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Unlikely friendships on The Big Switch

The contestants, on the sets of The Big Switch, have struck unlikely friendships and share a warm camaraderie. Read on to know more.

tv Updated: Oct 28, 2009 19:52 IST
Nikhil Taneja

Abhishek Prasad, 22, is excited because he was recently presented with an opportunity to use a phone “which gets you anything you want!” “I could get food, refreshments, housekeeping, toiletry and so many more things by just pressing one button!” he says, awestruck. Just when you start wondering about this incredible new all-in-one phone, his self-confessed “partner-in-crime”, Sunny Sara, chips in to explain. “He is talking about room service,” he smiles. “He had never been to a hotel before, so he found the concept of room service fantastic.”

Sara, 28, who owns two Mumbai nightclubs, Squeeze and Red Light, has of course, been to the finest of five-star hotels across the world. But there are places he hadn’t been to either. “He hadn’t been to an Indian-style toilet,” Prasad laughs. Sara grins sheepishly, “I also hadn’t been around slums, much less stayed in one.”

It’s hardly been a week since Sara and Prasad were teamed up for UTV Bindass’ new reality show, The Big Switch, but on their set in the Koliwada slums in Andheri, they speak for each other, take ribs at each other, banter with each other, and seem to be thick friends since years, though a week ago, neither was aware of the other’s existence.

Poles apart, but similar
Today, not only are they helping each other survive on the show, they are also picking up personality traits from the other. “I like Sunny’s etiquettes and his confidence. He knows how and what to speak with whom,” says Prasad who has now learnt to say ‘Excuse me’, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Thank You’, “And English abuses too,” he laughs.

Sara, on the other hand, feels that he’d some day like to be as strong-headed as his teammate. “He has lived in slums all his life and daily interacted with kids who have gone wayward. He still doesn’t smoke, hasn’t ever got into a fight and is studying so he could one day provide for his family. That’s inspiring, man!”

Though the two appear to be poles apart, they do have things in common as well. Prasad has lived in Asia’s biggest slum dwelling, Dharavi, while Sara lives, not too far away, in an up-market three-bedroom apartment in Prabhadevi.

Like Sara, Prasad too likes “night-outs”, though while Sara may spend his night partying at his nightclub Red Light in Fort, Prasad spends it, not too far away, sitting with friends at Marine Drive, chatting away till dawn. Both have similar tastes as well – both are interested in the culinary business – while Sara once owned a café in a Mumbai suburb, Prasad is fond of “bakery” and proudly counts baking a black forest cake, which “could have been softer,” as one of his life’s achievements.

For the sake of friendship
The unlikely twosome is paired together in the show as the duo belongs to the two extreme ends of the socio-economic spectrum. Nine other such young pairs compete in the show, so an economically disadvantaged youngster gets Rs 10 lakh to fulfill his/her dream, while the “rich kid” has to go through menial tasks to help the partner.

Sara admits that while helping out slum kids was reason enough to participate in the show, he knew the show will get him a PR. “I initially came here more for the publicity I’ll get,” Sara says. “But trust me, I have done tasks on the show that I can’t imagine my house-help doing. And that’s because, when I spoke to Abhishek, I realised how much even a small amount of money means to him.” Just when you think Sara is being too earnest, he ribs Prasad good-naturedly, “But yes, sometimes when I see him sleeping while I’m working my a** off for him, I do feel like kicking him.”

Promises made
Prasad laughs and then, in the most cryptic sentences, takes the longest time to say how, whether he wins or loses, he has gained a lot by befriending Sara. Sara grins and explains, “He means that I’ll help him get a job in the restaurant business once he graduates.”

It is safe to assume that such promises would be made by all the financially well-off contestants to their partners, and if even a few keep their word post the show, that would be a real achievement, since, Prasad admits, “I can’t even afford a studio apartment with a 10 lakh cash prize. If I win, I’ll invest the money and one day, I’d like to have the lifestyle Sunny has.”