By Hindustan Times
Even though big Bollywood stars are all over our TV sets (like an ever-increasing rash), when a superstar like Shah Rukh Khan returns to the small screen after a gap of more than two years, it is quite an event.
We last saw King Khan in Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? (based on the American show Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?) on Star Plus. This time round King Khan hosts Zor Ka Jhatka, based on the international show, Wipeout, in which contestants tackle a water-based obstacle course.
But this show is not being aired on a leading channel like Star Plus; it is on Imagine TV, which has been trying — so far not very successfully — to tackle its own obstacle course of poor ratings. (Whether Shah Rukh manages to pull the channel out of the doldrums is anybody’s guess).
Zor Ka Jhatka has been shot in Argentina, and the roll call of contestants reads like a who’s who of reality TV specialists whose bio datas should really go something like this: ‘I make my living by participating in reality shows. I am excellent at dancing, fighting, crying and conniving on screen. My role model is the late Jade Goody; other icons include Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. Back home, pioneering work was done by Rakhi Sawant in this field. The current torch-bearer is Dolly Bindra.”
So Zor Ka Jhatka has Vindoo Dara Singh, Claudia Ciesla, Bakhtiyar Irani, Raja Chaudhury… and so on and so forth. (If you aren’t surgically attached to your TV — or more accurately to Hindi entertainment channels — during primetime every night, most of these names will probably mean nothing to you. But never mind, it’s never too late to learn).
The contestants have to go through a set of bizarre and totally ridiculous physical challenges — leaping from one giant ball to another, one skittish platform to another, one swaying jhoola to another etc, all of which are placed in water bodies. So contestants keep bouncing off the balls and falling into the water, crashing into moving things and falling into the water, getting hit by more moving things and falling into the water. Imagine Takeshi’s Castle (the Japanese show that airs on Pogo) rolled into slapstick comedy rolled into Fear Factor rolled into juvenile video games and you might get an idea of what Zor Ka Jhatka is about.
So what is Shah Rukh Khan doing in the middle of all this? Standing in a studio giving a running commentary on the contestants crashing into things and falling all over the place, that’s what. This he does with evil childlike glee. If you are a fan of the mad, crazy, unstoppable Shah Rukh whose one-liners and puns come at the speed of light, almost tripping over each other, you will enjoy him on this show. But if you don’t have a taste for the utterly ridiculous, I suggest you watch something more uplifting and worthy.
Shah Rukh was also all over two of the film awards events recently telecast on Star Plus (the Screen awards) and Zee (the Zee awards). In the Screen awards, he got yesteryear star actresses (Zeenat Aman, Hema Malini, Asha Parekh, Rekha) on to the stage and at the second event, it was Hrithik Roshan’s wife who received his attention. It was all quite enjoyable, but at the Zee awards, it was Priyanka Chopra who stole the show by spoofing the films in the running for the Best Film award. Most of these award functions (though quite predictable) make for undemanding, pleasant viewing. The only obstacle: the hundreds of commercials.