowledge the limited scope of such shoots," he concludes.

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