Sanjeev Kotnala: Bigg Boss hit by controversies, again

16 Oct,2019

By Sanjeev Kotnala


Controversies and Indian television, particularly about the reality shows are not new. Roadies, Splitsvilla, Emotional Atyachar, Bindass, SuperStud, Rakhi Ka Swayamver, Saach Ka Samana, had their fair share of objections.

There are some minor controversies like shows are scripted, there are fake injuries, fake health issues or even a phoney marriage. Then there have been some significant controversies like Shweta Tiwari bathing in ‘Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao’ and objection to the concept of Balika Vadhu.


Can’t Blame It On Formats.

There is pressure on cast, producer and channels to grab eyeballs for business interest. It does force them to experiment and go to the edge. It is a business requirement to engage and involve the audience in a very cut-throat environment.

It is natural for some of the content not finding acceptance with a section of audience and influencer bodies. Formats is a creative decision, and so is the edits. The channel has complete control of what is finally aired and made available to the viewers.

Bigg Boss 13 and the Recent Controversy.

Bigg Boss, through its history, has suffered many controversies. Seasons 13 is no different. In an attempt to further enhance the viewer experience, the channel has rightly experimented with the inner play between the contestants.

Bigg Boss was trying to implement too many changes at the same time. Polarised audience reaction was a natural outcome.

Finally, a section of the audience found it too much to accept and decided to seek a ban on the show. The diligently played the classic “Indian culture, traditions and vulgarity” card which gets major purchase in media.

The protesters may be right and do have a right to their opinion. After all, vulgarity, and influencing little minds is after all subjective.

Things are no longer straightforward. There is a petition to the President. The protest outside the host Salman Khan house has led to the strengthening of security for him. The Minister of Information & Broadcasting Minister has sought a report on the subject.

Surprised no one from the fraternity coming to help the channel. I don’t know when and where we will find solidiarity to deflect such attacks.


So, Why Protesters Want Bigg Boss 13 To Be Banned?

Now one of the contentions of a leading protester is sharing of bed. It has been provocatively termed ‘Bed Friend Forever’. Additionally, ‘Couples of different communities were made bed partners, which was unacceptable’. The latter part is debatable. Every contestant is an adult and knows their choices before entering the show. They are sharing a bed, not doing anything else. There are 93 cameras in the BiggBoss house. Why are we hell-bent on bringing communities, religion and regions in such issues? Are we all not Indian?

They claim Bigg Boss 13 is unfit for family viewing as it had some intimate scenes. Children and minors are watching television and have easy access to shows like Bigg Boss, where some content almost adult content. Moreover, such shows are available on the Internet too further easing the access. In the case of Bigg Boss13 the content ( including unseen footage) over Voot and Hello.

We must note that Bigg Boss 13 follows the guideline of a late telecast. In the ‘Weekend Ka Vaar’ telecast on Saturday and Sunday at 9 PM, the host along with the channel, intervene and do course correction. If we want to take any action, we may have to blanket a lot of such content.

Yet again, there are voices seeking censoring mechanism for content aired on television.

When there is no issue of availability, availability and affordability issue with any content, do we want to go back to the dark era of censorship? We must allow the audience to decide which of the shows cross the line.

Earlier Petition Against Bigg Boss 13.

Earlier too there have been petitions on Change.or claiming Bigg Boss is sending out the wrong message. It is abusive, mannerless, arrogant, vulgar and cheap in its aim to earn TRP.

That is the format. And when you place a set of people in such surrounding with different assignments and task to be accomplished to win the show, fights and argument are a natural outcome.

So, Are The Protesters All Wrong?

There is some validity in the protesters’ argument. Yes, there is a possibility that Bigg Boss may end-up impacting impressionable minds. The young viewers may start believing that it is okay to abuse, pass racist comments, make a vulgar gesture, and attack people personally. Moreover, they may think that it takes just a lame sorry to get back on the track.

If, we were so concerned about arrogance, being mannerless and abusive, well it is our task to show and teach why it is wrong. Alternatively, let us ban everything that is arrogant, mannerless, provocative on air.

Anyone finding the show not worth watching has the option of switching to the channels where relevant, scientific, culturally sound shows of their interest can be found.

Caution Advised.

In the current situation, it is in the best interest of the Industry and the channel, if makers of Bigg Boss 13 took some extra care in the edits that are aired or shared. I am not of the view of censoring, but some amount of self-regulation will do a lot of good to the formats.

Meanwhile, all I can pray, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry gives Bigg Boss, my favourite show a clean chit. In past when there were objections to ‘Balika Vadhu’ based on the concept of child marriages, a clean chit was given to the show.


At The End It Is All About The Way Your Glasses Are Coloured.

No show can have all the audience on its side. We all have our own biases and coloured glasses through which we see everything around us. The protesters may have a point when a show goes to the edge in its experimentation. On the other side, I continue to maintain that there is enough learning in the show if one is watching it from a different perspective.


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