Thriving on voyeurism

Telly Review

Guilty Addiction : Salman Khan is the host of ‘Bigg Boss 4’.

Garnish this with an ‘in-house wedding’ and an international hottie, and what you get? You have Bigg Boss 4, currently being aired on Colors channel, hosted by Bollywood’s enfant terrible, Salman Khan.

One wonders what it reflects upon our television-watching populace that a ‘reality’ show thriving on all of the above garners one of the highest TRP ratings. Which is why, even someone like me, who abhors reality shows and all they stand for, decided to watch the show for two weeks, to find out if there’s something I was missing all along.

Now, this is what I’ve found — you create a three-month long time-warp for a dozen assorted celebrities with some claim to fame or infamy; throw them together into ‘the house of the Bigg Boss’ without any means to contact things such as a telephone, television or internet. Then you put them under the microscope, so to speak, recording randomly timed observations on their day-to-day lives via closed circuit cameras.

And now that you’ve let them loose onto each other, you let nature take its course and demonstrate the law of survival of the fittest. Sooner or later the strain of existing in a vacuum with ill-assorted strangers begins to take its toll on the nerves of the ‘inmates’.

Normally sane human beings start demonstrating behavioural aberrations. And into this melting pot of bubbling human psyches and passions, you occasionally stir in explosive ingredients such as wild card entries, tasks allotted by the omniscient Bigg Boss, and of course, eviction of one person by (un)popular vote every weekend, with the final survivor emerging as the winner to claim fabulous prizes!

Small wonder then, that all the tenets of jungle law come into play in this grotesque version of Agatha Christie’s famous whodunit And Then There Were None, to be pitifully exposed to the ghoulish enjoyment of the channel’s viewers.

This season the show has reality show veteran Shweta Tiwari; some shock value contestants such as erstwhile dacoit Seema Parihar and former thief Davinder Singh (Bunty Chor); and some from Pakistan (Ali Salim aka Begum Nawazish Ali and rakos model Veena Malik), apparently just to stir up additional publicity via controversy with Shiv Sena.

In addition, the last few weeks have witnessed TRP boosters galore — the entry of placid and good-natured WWE sensation, the Great Khali, followed by firebrand wild card Dolly Bindra, whose business it apparently is to stir up as many people as possible in the most offensive manner imaginable.

The most recent gimmick has been the highly controversial (and allegedly scripted) wedding of Sara Khan with Ali Merchant. The couple who was supposed to have broken up recently, apparently patched things up when Ali followed Sara on the show, and got married on November 10 (for the fabulous amount of Rs 35 to 40 lakh, say unkind persons). To top it all there is the three-day stint of international hottie, Baywatch star Pamela Anderson at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore!

And then, of course, there is the ongoing subtext of spats, backstabbing and general nastiness, not to mention the X-rated antics of Ashmit Patel and Veena Malik. The fact remains, however, that whatever be the motivation behind the behaviour of the various participants, the end product is some ugly insights into the seamy side of human nature.

Perhaps what the viewers, avidly glued to their TV sets, watching these distasteful antics of their fellow human beings don’t realise is that they are in the grip of a deadly virus that is devouring all sense of common decency and rectitude, spawning in its wake legions of voyeurs who thrive on vicarious thrills!

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