I was very interested when John Humphrys asked this week's Mastermind heat winner Shrirang Raddi about his appearence in Mastermind India,so I've been ferreting around on the interweb the last couple of days to find out what I can about the show. Apologies if any of what follows is inaccurate.
The idea behind Mastermind India belonged to Siddhartha Basu. Siddhartha Basu began his television career in the late 70s as a documentary filmmaker, and he has a highly impressive list of credits as both a producer and presenter of quiz programmes . I may be wrong but I believe that he was the man behind the licensed Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", which of course is at the heart of the smash hit film "Slumdog Millionaire"
Apparently, on a visit to his in-laws home in Surrey in 1985, Siddhartha Basu saw Mastermind for the first time. He liked the show and decided that he would try to bring it to India one day. Eventually this saw him collaborating with BBC World. In a neat little irony, BBC Mastermind India aired for exactly the same five years that Mastermind was taken off BBCTV in England , from 1998 - 2002 !
By all accounts the show was very faithful to its british original, with black chair and all. Like the Magnus Magnusson shows in the UK, Mastermind India travelled around the country and shows were presented from heritage sights. This was enough of an undertaking in the UK. In a country the size of India the mind boggles at the logistics that must have been involved in the staging of the show.
As with the 25 champions of the Magnus Magnusson shows, the 5 series champions of Mastermind India achieved a certain level of celebrity for their achievements. They were : -
1998 Dayita Dhatta
1999 Ajai Banerji
2001 Archana Garodia
2002 Ramanand Janardhanan
In 2002 there was also a tournament between the first four champions, which was won by Archana Garodia. Its food for thought that the first, 3rd and 4th champions were all women, the champion of champions was a woman, and the record score was set by a woman, K.E.Priyamvada, in 2000. All of which just points up the fact that is is high time that Mastermind in the UK had another woman champion. Believe me there are women quizzers out there who are good enough, given that little bit of luck that all successful contenders need.
The show was successful enough that it gave rise to several Mastermind India quizbooks, all compiled by Sidhartha Basu