I Like Bigg Boss and I Cannot Lie

Pop Culture

I Like Bigg Boss and I Cannot Lie

Illustration: Sushant Ahire/Arré

The events of the last few days have demonstrated, to use an overused but applicable phrase, is that we’re living George Orwell’s 1984 dream. A relentlessly curated pop-cultural landscape, where everything is under scrutiny, including jokes about GST in a film and the likes on your Facebook post – where everyone has a shtick to sell. In this carefully manicured version of our realities, Bigg Boss is shocking, bare-assed, and confusing. All of it usually before the first commercial break.

Bigg Boss is the culmination of our “Oh no they didn’t!” fantasy, and for the viewer IV’d to the show, it is simultaneously perverse and cathartic.

We don’t like to admit it but when the cameras are off and there is no 3G signal, we’ve all been there. In the same places that these hapless people – out-of-work stars and those hoping to be in their place one day – who come on our screens, year after year, only to be slagged off by the media.

We’ve all tried to verbally pants a dude who is trying for the same girl we like, but Raja Chaudhary did it to Rahul Mahajan. We’ve all had to take shit from fake-tanned and gymmed-up jocks of the Kushal Tandon variety, so we cheered deliriously when VJ Andy got him evicted to complete his side’s revenge of the nerds. We’ve all struggled through relationships, so we’ve pinned our hopes on Rochelle and Keith to see if they can make it in this twisted house of cards. We’ve probably never felt how it would be to try to woo your ex-wife on national TV – while trying to hit on a girl 15 years younger than her – like Rajeev Paul, but it’s nice to have that experience for reference.

Bigg Boss brings together the two biggest drivers of human drama in history, romance and conflict, and distils the spectacle to its raw authentic core.

This season has seen Shahid Afridi’s ex-girlfriend Arshi Khan wear night dresses throughout the day and hit on Kyunki Saas Bhi Bahu Thi fame (It’s been 20 years bro!) and very married Hiten Tejwani who has sort of been okay with her overtures. Housemates hate Arshi because she gets the attention, India loves her because #ArshiDGAF, and Hiten’s wife hates everyone, including her husband. It is high drama, all the time, every time.

Even Dhinchak Pooja has entered the house now, and is vacillating between her selfie-loving viral self and an actual human with feelings and shit, which is evident in every exchange she has on the show. She is struggling to stay “on brand” while simultaneously tying to show personal growth, which is a struggle for everyone with an online presence these days. Bigg Boss allows us to live out the fantasy of deciding to go “off brand”. Maybe, just maybe, Pooja might have something other than “Dhinchakness” up her sleeve, and that prospect is thrilling to the viewer.

Bigg Boss

This season has seen Shahid Afridi’s ex-girlfriend Arshi Khan hitting on Kyunki Saas Bhi Bahu Thi fame Hiten Tejwani.

Image Credit: Bigg Boss

Consider for a moment, the world we occupy. Where we say what we don’t mean, and we don’t mean what we say. What consequences might await you if you actually said what you wanted to? Bigg Boss captures the feeling of telling off a slacking co-worker in front of your boss. It shows you what being vulnerable in front of a stranger feels like. How edifying it is to fend off a bully with support from your friends. When small-time model Niketan Madhok stood up to big-time stylist Imam Siddique after months of abuse, we cheered because that was us right there, vulnerable and real.

But what if we all started getting real? What if I told this arsehole that thanking his mother on her “very happy birthday” on Facebook is a pathetic plea for attention? I won’t actually tell that dude to go fuck himself, but someone tonight in the Bigg Boss House will probably say that to another human. It’s voyeuristic, pleasurable, and emblematic of our acutely cultivated projections. It is the #ContemporarySocialExperience.

The most fulfilling moments on the show then, occur at the climactic engagement of pent-up angst with a “fuck this shit” realisation. Sometimes the climax is extremely literal, like Priyanka Jagga’s bladder last year. There’s an unadulterated cathartic kick when the veneer of our carefully crafted world is lifted even a tiny bit.

This is all Bigg Boss’s world. We’re just lucky to be floating by.