Bigg Boss 2: The coolest prison in town
The author shares experience of living in the famous Bigg Boss house for a day
I can vividly recall the unsettling feeling of being gazed upon by dozens of prying eyes, as I dazedly stepped out of the Bigg Boss house before Season 1 commenced. Some of us had been invited to spend a day at the house, to get a sense of the space and the impending programme. We didn’t know then that barely weeks later, in this same space, fortunes would be made, and notoriety earned. Some of the people became idols, some others the sort of people you didn’t want to be — or know. One name – Oviya – evokes enduring images of the first season. Oviya flirting with the camera guy. Oviya taking on Shakthi’s belligerence. Oviya giving Julie a mouthful. Oviya creating a viral song out of a native tongue twister. Unknown to her, of course, she had an army rallying for her cause. Few though really asked themselves why she came to be so likeable. She was fiercely original, sure, and admirably uninhibited. She was a good dancer, sure, and came with good looks. The real reason she was as likeable though, as I see it, is something else entirely. She was among the very few people who resisted the temptation to speak about people behind their back. What an elementary, yet beautiful trait. For people looking for opportunities to better themselves — the host, Kamal Haasan, believes this is an intended consequence of the show — this was the chief lesson from the first season. And now, after many months, huge swathes of the population will return to television. Meme production will multiply. Anonymous people will become celebrities. And you and I, viewers, will feel morally superior by resorting to snap judgments based on the footage shown to us.
Some of us from the media were again invited to spend a day in the new Bigg Boss house, a couple of days before the new set of 16 made their way in, last week. For many of us, there was a selfish reason for returning. Even if the whole experience of isolation for a day, while under constant surveillance, is rather unsettling, there’s a detoxing aspect to it that's quite appealing in this age of electronic addiction. We have learned that for at least one participant in Season 2, this is an important reason. Apart from the catharsis of being forced to dispense with contemporary pastimes, there was also the temptation of seeing how the Bigg Boss house had been reimagined.
Only, it turns out that there was no great reimagining. There’s one significant addition: A prison outside the main living area, beside the swimming pool. It’s interesting to see how it will be utilised. Some grim social experiments have shown that when assigned the roles of cop and prisoner, people get carried away by the imagined authority. Will Season 2 then get darker in a way we cannot conceive of yet?
Otherwise, there are multiple little changes, many of which Kamal Haasan took us through in the first episode. The living area has been remodelled, even if the new design doesn’t threaten to alter the behaviour of inmates significantly. ‘Aham TV’ — as Kamal Haasan calls it — has been shifted to the other side. The dining table is centred, and its size reduced, ostensibly to bring the group closer. Interestingly enough, it cannot accommodate all 16, which again must have been designed to create factions. There’s a new attached wash room for the pink room (the women’s room apparently), either by demand, or if by design, perhaps is intended to make the place more comfortable to live in. The colours and the lighting seem hospitable this time around. Yellow is a dominant colour, but unlike the last house, this doesn’t feel as gaudy or uncomfortably luminant. There’s also a wheel and polygon motif across the property, emblazoned on the walls. The wheel perhaps symbolises the whole machinery at work, but I’m not sure what the polygon is meant to represent. The new house, on the whole, feels a lot more comfortable to live in, and it’s rather curious, given that the whole point of this gamified totalitarianism is to discomfit and cause people to act and react.
Overall though, the experience, a second time, wasn’t as unnerving. I imagine it’s partly on account of familiarity with the conditions, and I suspect it will be the same for the contestants in Season 2, who will know what to expect. You’ll have contestants trying actively to avoid being Gayathri and Julie, and you may even have an Oviya impersonator or two. The first season was meant to introduce you to the idea. Hence the tagline, Odavum Mudiyadhu, Oliyavum Mudiyadhu. The second looks to build on the familiarity, and will be more about the contestants than the novelty of the idea. The new tagline, in keeping with that idea, is, Nallavar Yaar, Kettavar Yaar. In about three months, we will know.