iconimg Saturday, September 05, 2015

Poonam Saxena, Hindustan Times
October 12, 2012
This is a rhetorical question I have asked before too: how many people are interested in seeing a bunch of people lounging around a house aimlessly, squabbling and bickering with each other? The answer is, as always: many, many, many people. I guess that's why we're now on to Season 6 of Bigg Boss (Colors), which is being anchored by the one and only Salman Khan. The Dabangg star is reportedly charging more crores per episode than most people are likely to make in 20 years. He has his own slightly eccentric style of anchoring, which includes saying funny things which mean nothing/make no sense. But yes, they are funny. And Salman Khan is always entertaining to watch.

The Bigg Boss house too seems to have been designed by a slightly eccentric interior designer. Take the confession room. It has weird tubes twisting all over the place, making it look like a particularly bizarre spaceship. In the beginning, there was a higher level of talking parrot (a macaw?) in the room. But he seems to have disappeared.

This year's contestants fill all the usual slots, from TV soap stars (Urvashi Dholakia, Sayantani Ghosh, Aashka Goradia) to controversial contestants (Aseem Trivedi, the cartoonist who recently created a bit of a media storm) to the mandatory 'commoner' (Kashif Qureshi from Hyderabad) to yet another Bigg Boss fixture, the older, paternal-type figure (Navjot Singh Sidhu) and many others.

But this year, there's a twist which is hard to digest even by Bigg Boss's ambiguous standards. Among the show's contestants are a divorced couple, Delnaaz Irani and Rajeev Paul (both are television stars). Their separation, regret, unhappiness, possible reconciliation etc has been reduced to mere footage for the 24x7 cameras, which makes all the regret, unhappiness etc seem plastic and fake. Rajeev wants to get back with Delnaaz. But Delnaaz doesn't want to be with him. Navjot Singh Sidhu is playing the go-between. To have a real-life back story of a divorced couple being played out like this in a reality show is so manipulative that it just seems, well, really small and sad. Apart from the Rajeev-Delnaaz story, there are many other ongoing mini-stories. There's the no-one-can-stand-the-commoner Kashif story.

Or the who-will-do-the-jhadoo/ who-will-do-the-pochha/ who-will-cook-the-khana story. You can also watch the housemates quarrel over their rations: "Why are we wasting so much money on coffee? We need more poha! Why are we not ordering more papaya - I need it for my stomach." And so on. Or there's the scintillating sight of the housemates executing all the singularly pointless tasks given to them by Bigg Boss (to keep them occupied so that they don't die of boredom or bickering). There's always the let's-not-watch-this-show story too for viewers who are so inclined. But then, as I said in the beginning, there are enough people out there who want to watch a bunch of strangers hanging around a weird-looking-house. I guess it's like peeping into a zoo.