Bigg Boss goes ‘alag’ with tours of ‘house’

15 Oct,2012

Manoj Gursahani of Bollywood Tourism and Deepak Dhar with Raj Nayak

By A Correspondent


The intention was made clear at the start when the channel pronounced that Bigg Boss would be slightly different in its avatar through the ‘Alag Chhe’. tagline. After getting it to be a show that can be watched by all in the family, Colors has taken a new step in getting the show a step closer with its audiences by flagging off the Bigg Boss Tour. The initiative would give fans an extraordinary experience of being close to the stars via a paid tour.


Beginning October 19, 2012, Bigg Boss fans will get to unravel all the live action direct from the house, experience the reality and magnitude of the production and the complex set-up besides other attractions associated with the format. As part of the opportunity, Colors has introduced special buses that are designed to simulate the Bigg Boss experience and give fans the ultimate ride from Mumbai to the Bigg Boss house at Lonavala. The project is managed by Bollywood Tourism for Colors and has been introduced keeping in mind the need to satiate the curiosity around Bigg Boss.


The paid tour will be operational every day of the week, except for Thursday till the season ends. The attractions will include a ‘House Tour’ via a secret passage and a look through a special viewing gallery that would allow one access to live action in the house; Hall of Fame, a spot where visitors can relive moments from their favourite seasons and have a look at iconic memorabilia of the most popular housemates; Control Room, the centre of all production activity and a view of the numerous cameras capturing every move; Confession Room, a room for viewers to get a chance to play Bigg Boss housemate and lastly a view of Salman’s Chalet, a place where the host unwinds during the shoot. The Friday tours will be a highlight as the visitors will get an opportunity to view the shoot of the eviction episode by host Salman Khan.


When asked about the novelty factor behind the idea and the need for such an initiative at this juncture, Colors CEO Raj Nayak said, “We decided to do such a thing with a show like Bigg Boss because the format allows us to do something like that. It’s one of the biggest and most expensive reality shows in this country today. Also it is one of the shows which has a cult following and is talked about a lot.”


And that’s not the only explanation. Mr Nayak added, “There is this whole feeling of the show being scripted, so we felt that there is an opportunity where we can bring viewers closer to the channel and that they came and witness for themselves that it is a non-scripted reality show. That’s what led us to get talking with our partner Endemol on the idea, which they readily latched on to. This was followed by the roping in of an experienced team that caters to tourism around Bollywood in Bollywood Toursim. So the three of us came together and recreated this new experience and we think it will fly.”


While the new initiative could be looked as an alternative for the channel to recover the huge costs involved around the show, that is not what its precise aim is. Asserted Mr Nayak, “We are not doing it for revenue at all. In fact I do not know whether we will make money at all out of this and I won’t be surprised if we even lose money. But that is not we are concerned about; we decided that if we cover our expenses great otherwise we will subsidise it. But going by the response I think we will be able to cover our expenses.” According to Nayak, the whole idea behind this venture is to give the viewers an opportunity to come and connect with the show at a reasonable price.


When asked how big a challenge it was in putting together an activity as big as the tour, Deepak Dhar, MD, Endemol India said, “The way the show has been designed it is one human observatory that’s running 24×7. To plug and play into the Bigg Boss psyche was not a challenge; it was an interesting idea that we lapped up. All the three of us then got together to see how we could work this across seamlessly to the extent that the format can allow and what it cannot allow.”


In fact the idea has already attracted the attention of Endemol’s other international teams who have taken note of the activity and are looking at the possibility of emulating it across other properties as well. Asserted Mr Dhar, “It’s just the start now; let’s see how it gets picked up later. There’s already a bookmark on how this can work as of now. But all said and done it’s an innovative thought, an idea that can be replicated to other properties as well.”


While the channel is hopeful of attracting huge ratings in the first week, what it is also excited about is the huge response that Bigg Boss is receiving from the advertisers. Affirmed Mr Nayak, “The advertisers have taken to our show very well. We have got five sponsors on board as of now. Vodafone has backed us again; we never had ‘powered by’ in the past seasons but this time we have Samsung who has come by in that slot. Coming next week, we will have two more sponsors on board so for me it’s a success even before the show is on air. As for the investments, we are spending much more this year so we would want to recover that proportionately.”


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