Shailesh Kapoor | Bigg Boss 7: The Coming-Of-Age Season

20 Dec,2013

By Shailesh Kapoor


Since its start in 2006, Bigg Boss has acquired cult status in certain sections of the Indian audience, driven by youth and the urban elite. In today’s age of paid news, the programme gets sizeable free publicity in mainstream media, and has been a runaway hit with the social media in the last 3-4 years.


Historically, Bigg Boss has not been a high-rating show, with the 3-TVR mark being considered a very good result. But there are many other factors that compensate for this, none less than the huge opportunity the programme offers for in-programme product placements and integrations. Colors has also invested well in the property over the last six seasons, upping the scale every time. The big leap, of course, was in Season 4, when they brought in Salman Khan as the host.


If Season 5, which started with Shakti Kapoor in the house with a dozen women, was the worst Bigg Boss season till date, the current season (7) is what I’d call the coming-of-age season for the Bigg Boss franchise. It may lack a pivot like Dolly Bindra or Imam Siddiqui, who can single-handedly deliver content, but it breaks new grounds, which may impact Indian television itself, not just Bigg Boss.


The biggest coming-of-age aspect in Bigg Boss 7 comes in the form of two very real love stories that have unfolded this season – Gauhar-Kushal and Tanisha-Armaan. In the past, Bigg Boss seasons have only hinted at romance, without much meat to chew. An episode in Season 1 ended with Aryan Vaid kissing Anupama Verma on her forehead. That, and a few massages apart, there hasn’t been much else in the name of love (or lust, for that matter) that registered.


But the public display of affection this season has been heart-warming. Some may argue that it’s done on purpose to garner mileage and propel careers, but as an avid viewer, I’d pass that off as baseless cynicism. When Kushal proposed to Gauhar on screen, rather spontaneously, and she accepted, it was for real. They lived like a couple thereafter, till Kushal’s eviction this week.


Armaan and Tanisha may not have formally announced their status, but it’s there for all to see. And the element of lust is apparent too, with rumours of their lovemaking in the house doing the rounds on social media. Both couples have also used the camera-free washroom rather brazenly at times. Full credit to the channel for telecasting at least some such portions.


For me, this is a far cry from the kid-glove handling of romance and man-woman relationships that we are used to seeing on our television. Bigg Boss 7 pushes the envelope, and in a smart way that doesn’t allow for any silly protests or moral policing. After all, who can object to consensual love? (Oh wait!)


In many of our serials, the hero and the heroine may well have been brother and sister, the way they maintain safe distance from each other, even in private moments. Perhaps Bigg Boss 7 will embolden the channels and producers to relook at what comes across, at least at times, as a playing-it-safe strategy.


Only time will tell if this season was a real trendsetter, or just a flash in the pan when the channel got lucky because real people fell in real ishq wala love on the show. But for those who complained that Bigg Boss was way too sanitized compared to Big Brother, we have now officially moved on.


Signs of a changing India?


Shailesh Kapoor is founder and CEO of media insights firm Ormax Media. He spent nine years in the television industry before turning entrepreneur. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at his Twitter handle @shaileshkapoor


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