What is it that makes India’s number one show- Big Boss, so addictive? Is it the drama, our inherent fixation with gossip, insight into raw human behavior, or a combination of all?

Every year for three months, Big Boss becomes the daily fix of a majority of television watching Indians. Even though many people may dismiss that they watch Bigg Boss, but the truth is it’s not just the homemakers who follow the reality show. Steaming from the original Dutch TV series called Big Brother, Big Boss today has 54 franchises around the world. In India itself, it runs in Hindi, Bangla, Tamil, Telegu, and Kannada. Inspired from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), the show’s concept is such has contestants (a mix of celebrities and commoners) who live together in a lavish house under constant surveillance. Each week contestants are voted out until only the winner remains.

The snippets from the daily life of the participants, laced with verbal fights, name calling, tasks, and petty politics are served to the audience every day for 1 hour. It may sound uninteresting, but once you start watching you’ll develop a keen interest in it. Soon you’ll root for your favorite contestant, bask in the glory of their win, and faithfully wait each day for the clock to strike 10:30 p.m. Before I started watching the show like everyone else I would dismiss its loud theatrics as crass and dumb, but now that I’m a regular viewer I can say that it’s not actually stupid. Instead, it’s the best means to study human behaviour.  In fact, I suggest psychology students and those studying human behavior must watch it and observe the constantly changing equations on the show, power dynamics, and outbursts.

Despite some of the predictable aspects like a token foreigner, blossoming romance between two people, the troublemaker, and weekly presence of show’s host Salman Khan and his cockiness, the reality show remains fresh and interesting. With a serious academic viewpoint, we can critique Big Boss on accounts of lacking inclusivity, we can compare the mass surveillance inside the house to the world outside, and we can talk about the invisibility of caste amongst the contestants, the rampant bullying, homophobia and sexism that revolves around participants. However, I hope by watching the worse in people, we, as viewers can learn otherwise.

It’s a different fun altogether to see people fight, cry, clean washroom floor and go about their monotonous (often not so monotonous) day. Like the kings had hunting trips, the Spanish had bullfights, we, empowered with the all-seeing cameras, have our guilty and sadistic entertainment- Big Boss.

With a scrumptious mix of circus and game of chess, it looks like the intrigue of Big Boss is here to stay. You should give it try sometime.

Image Credits: Colors TV


Niharika Dabral

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