By T S Sudhir
Just the day Pamela Anderson makes her entry into the Bigg Boss home, draped in a saree, that leaves little to imagination, the Information and Broadcasting ministry has shifted the `appointment time’ ahead by two hours. That is, 11 pm instead of the regular 9 pm. (Though strangely, `Bigg Boss’ was aired today at its usual time of 9 pm).
Not only that. Both `Bigg Boss’ and `Rakhi ka Insaaf’ are to carry a disclaimer saying `this programme is not suitable for children’ and news channels cannot show any part of these programmes.
I am not surprised. This was in a way coming. Particularly after an episode of `Rakhi ka insaaf’ ended in `death sentence’ for one of its participants. For those of you who don’t know, `Rakhi ka Insaaf’ is a show that claims to talks to couples about their marital problems with the intention of resolving their disputes.
Noble intentions, you might say but true to her style, aimed at the frontbenchers seeti maar kind of crowd, in one episode she went on to berate a 24-year-old youth called Laxman from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh who appeared on the show with his wife Anita who he had married this February.
On the show, an angry Rakhi called Laxman “namard” (impotent). Feeling extremely humiliated, he sank into deep depression, stopped eating and died.
A FIR under sections 504 (insult intended to promote breach of peace), 306 (abetment of suicide) and 120 (cheating) IPC was registered at a police station of Jhansi on the complaint of Laxman’s mother.
I saw yet another episode of this extremely disgusting show, where the kind of language Rakhi or the participants used was downright crass, crude and vulgar. Here a struggling actor claimed to have married a woman who denied she was ever married to him.
“Maine iske saath kissing kiya hai, sex kiya hai,” he shouted, as Rakhi with her crude gestures added tadka to this already spicy dal.
Whoever called television an idiot box obviously got it wrong. Because now it is a criminal. The channel in question did not think it necessary to beep out the offensive word. In reality TV today, bad is good and the worse it gets, the better.
Which is why the moment Bigg Boss’s TRPs were taking a beating in comparison with Big B’s Kaun Banega Crorepati, Dolly Bindra was brought in like a pinchhitter and she spiced it up from the moment she stepped in. And it worked. Ugly fights, expletives of the worst sort sprinkled liberally, renewed viewer interest in the reality show that with an assortment of insipid names, seemed to be going nowhere.
The I&B ministry in its order says “Bigg Boss is against good taste and decency. The participants are often shown quarrelling and using abusive language.’’ Regarding `Rakhi ka insaaf’, the order takes the item girl on, stating “the host uses vulgar and abusive language on the programme.’’ The inter-ministerial committee, constituted by the ministry in fact says “the role of the host of `Rakhi ka insaaf’ needs to be reviewed by the channel as the language, demeanour and conduct of the anchor is objectionable.’’
I would think the shift in timing is a step in the right direction. The few times I have watched `Bigg Boss’ I have found one has to reach out for the remote quite often to change the channel because one Ashmit Patel is upto something all the time with Veena Malik and Sara Khan. Stuff that is certainly not family viewing. And these days, even my daughter understands when I change the channel quickly. “Only for adults, Appa?” she remarks even as I squirm.
In fact, Rahul Bhatt, one of the contestants who got evicted a couple of weeks back from the Bigg Boss home, admits it is a good move and that the show is “vulgar’’.
But the likes of Pritish Nandy and Suhel Seth aren’t happy and have tweeted their displeasure at the shift in timings but hello, is this the kind of titillating television that they want India to watch at prime time. Blatantly adult fare, not just in terms of visuals but in terms of language.
It is populist to say the mandarins at Shastri Bhavan cannot decide who sees what, but when TRPs force the channels, including news channels to violate the laxman rekha of decorum, someone has to redraw the line.
Last week, post the `Rakhi ka Insaaf’ tragedy, `Big Boss’ host Salman Khan spent a considerable amount of time, trying to justify the various aspects of his show. The desperate attempt showed. The TRPs at 11 pm may see a dip but I wouldn’t be surprised if the adult quotient for an 11 pm airing is increased a few notches up now to commensurate for the losses.
The contestants in the Bigg Boss home have spent six weeks inside and have almost the same period to go. The insaaf may be late but it certainly hasn’t been blind or deaf.
You can also find T S Sudhir’s blogs at http://www.thesouthreports.com