Success of Bigg Boss 11 is a Proof That We are Voyeurs

Salman Khan

The popular reality show, Bigg Boss had the 11th season finale a couple of days ago. Actor Shilpa Shinde emerged as the winner of this year’s edition. For those who steer away from the virtual world that is Indian Reality television, Bigg Boss, even in its eleventh season proved to be a success. Near its finale, the show was in the top ten shows in terms of TRP, for week 52, on Hindi entertainment channels.

Bigg Boss is a popular show, much to the dismay of the intellectual viewers of the Idiot Box

Bigg Boss, hosted by actor Salman Khan, is popular in both small towns and big cities. It is a yearly dose of guilty pleasure for viewers, who get to play peeping toms to the lives and struggles of a bunch of people, who are cut off from the outer world.

More like schadenfreude if you ask me, considering that the high TRPs are a result of seeing seclusion and lack of access to other modes of entertainment getting the best of people. The screaming, conniving, backstabbing might all be staged. Ditto for all the tears of frustration and separation from family. But since it is dressed up as a reality show, it gets to us. There are no scheming vamps, no opulent houses or designer sarees here. The participants do their own makeup and hair (or so we think).

Strip these small-time celebrities of all the pompousness that comes with daily soaps and page three parties, and what you are left with are real people, who are famous outside the walls of the Bigg Boss house, but helpless and ordinary inside it.

The trick is in the format

The format of the show brings out the common emotions of uncommon or mildly famous people. They are given tasks and duties to keep them occupied, and of course, cause more drama. Recently, the show resorted to bringing real-life controversies and enemies into close quarters, to up its ratings.

To be honest, it is indeed a challenge to live a life sans internet, mobile, television, etc. in this day and age.

Add to that the realisation that you are under constant scrutiny of viewers and your housemates. You have to clean their litter, cook for them and even ration out daily and monthly supplies. For someone who has spent all of her five years of college life as a hostler, this very possibility of watching people bicker over food and Rin ki Tikiya, and whose hair is choking the drain of the bathroom, was enough to change the channel.

Another USP of this format is that it does not let the equation between the house members remain static for long. The tasks are designed to put friendships to test and force enemies to cooperate. This makes sure that those who are friends today, would not wish to see each other’s face tomorrow.

So why do we keep watching a show, which is rumoured to be rigged or “improvised”?

Is it simply because we get to put people under the microscope and study their reactions to varying situations? Or is it more complicated than that?

For most people, it is a joy to watch these so-called celebs, who are used to living an entitled life of comfort and luxury, struggle to lead the life of commoners. We, humans, have a natural tendency to gawk at people who are in the midst of a public display of their private emotions. Be it love, hatred, anger, stress, panic or joy. We just cannot tear our eyes off of other people’s emotional nakedness. Especially if it is a celeb who has been put up on the display. It lifts our egos, to see them cry and fuss over menial issues.

Why Bigg Boss still works, is a question I ask myself every year, when my timeline drowns in posts and tweets about the show. But one thing is for sure, we as an audience love to have the boon of being the all-seeing eye.

(Picture Credit: hdnicewallpapers.com)

Also Read : Web Series are taking us where television won’t

Dr Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.