It was some time in the early hours of Thursday morning. I was grooving to Desi Girl in my pajamas while cradling a pink-lipped baby doll. Cheering me on were 13 others armed with various contraptions like a bow and arrow, a broom, a blanket, a toy guitar, a pooja thaali, a wig, a flower garland , a sword and crown, a cricket bat, an inflated duck and a three-wheel scooter.
No, this wasn’t out of a bizarre costume drama rehearsal, just a task assigned to us by an anonymous ‘Voice’ who goes by the sobriquet of ‘Bigg Boss.’
Fourteen journalists. Twenty four hours. One 4,500 sq ft house. 40 cameras. No escape. I was back at the Bigg Boss house in Lonavala, getting a taste of what lay in wait for the 14 celebrity contestants to be isolated here for 84 days at a stretch.
|A blindfolded Tasneem (in cream tunic) is led by a crew member into the set of the Bigg Boss house in Lonavala at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.||Blindfold removed and with a beaming smile, she enters the house to cries of ‘Welcome!’ from other contestants. The smile is short-lived though.||A cursory tour reveals the restrooms aren’t common this time around. Can you imagine Rahul Mahajan scrubbing this pink all-girls bathroom?|
Twenty hours sufficed to realise how disturbingly entertaining this could get. Metaphorical swords replaced pens and mikes, imaginary battle lines were drawn and blatant alliances were formed. Between all of this, 14 journalists were made to dance to the tunes of that ominously placid ‘Voice.’ The result was 24 hours of high-voltage song, dance and melodrama as 40 cameras and 14 mikes recorded every move, swivel, whisper, taunt, quirk, and pimple.
|Tasneem approves of the uber cool, swanky makeover of the Bigg Boss house. The only problem is there’s no privacy anywhere.||At first, the housemates are one big, happy family, singing songs and getting to know one another. Everyone looks deceptively friendly.|
A self-confessed Sambhavna Seth lookalike enthusiastically welcomed each of us into the house, breaking into a filmi dance at every opportune moment. Another contestant mimicked Rahul Mahajan’s inimitable laugh to hilarious perfection.
The chic interiors replete with inventive wall art, neon lighting, funky colour themes and quirky artefacts were approved. Collective sighs of relief were breathed for the separate restrooms for men and women. Dismay was expressed at the house’s shrunken size, jokingly attributed to recession. Only later was it revealed to be a clever ploy to get 14 strangers in each other’s faces.
|Each of the 14 housemates are shaken out of their dazed stupor as they are made to dance to the assigned group song Dhan te nan.|
|TV reporters share a laugh after a print journalist is eliminated. In the ‘media war’, the battle lines were drawn between print and TV journalists.|
With the threat of elimination looming large, the air was thick with unspoken hints. Messages were communicated by way of songs like ‘Kahin pe nigahen, kahin pe ishaara. (A glance somewhere, a sign somewhere else).”
We print scribes knew we were outnumbered nine to five and unsurprisingly, two from our group were nominated with equal votes. A quick toss later, one of our number left us forever. The claws were finally sharpened and let out. Those of the written word gathered on the lawn, doing what only can be accurately described as “bitching” and discussing the nominations in great detail.Fortunately, we left the house before any of us could be imprisoned for our crime. Unfortunately, whatever happens in the Bigg Boss house never stays in the Bigg Boss house.
|Tasneem is overcome by giggles as she ex-changes glances with a housemate. Even at night, her glee is captured by one of the 40 cameras.||Lack of sleep, boredom and a delayed breakfast catch up with the housemates. Tasneem tries napping, but her attempt is thwarted when...||... the hit song Desi Girl blasts away at top volume and she’s forced to groove with her baby doll prop in her pajamas (as her task demands).|