At the movies

`Bigg Boss’ Telugu season starts, despite controversy

Unlike `Bigg Boss’ in Hindi or even Tamil, the hosts of `Bigg Boss’ in Telugu keep changing every year. It was NTR in the maiden season, Nani in the second and this year, Akkineni Nagarjuna is hosting the show. So obviously the makers of the reality show would have expected the focus to be on the star host, his forthcoming flick `Manmathudu 2′ and the 15 contestants. `Bigg Boss’ season 3 however, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

A Telugu news media journalist and an actor have accused four members of the `Bigg Boss’ production team of sexual harassment, alleging they asked inappropriate questions when they were being screened for being a possible contestant on the show around March this year (see video).

In the last week or so, the two have travelled from Hyderabad to New Delhi, sat on a dharna at Jantar Mantar, appealed to both the National Women’s Commission as well as the Minister of State for Home, Kishan Reddy, spoken to every media house in Hyderabad and garnered support from Osmania University students who protested outside Nagarjuna’s residence in Hyderabad. 

A PIL has also been filed in the High court on the issue but the judges have directed the police not to make any arrests in the case. The demand of those backing the two women was to stop the show from being aired but that only seemed to have worked positively for the show. If social media trends are any yardstick, the inaugural episode on Sunday evening witnessed a huge surge in eyeballs and if that translates into high TRPs for the Telugu TV channel, you know exactly who would be laughing all the way to the bank. 

Frankly, there is nothing positive to recommend about Bigg Boss as a show and a format. It is voyeuristic that caters to the baser human instinct, converting thousands of couch potatoes into peeping Toms, gaining a perverse pleasure in getting access to either ugly fights and confrontations or seedy overtures. In a nutshell, there is really nothing redeeming about the format that celebrates sheer wastage of time for three months and passes it off for resilience and test of character. The country won’t be richer or poorer by the telecast or non-telecast of the show. 

But to target Nagarjuna over the show is unfair. In his individual capacity, he has entered into an agreement with the production house and the TV channel to host the show. Wouldn’t it be unprofessional for him to back out on the basis of allegations against some members of the production company when a probe has not even taken place? The counter argument would be who would compensate him for the loss – both monetary and in terms of image – if the allegations are not substantiated or proven untrue. 

It is for the agencies – both the ICC and the police – to probe the matter. There are some including those who have been a contestant in previous seasons who have raised doubts about the nature of the allegations. Some have pointed out that by their allegations, the duo has shown the 15 inmates on the show in a poor light. 

At the end of the day, the format of the `Bigg Boss’ reality show – language no bar – is such that it thrives on controversy. And something tells me those concerned with how the show fares in terms of revenue won’t mind what’s happening outside the Bigg Boss house, one bit.

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