What do you think is the biggest problem now facing Tamil Nadu? a) Unstable political situation b) Declining industrial development c) Water and agrarian crisis d) Corruption in high places.
Going by the amount of newsprint and airwaves expended in the last few days, the answer to the question is the un-given option e) Bigg Boss.
To those who, probably on account of residing in Mars, don’t know what Bigg Boss is: It is a reality television show. It gets aired at 9 p.m. every night, and a bunch of people trapped in closed confines begin to talk in random clots, the subject of discussion is immaterial, they badmouth each other, they yell, they throw tantrums while others look on bemusedly, and there is an oracle of sorts that has the final word. Of course, this could also be the precise description of Arnab Goswami’s news show.
Bigg Boss is essentially a collection of controversy-creating cranks in a cramped room. It is the true Crank’s Corner, except they would probably spell it: Crank’s Cornerrr!
Never mind, Bigg Boss was the biggest talking point in Tamil Nadu all through the week as police complaints were filed against the show and its host Kamal Haasan, and TV news studios were filled with acerbic debates, making you wonder if they were murdering people inside the Bigg Boss house, which would not be a bad thing actually. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind a show in which they kill off the contestants one by one, and the participants are those who regularly turn up in TV news discussion shows.
Bigg Boss’ voice: And this week the one who we will be eliminated is — *pregnant pause as the tension builds up* — Suhail Seth.
(There is clapping and whistles of unconcealed happiness from people every where including in Alaska, as Suhail Seth is taken to the electric chair room)
(And the next week they decide to eliminate — drum roll — Subramanian Swamy).
Getting back to the Bigg Boss show, a lot of people in the State are finding their sensibilities offended by it, and in the great traditions of this great State, they have chosen to not watch the show any more. They have also stopped talking about the show as it would give needless publicity to something they feel is cheap and crass. The show organisers, also understanding the backlash, and are quickly dropping the whole thing and instead are planning to air an elaborate series on how to conserve water and what alternate crops to focus on when there is drought, while the public will stay awake late into the night to closely follow the show so that they can implement what the experts advise.
Ha. Ha. Ha. That would be sensible. But there is no fun in it. People as usual have gone way over the top. They want the show stopped. They want the channel to apologise. They also want Kamal Haasan, who hosts the show, to be arrested. And most importantly, the public who felt offended by the show, continue to watch the show and continue to feel offended every single time.
Coming to this tendency to call for stopping a show just because it doesn’t appeal to some sections, it baffles me totally. Because things in real-life situations that most of us are part of don’t work this way. For instance, if I don’t relish pista-flavoured icecream, and when I go to a function where they happen to serve pista-flavoured icecream at dinner, I simply don’t partake of it. Nobody really bothers that I don’t like the icecream served. I too don’t call the police to file a case against the function organisers for serving pista-flavoured icecream that evidently hurts my taste. Nor do I call for the arrest of the couple at whose wedding the pista-flavoured icecream was served. If I don’t like pista-flavoured icecream I have to deal with it. Bigg Boss is this State’s pista-flavoured icecream now.
Elsewhere, thanks to all this non-stop protests, I presume, this is what must have happened at the said channel’s office:
Office staff: Sir, I have good news and bad news
Channel head: Tell me the good news first.
Office staff: An outfit has filed a police complaint against our show Bigg Boss.
Channel head: What is the bad news?
Office staff: Only one outfit has filed such a complaint.
Channel head: (Turning to the programming team, and in a stern voice): Are we running Vazhalum Vazhvum or what? Better come up with stuff that will have more people protesting. Next time, it should be strong enough for the police to register an FIR itself. Did you get it?
As usual, am I exaggerating? No, not at all. I am pretty sure that this is how TV channels operate for the most part.
Meanwhile, Kamal Haasan, the show host, himself met the media and answered all questions thrown at him on, well, Rajni’s entry into politics. Seriously, we in the media asked Kamal about his view on the performance of the party that Rajni has technically not even launched.
The late night press conference was more interesting than anything that Bigg Boss has served so far because we also queried him on: GST, arrest of Malayalam actor Dileep, the performance of the Modi government, the performance of the Edappadi government and the Pythagoras theorem.
Okay, we did not ask the last one mostly because Kamal ended the press conference as the clock was just minutes away from striking 9 p.m., which of course is when the Bigg Boss telecast begins. He made way so that people could feel offended in peace.