What is it like to live in a house with cameras watching every move you make and Bigg Boss dictating what you can or cannot do? Find out
It’s seven in the morning, the EVP theme-park-turned-film city wears a rundown look. Construction pillars rise in front of faded buildings, and a muddy path leads us to our home for the next 24 hours. Blindfolded and stripped of mobile phones, books, watches, and “any sharp objects”, 14 of us are taken in batches into the Bigg Boss Studio. ‘Remember you will be watched 24×7’: the instruction is reiterated, the magnitude of which strikes hard when I lie down to take a nap a few hours later, and all the 12 cameras in the bedroom point at me accusingly. There is no escaping Bigg Boss’s eyes: even while brushing your teeth. Everything is recorded, and as it turns out, watched by a team, live. A recorder in a sling bag hangs across everyone’s shoulder, “catching the sound of breathing too”. Naturally, words are measured, a few swallowed, and smiles are faked. But as it’s said, everyone’s true colours show eventually. And they did.
Gossip piles up and masks fall off as the sun rises and sets. By night, the recorder feels like an extra limb. So in hushed tones, secrets are spilled, names taken, and swear words allowed their natural flow. There is no distraction whatsoever – no television, radio, books or newspaper – words are all we have. They get tossed and turned, sometimes evoking laughter, and sometimes guilt. Quickly followed by a part-nervous, part-amused “Oh my god, will this be aired? If it is, I can’t go back home.” But fortunately for us, it will not be aired. We are the last dummy contestants before the launch of the actual Big Boss.
The actual contestants will not be as fortunate. The whole world will watch them – fetching an extra bowl of popcorn, getting into heated arguments, misunderstandings and fights. Which are bound to happen if one is kept locked in a house for 100 days, and where everybody becomes everybody’s business. But when things get ugly, Bigg Boss intervenes, we are told.
The house includes a lawn with a pool, loungers and a gym. Inside, there is a kitchen, dining area, couch and two bedrooms with seven beds each. Next to the kitchen is the store room, which opens only to let in the food, change recorder batteries and provide medicines if in dire need. In the living room, a door that looks like a piece out of a science fiction movie set, opens into a compact room, which has nothing but a Game of Thrones – esque iron throne kind of seat, a camera and a speaker. Contestants are called in to have a private talk with the booming voice of Bigg Boss. Questions range from a simple “How are you feeling today?” to uncomfortable ones such as “Out of the group, if you had to eliminate two, who would they be and why?” Based on the nominations of the members, the least popular member is eliminated, and the rest continue as willing prisoners.
“That’s what we are, right? Prisoners,” says one of the group members. Outside, the lights have dimmed, and strips of bulbs outlining each bed come to life. “Probably,” I reply, even as all the cameras, as if on cue, rotate towards us.
“Would you do it for 100 days?” she asks. I look at the fantastic rose-wallpapers, the cushioned couch, the sparkling silver candlelight holders, the blue of the pool beside the carpet of plastic grass, and a small group in conversation, each one covering the recorder before cracking a joke, and I mildly nod negative.
Bigg Boss airs on Star Vijay at 8.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday and 9 pm from Monday to Friday.