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Someone is watching you

In Bigg Boss, TV viewers get their first taste of an outrageously voyeuristic reality show, writes Poonam Saxena.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2006 14:16 IST

The first thing everyone wants to know is – has anyone slept with anyone yet on the show?” says Rajesh Kamath, managing director of Endemol, the company that produces Bigg Boss  for Sony That would certainly be a first for Indian television. But then, much of Bigg Boss is a first for Indian television.

An adaptation of the international hit, Big Brother, shown so far in over 70 countries, Bigg Boss is the next generation leap in desi reality shows, which have so far not ventured beyond talent contests.

But Bigg Boss has gone where no TV channel in India has gone before – 13 celebrities holed up in a house for 100 days with no contact with the outside world (no newspapers or magazines, no phones, no TV no radio, no watches, or clocks) and under 24-hour surveillance by 30 cameras. So what, you may well ask, is the big deal about a bunch of D-list celebs hanging out in a house with only each other for company?

Baap of daily soaps

Plenty For a start, these are grown-up men and women living and sleeping together in the same house. Which means sexual politics and personality clashes. Every week, each housemate nominates two other housemates for eviction and public voting decides which of the nominated people will get axed.

The last man (or woman) standing gets to win a prize of Rs 50 lakhs. Which means survival strategies, plotting and planning. As Arshad Warsi, the man who comes on the sets once a week to announce the name of the evicted person, says, "Yeh daily soaps ka baap hai!"

Which also means that Sony took its time to give the go-ahead for the show. The format of the show is the property of Endemol, a Dutch company which creates TV shows and offers them to broadcasters across the world. The company has a presence in 24 countries – India is the 24th – and Endemol opened shop here in January this year.

Says Rajesh Kamath, "It took several months to con- vince Sony that the show would work.” According to Albert Almeida, executive vice-president and business head of Sony, "Eventually the magic of the format clinched it for us. You make an environment where you create human interaction between different personalities. It’s a reality soap." To minimise the risk, the channel decided to go for celebri- ties instead of ordinary people.