There’s going to be another Big B in Bigg Boss: Amitabh Bachchan returns to the small screen after four years, as the host of the controversial reality show. Or rather, as Colors – the channel on which Bigg Boss appears – maintains, he returns more as a ‘pop philosopher’ than a host or anchor.
“Naturally, I’m excited, and a little apprehensive too as to how the show will be received,” says Bachchan, whose last TV outing was on Star Plus in Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) Dwitiya in 2005. A sudden illness meant that KBC II was equally suddenly pulled off the air, leaving Bachchan with a balance of 20-odd episodes that he still owed Star Plus. To do Bigg Boss, Bachchan had to extricate himself from that contract. “The issue has been amicably settled,’ he says shortly.
Getting the Big B is a big deal for Colors CEO Rajesh Kamat. The Indian version of the international hit Big Brother, Bigg Boss was part of the Colors arsenal – along with other big-ticket shows like Khatron Ke Khiladi and soaps like Balika Vadhu -- when it took on market leader Star Plus last year. Kamat claims that Bigg Boss played an important role in finally pushing Colors to the No. 1 slot in April this year. But though the channel made it to the top slot, its newfound leadership has been constantly challenged. The battle for No. 1 still rages, with Star Plus providing tough competition to Colors.
In an aggressive bid to up the stakes, Colors now wants to take Bigg Boss to the “next level” by getting none other than Amitabh Bachchan to be part of the show. Bachchan says he agreed because he was “intrigued’ by the concept. “Why do people behave the way they do?” he asks, referring to the housemates who fight, squabble and bitch their way through their weeks of incarceration. By acting as a guru-like figure who will decode the emotions in the Bigg Boss house and offer philosophical advice, Bachchan hopes to set himself apart from -- and much above -- the housemates.
He is aware that in its last season on Colors, Bigg Boss was mired in controversy (mostly because of the behaviour of housemates like Rahul Mahajan). The show has also been attacked for being voyeuristic and trivial. “Well, a lot of people felt that KBC was encouraging people to gamble,” says Bachchan. “But it was not a frivolous show.”
Whether the famed Bachchan gravitas will fit into a masala show like Bigg Boss is a question worthy of being asked on KBC itself. But more importantly, will Bachchan's presence help Colors establish itself as the unchallenged entertainment leader? As to that, here too, it is the viewers' votes that will clinch the deal.