ON THE night of July 14, just about a month prior to the launch of the eighth season of game show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) hosted by superstar Amitabh Bachchan, the Bollywood legend marked his television debut with the launch of Yudh. A limited edition serial on Sony Entertainment Television, the flagship Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) from the Multi Screen Media (MSM) stable, Yudh was one of the most eagerly awaited shows. Like 24 on rival GEC Colors that had Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor as the protagonist, this series too was a finite one. While 24 ran for 24 episodes, Yudh comprised 20 episodes and is touted to be the most expensive fiction series ever produced for the Indian television landscape wherein each episode cost was estimated to be around R3 crore compared to the R2.5 crore per episode cost for 24. The show replaced the once-upon-a-time popular serial Bade Achche Lagte Hain and ran from Monday to Thursday at 10.30 pm. It ended on August 14, just three days prior to the launch of KBC 8.
Despite the difference in their formats, a comparison between KBC and Yudh is inevitable. Both the programmes are riding on one brand: Amitabh Bachchan, and if KBC marks Bachchan's tryst with the non-fiction genre, Yudh is Bachchan's debut in a televised fiction series. All along, KBC has been Sony’s high point, compensating for the low ratings for its other shows. The reason perhaps is not too far to seek. It is brand Bachchan that is the strongest pull factor for the show. But has it been the same in the case of Yudh?
Says Mallikarjun Das, chief executive officer, India at media buying agency Starcom MediaVest Group, “It is all about Bachchan in KBC versus the character he plays in Yudh. In KBC, the audience is dealing with Bachchan and therefore, is keen to know the man in real life. Now, the same audience is watching Bachchan, the actor, in Yudh. Even today, not all of Bachchan's films are hits. He gives flops too. But Bachchan, the individual, will always be a hit.”
On the face of it, Bachchan's KBC avatar has scored over his Yudh performance. If Yudh's average viewership stands at around 911 TVTs (television viewership in thousands) or a 0.43 TVR (television viewership rating), the average viewership for KBC in 2013 stood at 4403 TVTs or a 2.14 TVR.