(A review by KN)

“Just a couple of questions and we are done” sounds more like a dialogue written for FBI agents, isn’t it? Well, it was’nt quite the same when I stepped into Taj Coramandel in Nungambakkam, the heart of Chennai. The banquet hall was brightly lit, we (Murthy and his friend, Lakshmi and I) were fascinated by the simple interiors – huge Belgium mirrors on the walls, chandeliers as big as apartment rooms and a span of chairs neatly arranged in three columns. Huge stagelights made me feel as though I was inside Museum Theatre for a play.

This was the ultimatum of intra Company quizzing – a magnum opus for TCS employees, when the month long scourge of finding one National Quiz champion would end this night; for those who come in late, COQ is an intra – TCS quiz, with a regional prelims, elims and 4 teams, one from each region would make it to the National Final. East, West, North and South. For the quizzing community, the most familiar face was that of Jeyakanthan from Chennai. Being the reigning champ, he was up against TCS Calcutta, Mumbai and Delhi in the finals. Incidentally, all National finalists were from the 4 regional metros/ capitals. The regional series had been played over the month of February 2009, now it was showtime for showdown!

Giri Balasubramanian, the official Quizmaster for the tata group was the QM for this event as well, organized by the Maitree wing of TCS for the last 6 years, I was told. Before the quiz, we had a small cultural program by Maitree’s band – Infinite Loops. There were 4 songs comprising of one hit song each in tamil, hindi, malayalam and telugu movies. Following that, we had a great display of talent by a group of underpriveleged children that TCS supports. The visual imagery was breathtaking that most of us went back to the thing I told you at the beginning – like being in Museum Theatre! Only upon Giri’s entry, we remembered we had come for a quiz!!

Giri started off with an audience question on who/ what is a slump dog millionnaire, the answer for which are those IIM grads who make a mill as start up salaries even in times of recession!! Six rounds followed, with plenty of oohs and aahs, loads of action up on stage, funny answers, great tries but it was one guy who was stunning everyone into silence followed by frenzied applause – JK, who had come with his mother. He proved why he was the reigning champ to the audience. Aimed at the non-quizzer, some of the rounds were fun rounds as well – like there was one that had a combination of 2/3 pictures and the teams were asked to identify the name of a personality. Example – Basketball + Shane Bond = James Bond; A bit of lateral thinking is required, James Naismith founded basketball, so James + Bond. Quite like schoolboy quizzing, but fun nevertheless.

The last round was Giri’s trademark formula – where he would give clues and ask the teams to crack a code. A really unique and very nice concept which I personally like. This is the USP of Giri as a quizmaster. If you have been to Giri’s Tata crucibles, you would be familiar with this one…

Giri was clearly over-reacting on quite a few occasions – “give them a great round of applause”, “that was a great question” to literally every other question made us feel as though they had forgotten to switch off the replay button on the speakers!

The questions were fun oriented, but frankly the infrastructure was wasted – the quiz was mostly textual and we had huge stagelights, 3 screens to boot and yet the questions were being read to us. There were no answer slides for the audience to understand the answers and react; not sure if the audience were meant to be pure puppets, following Giri’s commands to clap and remain silent in alternative overtures.

In the end, the quiz ended with a whimper rather than a bang. Reminded us of the joke about the Aussies winning the world cup time and again, the real fight was always for second place! JK won the quiz hands down, I think he could have gone for a cup of tea over the last two rounds and still have won the quiz handsomely. But all credit goes to JK for his quizzing abilities have grown from strength to strength – this was the first mother-son combination in TCS history to win the Finals!!

Overall, the quiz was a treat to watch (except that our ears had more work than our eyes), an event worth paying for (we paid Rs.100 per head to WATCH the quiz!!) and a grand dinner following the quiz at the Taj!! Next year, I hope to participate and try my hand at giving JK a run for his money… Also in case you are wondering how I ended up in the first place on a TCS intra quiz… figure it out, maybe you will want to ask me a couple of questions on that!!