Munish 'Udham Singh' Makhija is back on TV as cabbie

New Delhi, Sep 15 Remember Udham Singh, the rustic former veejay of Channel [V], who became popular for his rib-tickling wit and sarcasm? He will be seen on TV again in a reality game show, where he acts as a taxi driver.

Monday, September 15, 2008 | 10:12:06 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) Remember Udham Singh, the rustic former veejay of Channel [V], who became popular for his rib-tickling wit and sarcasm? He will be seen on TV again in a reality game show, where he acts as a taxi driver.

Udham Singh, whose real name is Munish Makhija, will play driver-cum-anchor Munna in 'Cash Cab - Meter Chalu Hai' - the Indian version of the Emmy award winning game show 'Cash Cab'. The show starts Monday on UTV's Bindaas channel.

'My character in the show is that of a native from Haryana who is a cab driver and plays a quiz with passengers. I am sporting a glossy uniform throughout the half-hour show and I call my cab 'Beerbhani', which means wife in the native language,' Munish told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

'Like the Udham Singh show, there are also many messages in the garb of dark humour in this show, but with the intention of only having a laugh at the end of the day,' he quipped.

In 'Cash Cab', unsuspecting passengers get into a taxi driven by Munish, not knowing that they are part of a game show providing them an opportunity to win up to Rs.20,000 en route to their destination.

The show has three rounds - 'go slow work in progress', 'speed breaker' and 'fly over' and has two lifelines for the participants. The passenger is asked to leave the cab after three wrong answers.

Munish thinks that the show is a package deal for audiences, complete with humour, general knowledge and money.

'The show will definitely stand out. It is a moving show and not a static one like others,' he said.

'It touches the real lives of people by showing how they hail a cab in the process of cultivating space for their future and running hard in daily life. I have cast a dig at all such issues on the show,' Munish added.

So how different is it from the British and US versions of the show?

'We have taken 'Cash Cab' to a different level. There is no script as such to the show. It's just improvisation of the situation. There is a lifeline 'galaa phaad ke', unlike in the one abroad, where I tell the passenger to seek an answer he doesn't know from random people on the road from the roof of the cab.

'I also keep on distributing fruits to whosoever I feel like during the course of the journey to add fun,' he said.

However, driving through the streets of Mumbai was a tedious task for the anchor, thanks to the traffic.

'The traffic really got me down as I was driving, interacting and quizzing, watching the timer and giving lifelines to the participants,' he said.

He was surprised that many people recognised him as Udham Singh and requested him to get back as a VJ.

'I was shocked to see people and especially youngsters knowing about my previous show. I even wonder how old they would have been when 'Udham Singh' was aired on TV.

'They would ask me if I was the same person and request me to say some dialogues. Sometimes I would get irritated... but the cameras were on.'

So how intelligent were the people he came across?

'Some of them were very nervous and some were plain dumb and even asked for hints while some were supremely intelligent and knew all the answers,' he quipped.

Munish confesses he is not much of a career person and had no particular reason for taking a sabbatical from the small screen.

'It's been about nine years since I left television as I did not see myself fitting in reality shows or family shows, dancing around, singing or acting,' he said.

But he has been kept busy with a radio show called 'The Udham Singh Show' aired every Saturday on 91.1 FM Radio City.

He signed off saying that someone has 'got to make people laugh'.

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