I reached Lonavla at 4.30 am. After a patient wait in the "Training Room" for an hour, we were frisked and miked. After they 'miked us', they blindfolded us, again, for the drama. With a big handbag and overflowing duffel, I held on to some stranger's hand till a booming voice asked me to walk straight and remove my blindfold.
And there it was: the torture chamber I thought. But I liked what I saw: a garden, a swimming pool, a play area and one of the many cameras that follow you, like you'd follow a tennis ball in a match. Up ahead there was a spunky living room and a glass door-ed bedroom. The set indeed is very 'open' this time. No nook or cranny is beyond a camera's reach.
They have a common bedroom for boys and girls this time, with six double beds, one single and a locked elevated glasshouse, which looked like a punishment room. So where are they going to gossip this season, I thought to myself, since I saw no nook where contestants on the show could huddle and gossip.
In the next few minutes the house was swarming with journalists. As we introduced ourselves, we waited for the booming voice of Bigg Boss to give us a set of instructions that we were to follow. Then we had time to kill, so I thought why not go freshen up.
I led the way and brought back the first bad news: the locks in the washrooms don't work. Second, there are 4 cameras in the basin area, just outside the loo. To kill any scope for embarrassment we decided to yell out our plans to head to the washrooms, each time.
After a few hours of endless, aimless wait, we heard the voice, "Bigg Boss chahte hain...” One of us was called to the confession room and the girl came back with our first 'task' — community breakfast. I volunteered with my akoori (Parsi scrambled egg) making skills and we all got to work.
Almost everyone had a 'suggestion' on how to prepare it. Don't bother with the nagging, I told myself. Fireworks were waiting to happen any moment due to the unwanted comments or the sheer work-shirking attitude of people who neither cooked nor cleaned the dishes. A show like this doesn't have to be scripted at all, I realised.
It was against the rules of the house to plot nominations but a general chat about each member of the house is definitely allowed. Of course the chat was interesting, by the end of that all of us knew whom we had to nominate — to be kicked out of the house. It was the last contestant who came in late and spent most of her time sleeping.
So now with hunger satiated and boredom at its very peak we decided to catch a nap. We forgot the three basic rules of the Bigg Boss house — one: don't sleep during the daytime; two: converse strictly in Hindi; three: never take the sling mikes off.
The watchful many eyes of Bigg Boss were of course taking notes. The result: we were woken up with blaring sirens twice and we were saddled with task number two: choreographing an item number for the evening. We got a few warnings and did everything we possibly could to kill time: chat, gossip, play antakshari and sleep. Not having to do anything for a day was nearly driving us crazy.
In that lies the important cue of the show. May be, it's the boredom and desperation for something to do that pushes those poor reality stars to do all those crazy things or at least some of them. The cameras are no less a cause of stress, I made peace with them but continued to feel being stalked for the next two days.
The day ended with our collective choreography on the Bigg Boss theme track. Rather reluctantly I joined in. After all as long as you're in that house, you wouldn't want to routinely mess with the Bigg Boss.