Okay, folks, it’s time for a reality check.
That means the time has come for ‘Bigg Boss, Bigg Boss – Hamare dil ki shaan… tra-la-la la-la…etcétera etcétera..’ Altogether now, sing and shout and move about on the spot, just like the inmates of the reality show do the moment the alarm wakes them up at some godforsaken hour of the morning.
From the looks of it, they jump, slouch out of sleep and rush to the garden where they immediately begin to exercise their vocal chords loudly, along with their bodies — all this without brushing their teeth, hair or visiting the facilities for you-know-what. Or so it seems to the viewer.
Er, do we really want to watch them brush their teeth? Good question. Why not? Isn’t Bigg B all about domesticity — a 2022 Mahabharata where the makeshift family of contestants live and fight to the very bitter end till the last woman or man standing wins loads and loads of moolah?
What is Bigg Boss without a fight?
Watching Season 16 of the reality show on Colors, the eyes grew wider, bigger and rounder in disbelief: was this for real? And, wasn’t it just like the prime time debates on news channels — after all, the inmates of the Bigg Boss house scream with increasing venom and hurl accusations at one another while they magnify the smallest of issues into irreconcilable differences, that too, within seconds. What was it that Shiv Thakare said to the house ‘captain’ Nimrit Kaur Ahluwalia? “(Here) an issue that ought to last a minute lengthens into an hour.” Why, that’s precisely what happens in the debates!
If TV news debates are conflict zones, Bigg Boss is a battlefield. While debate participants may ‘Row over Hanuman and Ravan’ (Times Now) because in the film Adipurush, Hanuman is, reportedly, depicted incorrectly, the Bigg B family is busy rowing over life and death matters — who should pull the plug in the kitchen sink? Whose duty is it to clean the inside of the said wash basin? Does the person who cleaned the inside clean the outside too or is that asking too much?
Well, actor Shalin Bhanot had a non-sequitur reply to that: “I have never cleaned a commode (before)…” but he does so now on Bigg Boss. Moral of the story? There is always a first time to unplug the sink and clean it from inside and outside.
As so often happens on TV debates, the ‘captain’ of Bigg B instigates many of the fights — which is what any news anchor worth the name does during debates. Captain Nimrit is in the thick of things from Day One, literally, yelling at her crew mates—calling them mad, or saying, “Have you lost your mind?” You ought to have seen the scene she created after one of the contestants, politician Archana Gautam, wrote ‘Pagal’ on her forehead following orders from Bigg Boss to inscribe the word on the individual Gautam didn’t like.
Or witness her tantrum on Day Two when Thakare tried to move her away from the ‘Cheela v/s Poha’ stand-off in the kitchen (interesting that so many of the brawls occur in there and over food) to continue the argument elsewhere—OMG, was she angry.
To create disputes which very quickly descend into vile behaviour all around with one or two contestants acting as pacifiers, appears to be the primary purpose behind Bigg Boss. Again, this is similar to what happens on news debates. In both instances, the guiding principle is – fight for the sake of fighting. For example, one person doesn’t like the ‘tonality’ of the other and that’s enough to ignite the fire on Bigg B.
Beyond the fights in the ‘Bigg’ house
No sooner have the contestants entered the portals of the vast Bigg Boss premises, than they begin to squabble over the smallest things. Forget the Ukraine-Russia war, it’s World War III on the sets. Saw actors Shalin Bhanot, Gautam Vij, Priyanka Choudhary, Soundarya Sharma, Gautam, Nimrit Ahluwalia, Manya Singh and singer MC Stan, almost tearing out someone’s hair or tongue over trivial pursuits.
Of course, Bigg Boss always has some bonding and in this case, we already have two. The first is between Tajik singer 19-year-old Abdu Rozik and his translator/ventriloquist Sajid Khan, whose presence in the show has already created a controversy due to multiple allegations of sexual harassment by women from the Hindi film industry. So far, they have spent most of their time together—Sajid Khan making wisecracks and Abdu Rozik horsing around.
Then there is the ‘couple’ Ankit Gupta and Priyanka Choudhary, the lead stars of ‘Udaariyan’ TV show (Colors). Both deny anything romantic — ‘we are best of friends’ is their line but it’s early days right now.
This year, like every year, I am left wondering why actor-host Salman Khan lends himself to this spectacle — besides money of course — and why viewers watch it. Any ideas?
Watch young, talented singers instead
There is every reason to watch Indian Idol 13 (Sony) and all the other singing contest shows on TV, such as Sa Re Ga Ma Pa (Zee). They are pure joy, the joy of singing — and for us, of listening to young people who are so talented.
These shows are happy shows that lower your blood pressure that had risen, alarmingly, while watching the news about a possible air bomb carrying/hijacked Mahan Air flight over India (Monday) or one of the hot headed TV debates.
From judges Neha Kakkar, Vishal Dadlani and Himesh Reshammiya and host-prankster Aditya Narayan (who wears a dinner jacket with keds, if you please) to the 15 finalists — all of them are wreathed in smiles and goodwill. There is laughter too and the sight of actor Aruna Irani Mandakini dancing with abandon during the first few episodes of ‘Dream Debut’.
As for the finalists, “Arre, baap re! You are a bomb!” Neha Kakkar’s words to Rupam Bharnarhia sums up what you get to hear on Indian Idol. We can and will have our favourites but each one of them is so accomplished, “You are a threat to playback singers.”
The author tweets @shailajabajpai. Views are personal.
(Edited by Prashant)