Sanjeev Kotnala: Bigg Boss Season 10: What worked & What didn’t

18 Jan,2017

By Sanjeev Kotnal


Okay, now that I have done my annual pilgrimage to the Bigg Boss house at Lonavala for the third year, and we are in the final leg, it is time for me to reflect on the season. I have been an ardent and compulsive viewer of the show. I still harbour the dream of hitting the show as a contestant or a house visitor. May be, some day I will.


Last year, when at the Bigg Boss 9 finale, the channel promised Aam Aadmi a chance to participate in Bigg Boss10, it raised many questions. Has the channel taken an undue risk for rejuvenating the show? Will the audience that loved the format for its voyeuristic peep into discomfort of celebrities, now lap it with the same fervour? How will they be selected? It also gave rise to many hopes and doubts


By now, some of these have been answered. To start with, in its restricted blinkered sense, it was a mixed bag of semi-celebrities and ‘Aam Aadmi’. They were branded in a very ‘racist’ way. The Aam Aadmi was christened ‘Indiawaale’. The divide was apparent. Bigg Boss had sown the first seeds of dissonance, which will pay the dividend throughout the season.


The channel played safe. Real safe. The Aam Aadmi was really not the awam ka saksh, but people with idiosyncracies and past histories. They were clearly the one who could and would create the desired drama in the show. You cannot fault the channel for it. Moreover, the channel and the Bigg Boss always held the trump cards like wild card, eviction and tasks allowing it to control the participant mix as the show progresses.


It is true that you need a mix of divergent, polarised, extroverted, expressive, explicit, scheming and smart set of contestants when creating a show like Bigg Boss. Raj Nayak of Colors said so in his interview with Indian Express. He said: ‘We take the contestant basis, their personalities and the contribution they can make to the show. BiggBoss is a show on human psychology. Whatever happens in real life, happens in BiggBoss. The only difference is that unless you have different kinds of people, it won’t be reality.”


The early evictions of Aam Aadmi representatives like Priyanka, Navin, Swami Om, Akansha and Lokesh must have put doubts in the mind of channel controllers and viewers. The sudden injection of four non-aam aadmi into the show was a kneejerk reaction. The audience sensed and assumed for their valid reasons that the show has a possible bias and unstated support for the so-called minor celebrities.


Something inevitable happened, the unceremonious exit of Elena, Shail and Jason. Yeh audience hai, yeh saab kuch jaanti hai, show banaati hai toh barbaad bhi kar sakti hai. This is the audience. It knows everything, if it can create a show, it can also break the show.


The performance of Aam Aadmi and more so the non-performance of the mini-celebrities was apparent in every episode. The tide had to turn. The sequential eviction of Rahul and Gaurav showed audience was an answer to  real Aam Adami wishes.


It was at this stage. Aadm Aadmi graduated to be a full Bigg Boss participant, but the divide had been inked hard. The camps and the lines were drawn. No efforts by the BiggBoss and the star host of the weekend, could change it.


This season was no different than the rest. It was a bit higher on the decibel level and some record creating silly stupid acts of participants.


Love and strong friendship have been a constant factor at the Bigg Boss House. Season 10 was no different but remained a bit low in it. Nitibha exited the show without getting her answer from Manveer. Bani and Gaurav friendship was headed nowhere. Manu Punjabi and Monalisa are very tenuous as they walk into the last phase. Poor Rohan does not know what to make of the makeup Queen Lopamudra. If you have been watching the show, you will realise how interesting the evolution of relationships is.


No Indian drama can be without villains. Swami Onjee and Priyanka Jagga rewrote the definition. Swami Om would have made a record for the show of having been evicted or stepped out with regularity on Day 21, 48, 78 and 81. Priyanka Jagga first stay ended on Day 7 and the next which started on Day 42 just lasted until Day 69. Both were evicted without being nominated on ground of excessive bad behavior and attitude. Having them on the show was both, a source of fun and disgust.


People may see it as a failure of the channel show in selecting the participants. I doubt it. Such polarised, vocal, drama queen and kings have been in every season. They are needed. Meethey ka swaad janney keay liyeh khatta khana zaroori hai (To taste and appreciate sweetness you need to taste the sour). This time, they just crossed the undefined line. In reality, If you remove Priyanaka Jagga and Swami Om, Bigg Boss 10 has been very low in its drama quotient too. And may not get the same following. They were the surprise packet. You never know to what level could they go.


New meteorites took birth in the show. Manu and Manveer. Audience favourites are now celebrities in their own rights. One who could benefit a lot would be the Bhojpuri star, Monalisa ( Antara Biswas ) who found herself a miscast among the Mumbai mini-celebrities and has been riding the friendship wave to remain alive in the show. Lopamudra came across as a very sensible person though with her own quirks. Bani decided to be the pulsating stars. Nitibha was warming up to the game too late in the show, and her exit closed the chapter.

Truth is rarely has someone gained long-term from the show. However, the show does give a new boost and wide familiarity to the engaging participants. This year is anyway the first with aam aadmi.

The audience strongly sees Manu Punjabi and Manveer as the potential winner. Bani, audiences feel has an external support of channel and star host, as someone who could spoil Manu Manveer party. Lopamudra has been as deserving. Monalisa and Rohan are the two aberration, that the loyalist uses to demonstrate channel fair and just voting system. Whatever may be the doubts, the final five strongly reflect national choice.

Bani has been a let-down to her fans. A section of audience still doubts that the channel manipulates the vote count. They believe Bani has some kind of understanding and support. The rumours will be fueled if she becomes the final winner.

There is a huge time lag between what happens inside the house and when it is telecast. Today, with the news leaks in social media, it has taken away the mystery and charm of watching the daily telecast. The time lag is irritating. Ten years is too long a time for a reality show version to remain paralysed with its constraining format. It is something that channel, and the format owners need to rethink.

When, I started writing this column, Color’s app was launched. It was primarily positioned and promoted as the live voting device for another singing reality show. Today, audience is unsatisfied without instant gratification. They demand not only greater participation and control but also greater transparency in vote counting which anyway remained a state secret. I was thinking, what if the channel used it in Bigg Boss.

I was pleasantly surprised on that on Jan 14, when in an effort to extra boost the app downloads, Bigg Boss decided to go live on voting. A sensational moment in Indian reality show history was lost. The experience was bad. The live was just a question about ‘How many see a contestant to be in the final’.

The app did not work well. I have many loyalists sharing their disappointment. If the picture wall in the show was any indication, it showed a poor response, someone from the channel could have better managed it.

With such an experience, there is nothing wrong if the audience sincerely believe that LIVE was a farce, the in-show audience (like Jhalak) voted. Live to them in Bigg Boss would mean the changing bars as the votes come in. Possible!

If at all the channel was doing a large-scale test run for ‘Rising Star’ which is dependent on this disruption, then it did not go well. This is purely based on the experience of my friends, family and me. Large enough sample size for me.

As I write this column, it is 10 am on Sunday morning, and the app still shows Nitibha as a contestant nominated, where as she was evicted around 10 pm last night, which the show shot on Friday. The channel cannot afford to take such liberties. App = tool that is instant and updated.

The host holds the show. The host has a very Counsellor – teacher – friend and parent kind of relationship with the participants. BiggBoss has a history of good hosts. I found, Arshad Warsi and Amitab Bachchan to be a great host. Shilpa Shetty managed to keep the tempo. Only Sanju Baba and Farah were minor aberration at the edge of being classified failures.

Salman Khan is someone audiences love as the show host. There are moments where they do questions some of his antics and apparent bias in his addressing and supporting delegates. They even see it as channel interference. Salman finds appreciation for his more-than-vocal support for women dignity and his love for mother. He, in his own special way, continues to charm the audience over weekends.

Brand association and sponsor’s interface is a business reality. This time at Bigg Boss it crossed the line. Are we just milking the star cow before it becomes non-performing asset?

Tasks are an integral part of the show. They are interesting to watch. They are the fuel and the catalyst for the discussion and imbalance in the otherwise peaceful house. The show is being unimaginative and lacks innovation. Tasks have been repeated. Other than for the Iggolo and the Planet task, there was an utter lack of originality and newness. They need to InNoWait for the next season.

The tasks seemed repetitive and mismanaged. They became interesting and if I can use the word entertaining only because of the sad influence and highly irritating TRP garnering influence of the ‘Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karunga’ Swamiji.

Bigg Boss seems to be losing the command of the show. Or is it planned? The omnipresent Bigg Boss was impotent with participants challenging his authority. The discipline in the house found its own low. Participants did not think twice before taking a nap, found escape routes for every possibly conceived agenda and some of them used English as a dominant language. The participants gave no respect to Captain and hardly listened to the BiggBoss. This is a huge erosion to the concept and viewer expectation.

These issues cited may seem trivial, but to an ardent fan, they are upsetting and alienating. They want newness. They want real people and a real representation of life. They want right entertainment.

I hope and feel that Bigg Boss has few more seasons left in it to entertain us. And I am sure that the team at channel is aware that the TRP success is not the only yardstick of a reality show’s success and is deeply concerned about the real entertainment quotient.

Long live, Bigg Boss! Note, I am taking no calls between 9 and 11 pm on January 28, 2016. All said and done, one cannot miss the finale of Bigg Boss Season 10.

Sanjeev Kotnala is a senior marketing and media practitioner and consultant. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent those of


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