The reality show, Bigg Boss, has always had high viewership. For so many Indians, particularly in the Hindi belt, it provides a deep look into the mores of interaction among individuals seeking to impress with their personalities. The effort is to dominate others without the use of physical violence and command the respect of the audience by the manner one does this. Much of what is shown is probably loosely scripted, but it serves as an extended family drama for the general viewer. The level of relatability with what happens within the house increases its popularity. In many ways, such shows reveal to many viewers their own inner selves.
This is particularly so in the case of relationships between men and women. There are always some couples that ‘hook up’ during the show to provide a ‘love’ angle to the entertainment, and there can be no doubt that many youngsters ‘learn’ from what they see. As such, a show like this has a great responsibility to ensure that positive messages go out to those in impressionable phases of their lives. Considering that men and women are included equally as competitors establishes the first principle – physical attributes do not count in the quest for dominance. Psychological warfare has many elements and these are available equally to all persons of any description. That women have won in the past, and this year’s winner is also probably going to be one, indicates equality in leadership potential.
Then there is the important message to be sent out regarding the various categories of relationship between men and women. The shared space – including beds – irrespective of gender removes inhibitions among participants and viewers, alike. It is made clear that respecting the boundaries is more about responsible personal behaviour and not just a code enforced by society. How much the most admired celebrities in Indian society understand and practice this is there for all to see. There are discussions and arguments in this regard in which many shades of opinion are expressed. In the ongoing show, for instance, there have been three ‘pairings’, each raising questions about right and wrong. Paras and Mahira are close friends, they insist. Mahira, however, doesn’t like being kissed on the cheek, which she has repeatedly declared and he has ignored. The young must learn that even in a close relationship, consent is a must. And what about Sana freely lavishing her affection – kisses included – on whosoever she is attracted to, particularly Siddharth? If it were a man acting like this, would he not be described as a stalker? The relationship between Vishal and Madhurima shows how toxic these can become. All this drama carries with it important lessons for the young, which they hopefully will learn in the context of their lives.