Bigg Boss and beyond

The DNA of middle class India has changed. And it now supports hate, anger and superficiality besides following the age old Indian traditions of being racist, homophobic and being easily divisible by lines of region, language or religion.

One sees it not just in the tremendous rise of Hindutava forces in the last two decades but also in the equivalent rise in apathy and violence against the minorities especially the Muslims.

One sees it in not just the attitude of the majority towards anyone who opposes their idea be it intellectuals, writers or even current opposition members but also in the way the visionaries of a free and modern India, Gandhi, Nehru, Manmohan Singh, Narsimha Rao are berated. Being Gandhian or following Nehru is to be boorish and unworthy for many Indians. Gandhi is only good for trade and perhaps that too for not much time more!

One sees it in not just the way artists and their art is abused time and again with the latest fascist right wing Sena emerging to issue their death threats but also in the support provided to such elements by all and sundry in the name of protecting their superficial honor. Go to any social media channel or what’s app group and more than these Senas, it is the ordinary commoners who behave as Sainiks or warriors and forward crass and hateful messages in the sham of protecting their now-in-danger identity.

No, I am not talking about Indian leaders for they emerge from the crowd itself.

I am talking about Indians themselves and what they have become. And how!

Look no further. The reality television speaks the language of the mob.

Yes, I am talking about the very popular Television serial ‘Bigg Boss’ whose eleventh season just ended on an Indian channel. Not just was it popular in India but also among desis worldwide who look for their daily dose of entertainment to Indian TV channels. This year, I too decided to watch the season with a view to get entertained and keep my connect with the new India. I expected humor, entertainment, camaraderie and hope especially as most participants appeared to have come from educated, middle class or rich families.

But what I saw were nineteen contestants, most of whom were masters in abusing, humiliating, cursing and highlighting the crassest values that a society can display. They were constantly scheming against each other, fighting and raising voices over non-issues or issues built-up to create a scene and showing how low a person can get to go higher in the show.

True the format of the show and the way it was designed was to ensure that human bonds were tested and that reasons to discuss weaknesses of others were created. Yet what one saw were ordinary people turning into mental retards devoid of any humane values.

There were a few sane people but all but one of them fell on the way as the worst abused their way to glory.

Alas the show ended when the only decent contestant also failed to make his place among the top two. This man, who was ill-treated by most, especially the winner for his intelligence, open mind and perceived sexual preference, who faced all kinds of undue hate and abuse at all stages and yet tried to conquer it with his love and kindness, who always stood for true friendship and bonhomie, was a deserted and defeated man in the end, not just by the fellow contestants but by the people of India.

The ladies who were the among the top two were the ones who displayed the highest level of homophobia, racism, super bloated egos, scheming and plotting to create rift among others, acts full of deceit and lies and the worst trait of all, total lack of human empathy.

It was an addictive show as you get involved with the emotions of the people and saw your own victory or defeat in the very character you most identified with. For me it was painful to see how the good got defeated at the hands of evil in today’s India.

This I believe was one of the most successful seasons of the show in India!

I now understand that the makers actually picked up most of the people who could be controversial or abusive in order to generate constant fights and higher ratings for their show. Never mind the effect it would have on the viewers and what personalities they would imitate in their daily lives there after.

But what bothers me is the support the top two got from the general public leading to their final victories. True these were TV celebrities in their own right before the start of this reality show. But what this means is that Indians are so much tuned to idol worship that they ignore the very characters of their idols and just go by their blind-love and belief in the image of their idol. It is as if the ‘reel’ image of these characters stays more permanently glued in the minds of the crowd than their ‘real’ character.

My sojourn with reality Indian Television is finished and done with. And it is definitely not a happy ending to see abuse, homophobia and hate being celebrated not just by the channel but by middle class India.

Perhaps it is just a phase in the history of the nation which is going through churning and making a hero even out of a Godse. Hopefully this will end and Indians will realize that love and understanding is most important and that there are inherent virtues in treating fellow humans as humans while turning a blind eye to their race, region, religion or sexual preference.

Oh yes, that one contestant who did show me how marvellous a true Indian can be, Vikas Gupta, hats off and your journey will inspire many to be a better person in all stages of their lives.

It is the good people like Vikas who keep the world going! Cheers Vikas and keep walking!

Posted in Times of India on 15th January 2018. Link below-



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