Quizzing the quizmaster

Sep 28, 2018, 08:27 IST | Dalreen Ramos

Siddhartha Basu on his new book, the quizzing culture in India, and early memories

Quizzing the quizmaster
Siddhartha Basu

Your time starts now. The sentence alone is enough to take us back to memories of watching a quiz show, inducing anticipation for the viewer and of course, stress for participants. And Siddhartha Basu is no stranger to that statement. He has been associated with a long list of competitions — beginning with hosting Quiz Time that first aired on Doodarshan in 1985, and, in 2000, success followed with Kaun Banega Crorepati where Basu turned producer. In an event hosted by Crossword Bookstores in Mumbai this Saturday, the quizmaster is all set to release his new book, Indian Century (DK Books). Edited excerpts from an interview.

What are the key elements that make for an engaging quiz? How much of that has been translated into this book?
The key is to whet curiosity and intrigue interest, sometimes underlining facts or far better, leading into facts which are lesser known or not known at all, which sheds new light on our understanding. That's the guiding line of Indian Century, which is an illustrated, elegantly presented quizipedia curated on a formative period of independent India, full of nuggets on the making and makers of modern India, meant to be read and savoured with interest. It's not a collection of questions and answers at all.

You were one of the pioneers of tele quizzing in India with Quiz Time. Are TV quiz shows relevant today? If yes, then do you have any plans to revive it?
Well, currently we've got KBC, which has
taken Sony to the top of the table from its very first week of telecast. And then there's Newswiz
on India Today, an exciting, competitive, current affairs quiz with the best school teams from across the country. There's place for a lot more.

What advice would you give to budding quizzers today when information is so easily accessible?
Use Googled knowledge intelligently, so that you can use it to massively expand your general knowledge, by being able to tell fact from fiction, and facts from what's fake. We've introduced open web quizzing on Newswiz, and getting to the right facts from reliable sources accurately and quickly can be a challenge. It needs to be mastered.

Your favourite memory as a quizmaster.
The best quiz memories are created when someone cracks a challenging question, and those are inevitably the last ones — most recently, when someone cracked a '1 crore question on KBC, or a team which cracked a three-way tie breaker on Newswiz in ultra quick time.

Rapid fire with Basu
One question you'd like to ask Virat Kohli:

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli ko itna gussa kyun aata hai?

The toughest question you've ever been asked:
I'm the one who does the asking, so I'm still looking for it — we need lots of those, all the time, and it's thrilling when someone answers a tough one.

Which celebrity would you like to seat on the famous black chair as part of the BBC Mastermind India Quiz that you brought to India?


Shashi Tharoor
Some of those who used to be ace quizzers in my college, when I had nothing to do with quizzing, being totally wrapped up in theatre — such as Ramachandra Guha and Shashi Tharoor.

Ramchandra Guha
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