It had to happen. As reality shows got louder and louder, so did the criticism and outraged voices: Should Rakhi Ka Insaaf (Imagine) and Bigg Boss (Colors) be pushed to a late night slot when the only viewers likely to be awake are owls (adult owls, of course)? Or should such shows be taken off the air altogether?
It’s tough to be a fan of either show. Looking back now, the first season of Bigg Boss (on Sony) seems almost innocent in comparison. The housemates pottered around, doing their ‘tasks,’ bickering a bit, talking a lot, but mostly just hanging around lethargically in groups. Even then, Bigg Boss (or more accurately, the makers of the show, since Bigg Boss is of course not a person, just a disembodied voice that makes you want to giggle every time it booms out in the house) did their best to raise conflict levels by assigning tasks that would divide the housemates into warring factions. Otherwise, or so the thinking went, who would want to watch a show with no drama, no battles, no bitching? A show where everyone was living together peacefully would be like watching life in some sort of saintly ashram, wouldn’t it? About as exciting as watching paint dry.
The current season of Bigg Boss inducted petty criminals, controversial lawyers, reformed dacoits and then, the real WMD, a small-time actress called Dolly Bindra, who was so loud and foul-mouthed, she needed to rinse her mouth with antiseptic every time she opened it. Aaj Tak even did her the honour of devoting an entire show to her called Lady Ravan, where we were treated to the sight (and sound) of Dollyji laughing.
So Dollyji fought with everyone, and got evicted for disturbing the law-and-order situation in the house — but, according to rumours, might be coming right back to get the ratings going again (since she was apparently the TRP-catcher of the show).
In the middle of all this, the channel even got blonde-and-buxom Pamela Anderson on the show for a few days, in a bid to create further excitement. But watching Pamelaji chopping vegetables or dancing Bollywood-style to ‘Dhak dhak karne laga’ was not as exciting as the ‘scoop’ on a news channel (apparently the ‘videshi atithi,’ as Disembodied Voice called her, was not living in the house at all. Every night she would slip out and spend the night in a hotel and reappear in the morning, pretending as if she’d been in the house all night. Was this not fooling the viewers, the channel demanded indignantly).
At the end of the day, every TV channel wants ratings. And being tasteless, crass, unpleasant and negative brings controversy, creates buzz, which leads to curiosity, which leads to heightened viewership. That seems to be the formula. Maybe many people actually find watching Dollyji shrieking at everyone entertaining.
Perhaps there are some viewers who find Rakhi Sawant shouting at her audience and her ‘troubled’ guests on the show amusing viewing.
Maybe — just maybe, but I’m not betting on it — there’s someone out there who would enjoy watching something called Big Switch 2 on Bindass (participants switch parents, or so it seems). On this show, you get to see the edifying sight of teenagers wrecking bathrooms by smashing everything in sight/attempting to hit a ‘switched’ parent. So here’s my take. More than the ‘vulgarity’ and ‘obscenity’ (two people were caught in a clinch on Bigg Boss?! Oh gosh, where’s the moral police? Pramod Muthalik, come quickly), how about criticism on grounds of sheer tastelessness?