Mrunal Manmay Dash

The popular game show "Kaun Banega Crorepati" (KBC) hosted by Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is all set to return with its latest edition along with a host of new additions to the format, including the reinstatement of the audience poll.

For the first time in 20 years, the 12th season of "KBC" aired last year underwent several changes to adapt to the social distancing norms of shooting amid the coronavirus pandemic. It hosted no live audience and hence, the lifeline 'audience poll' was replaced by video-a-friend.

According to a statement from Sony Entertainment Television, the show's upcoming 13th season will see a return of the lifeline, the other three lifelines being; 50:50, Ask The Expert and Flip The Question.

"When it comes to lifelines, yes, the 'Audience Poll' is making a comeback this season. With the studio audience being reinstated, the entire vibe of the show has been raised a few notches higher," the statement read.

Bachchan, who began filming the show last week, said he is thrilled that the studio audience is back on set.

"It was probably for the first time, last season, that the studio audience wasn't a part of the show and we saw a major change in the lifelines as well. I for one, truly missed them and their energy... It's infectious.

"I am happy that the studio audience is back this season with a newfound vigor and so is the lifeline Audience Poll. It's an enriching experience for me, each year, to be surrounded by contestants from all walks of life and I look forward to an engaging and a fulfilling game play. These contestants inspire me in every way," the 78-year-old screen icon said.

Bachchan has hosted the show since its inception in 2000, except for the third season in 2007, which was hosted by superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

For the latest season, changes have also been incorporated to 'Fastest Finger First' segment, which decides the contestant who will next take the Hot Seat opposite Bachchan.

The segment has been modified to 'Fastest Finger First Triple Test'. Instead of one question, the answer to which had to be chronologically aligned, contestants will now have to answer three general knowledge questions.

"A leaderboard will showcase the time taken by each contestant to answer the respective questions and the one to answer all three (3) questions correctly in the shortest amount of time will head straight to the Hot Seat," the statement read.

The entire look and feel of the set will also be different, from the floor LED to the use of AR (Augmented Reality).

"A refreshed motorised virtual ceiling and gameplay graphics has been re-engineered. The game timer, that has everyone at the edge of their seats has been aptly re-christened as Dhuk-Dhuki ji'," as per the statement.

Ashish Golwalkar, Head - Content at Sony Entertainment Television and Digital Business, said for a show like "KBC" that has followed a "certain creative pattern", it was time to break the mould.

"While digital auditions replaced the regular audition process, it didn't deter the volume of entries. In fact, the ease of digital audition encouraged a lot more aspirants, based in the remotest areas possible to participate. We are happy with the spiritedness of each contestant, and we are hopeful that they fulfil their KBC journey," Golwalkar said.

Siddhartha Basu, Consultant for "KBC" season 13, said it's heartening to see the show remain an audience-favourite even after 21 years.

"Each season, we've seen participants coming on to the hot seat from across the country, with varied levels of education and occupations, each with a distinct dream and story.

"Among a host of reasons that drives them, a key one is the search for sammaan' or respect. And they win that respect along with what can be life changing amounts of winnings through a knowledge game," Basu said.

Produced by StudioNEXT, "Kaun Banega Crorepati" season 13 will premiere on August 23 on Sony Entertainment Television.

(With Inputs From PTI)