Several friends and family members of mine asked me not to watch the controversial reality show ‘Bigg Boss, saying that the format is not something I will enjoy. Still, out of curiosity and the presence of memes online, I watched Malayalam ‘Bigg Boss’ season 1 and binge-watched few episodes of Hindi ‘Big Boss.’ Notably seasons 7, 11, 12, and 13.
It was fun at times to watch the show. When contestants engage in fun banter, partake in tasks and other instances. Sometimes, the silly in-house fights make one laugh.
I watched ‘BB 14’ for two reasons:
1. I work in a news media portal and wanted to cover tidbits that might be in the show.
2. I wanted a source of entertainment during the lockdown time.
Watching ‘Bigg Boss 14’ during a tough period like the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown was undoubtedly the worst mistake I have made during that time. This is the first time contestant I rooted for from the beginning won the show. Still, I switched off and uninstalled Voot long before that because it was messing up my mental health.
It was very difficult to watch the WeekendKaVaar episodes where Salman Khan showed massive bias towards certain contestants despite their wrongdoings. He excused Eijaz Khan’s toxic behavior towards women multiple times despite complaints from Jasmin Bhasin, Kavita Kaushik, and Rubina Dilaik. Jasmin mentioned how Eijaz comes close to her face but Khan’s advice was “just move away when he comes close.” He didn’t ask Eijaz to downplay his anger. Khan used to spend ample time to ‘correct’ who did wrong to Eijaz.
At the same time, he had ‘bashed’ Rubina Dilaik over silly negligible reasons like showing her pinky, not stopping an angry Jasmin from throwing water on Rahul, sitting next to women who were bullying Rakhi Sawant, protesting against Eijaz for hitting her hand, etc.
Rakhi Sawant, also a visible favorite of Khan’s, tore off Rahul Mahajan’s dhoti. She was seen harassing Abhinav Shukla even when he asked her not to. She pulled Abhinav Shukla’s trouser drawstrings and colors conveniently used a screenshot of that on social media. But Khan declared her as the biggest entertainer of the house before a tearful Abhinav. Khan told both Abhinav and Rubina that the audience “thinks that they are going wrong.” Plenty of their family and friends called it the worst episode ever aired on TV.
In another episode, Khan and contestant Jasmin Bhasin was seen blaming Abhinav for ‘letting’ the harassment happen. These episodes messed up my mental health so badly. I had insomnia. I felt both angry and sad at the level of bias exhibited by Khan in his treatment of contestants. Several days after the episode aired, I had morning anxiety, even when I was not thinking about the show.
Many can argue that ‘Bigg Boss’ might be scripted and the contestants know what they signed up for. Salman Khan himself is following what the makers want him to say and they themselves ‘bash’ popular contestants to get ratings for the show. One can argue that the contestants got their fat paychecks after their respective evictions. I was told that it was stupid and silly to let a reality show affect me to that degree.
But something about downplaying harassment that was shown on national television and gaslighting those at the receiving end of it hit me hard. I wrote a long blog piece on the day the episode aired.
‘BB 14’ also aired the live feed of the house. In the days following the controversial episode I had mentioned, Rubina was seen crying alone in the bedroom area. She is aware that no matter what, Khan will support Rakhi and bash her. Abhinav experienced dizziness and anxiety after a bad fight with Rakhi where she referred to him as ‘tharki.’ As expected, Khan cornered them both in the next WeekendKaVaar.
A recent Instagram post of last season’s winner Rubina Dilaik triggered some uncomfortable memories I had while watching the show. She mentioned how her husband Abhinav Shukla’s elimination affected her and that not calling out the unfair nature of his removal was her biggest regret.
View this post on Instagram
I stopped watching the show altogether after Abhinav was ejected by three celebrities who entered as family connections.
‘Bigg Boss’ was described as ‘Janata ka show’ yet the decision that was supposed to be taken by millions was lefts in the hands of three. Fans who followed the show from the beginning, including the live feed, expressed this.
Abhinav was someone who went from the bottom three to the top, as mentioned in the Ormax list. He was there in the show from the beginning and aced in several tasks. Abhinav was not someone I was rooting but his removal was nothing short of a betrayal.
‘Bigg Boss 14’ faced its share of criticisms when Sara Gurpal was ejected similarly by the seniors after just one week in the house. Contestants such as Nishant Malkani and Shehzad Deol were also removed. The show was criticized for bringing back ejected contestants including the ones voted out by the audience. Vikas Gupta re-entered twice after his exit. Abhinav’s removal from the show, two weeks before the finale points out that makers don’t really listen to criticisms. And the person who harassed him remained till the finale.
‘Bigg Boss’ OTT also started getting noticed for the favoritism shown towards Shamita Shetty and unfair bashing. Netizens stated that Karan Johar is no different from Khan in that regard.
My suggestion is pretty simple. Reality shows like ‘BB’ will go on as long as they receive that specific audience who enjoys such contests (disregarding the morality aspect) and fans of the contestants. It is better to avoid the show altogether if you feel like it’s weighing you down.
No point in letting the cacophony of noises distort your day. Since the host is seen embracing gaslighting as a quality while dealing with contestants, it can affect you. So better not to feed your time to it.