Sanjeev Kotnala: Bigg Boss Season 11 – View from an overcritical fanatic

10 Jan,2018

By Sanjeev Kotnala


It has always been hard to defend my fierce loyalty to the reality show ‘Bigg Boss’; on Colors, one of the biggest reality shows on Indian television. Season 11 made it tougher. I visit the sets every year and like many others, I am sure to tune into Colors on January 14 night to catch the finale of Bigg Boss Season 11. I have rescheduled my Ahmedabad-Mumbai flight to Jan 14th morning so as not to miss the finale.

I have this unpleasant feeling that Shilpa Shinde will win the season.

I hated Hina Khan performance on the show. She is mean and plays hard. Mastermind Vikas Gupta has been a revelation. Puneesh Sharma the underdog has played his cards brilliantly. Aakash Dadlani the rouge element of the show is more irritating than entertaining, Anyone of them winning will be more acceptable than Shilpa Shinde.

I have not looked at the BARC data. I am reacting to impressions on Twitter, Facebook and talk in circle of loyalists who rae feeling betrayed.

Colors has done wonderfully well in amplifying the show with VOOT and MTV . The differential cuts have their own following. However, the interaction and engagement on TV seem to be losing its edge. Today, audiences believe the show is biased and scripted. They think the channel purposely edits episode to present unilateral redefined skewed impressions of chosen housemates. Unfortunately, perception is adulterated with reality. There definitely is a problem with the reality show if the audience thinks the winner is pre-decided.

Initially, Salman Khan was sleepwalking through the show. His carrot-and-stick act appreciated by the audience finally picked up towards the end. And then Bhai being Bhai, he was at the top of his act.

I am sure that the team of Colors have their own long list of misfires. ‘Sultani akhada’ and ‘Bouncing bull’ backfired. The over-hyped act of the celebrity commentators misfired. The fun quotient associated with celebrity interaction is best not mentioned. The overdose of film promotion was low most of the times. ‘Padosi aa rahe hai bajaane Baraha’ never peaked as a thought.

Last night, the reintroduction of Arshi Khan was a good move with an interesting task. However, she lacked the charge she showed as housemates, and the task seems to be going nowhere.

Bigg Boss appeals in its twist and turns, the difficult tasks, the strict adherence to command, the cut-throat competition for captaincy, the anxiety associated with the luxury budget and the fear of nomination. Something was missing.

It is not the first time housemates predicted Bigg Boss moves.. No surprise; BiggBoss failed to peak on the richer scale of entertainment. The time slot of 2230 hrs did the rest.

It’s not that there have not been any good moments. When Jhallad smiled, people who have been waiting for it to happen enjoyed the moment. When Shilpa wept under the table, and Vikas consoled her, Puneesh Sharma Bandgi Kalra romance, Arshi being complimented by Salman and her flirting with Hiten were few moments worth mentioning. Unfortunately, these were far and few.

The editing of the one-hour daily episodes focused on fights and arguments, leaving the ‘human goodness’ quotient under-represented. It bugged a large segment of the audience.

The research may suggest the majority of the audience watches BiggBoss for the scrappiness of noisy fights and purposive going nowhere romance, alliances and temporary romances. The usual refrain that the audience seeks voyeuristic pleasure from shows like BiggBoss, Splitsvilla, controversial The Jungle se mujhe bachao’ with Kashmira and Sweata Tiwari shots, Roadies etc. be content team will be best advised to use Intrinsic Research tools (unless already using it) to get their directional compass moving.

Nevertheless, the channel must be applauded for experimenting. In last two seasons, it has strayed from the proven candidate mix formula. It’s not an easy task to get a new twist to a widely known watched and predictable simple format. It got commoners to engage with the show. However, the crowd of 19 was too big to start with. The audience lost the chance to latch on to their favourite from the start. With hardly any wildcard, the excitement was surely missing.

To find their purple patch, attempt to re-use ‘best tasks’ from earlier seasons fizzled out. The audience was not interested in something stale. Lack of process creativity been a big drawback this season.

To start with, there was not much of secrecy around potential contestant. It did not help the show. I personally knew of three contestants coming to the show and many rumoured which were bang-on.

However, the show must go on.

I have always said Bigg Boss is a decent show worth watching for a demonstration of human social behaviour. And I still hold to that statement. Let me make my point.

In an hour one witnesses group formation and disintegration, wavering loyalties, biases, rumour management, election and nomination politics buzz, swaying opinions, loud retorts, silent killing and suggestive remarks.

Learn a lesson for the corporate jungle and personal life battle.

You are responsible for yourself, there are no long-term friends and enemies, ‘upperwala saab dekh raha hai’ and Watch what you say; your statements and actions can haunt you later.

Being silent is a sign mute acceptance and approval. Jaago re. There is no greater virtue than forgiveness. And if that comes with vengeance and purpose, so much better.

A range of friendship and vignettes of loyalties are under scanner. Friends, more than friends, just a friend, pagal friends, committed friend, friends with benefits, enemies’ enemy friend, friend’s enemy friend, flipping friends and week friends. What kind of friends do you have?

See the array of strategic choices for social or professional gathering. Decide what you want. Be aloof selectively, I am like this only, playing the celebrity and commoner differential card, the fire-maker, the quiet fire managers, the big brother, the cute sister, the pacifier, the loner, the extra social extrovert, to name a few.

On Jan 14t, we will have the winner but the show would have lost a bit of shine.

I know it is a successful global franchised model. Its Kannanda version is also a hit. The show without any tweak is anyway good for another 2-3 years for the Indian audience. However, being a progressive and proactive organisation, I presume Colors does not subscribe to the idea of ‘why repair what is broken’.

If the channel needs to make an undisputed winner out of this show, the team has a task before them to redefine contestant mix, a new twist, creatively challenging and innovative processes for nomination, captain and luxury budget days. The weekend format should be scrutinised and made more engaging and interesting. Nevertheless, I doubt if changing the host is even a consideration just like an experiment with multiple hosts. Salman Khan association and charm are strong programme property. Even, if we were to consider the possibility, the list is limited, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Nana Patekar, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Paresh Raval, MS Dhoni, Arnab Goswami and perhaps a surprise non-celebrity.

Possibly I will watch the next season, just to be proved wrong.


Sanjeev Kotnala is a senior management strategy consultant and trainer. The views here are personal



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