Bigg Boss 8: Salman pilots 'airline' themed show but it fails to take off

Rajyasree Sen

Sep 23, 2014 11:09:55 IST

The cream of Indian reality shows began last night. I’m not being sarcastic.

Bigg Boss really is the crème de la crème of reality TV in India. And this is purely because of Salman Khan. Whatever we may think of his acting chops or lack thereof, his superstar status makes his hosting a reality show equivalent to having Brad Pitt host Bigg Brother US.

But that’s the where the glory of the show ends this season.

Eight years running, makes it difficult to find celebrity participants – at least known ones or ones we’d care even a smidgen about. So the makers have decided to show their creativity in the brand new set they’ve developed for the show.

A crashed and grounded plane with tendrils growing around it. In light of all the recent airline disasters maybe not the best idea – but hey, what do I know. But going by the line-up of celebrities, the crashed plane set is hopefully not portending ominous times.

Bigg Boss 8: Salman pilots airline themed show but it fails to take off

Image courtesy Colors website

On to the launch of the show.

It began with Salman in a glittery pilot’s jacket surrounded by various diners from Leopold and Mondegar, dancing next to him. And then trooped out the “stars”.

First up, were the starlets. Sonali Raut, who’s already done her penance for entering Bollywood – by starring opposite Himesh Reshamiya in Xposé. Then entered TV actress, Karishma Tanna. You don’t know who she is? That’s okay. I do, and it’s not something to be proud of. In keeping with the airplane theme, the two girls were made to sit in a waiting room.

The next entry was Upen Patel, whose claim to fame is that he once dated Malaika Arora’s sister. Notice the six degrees of separation. Salman is Malaika’s brother-in-law. Malaika is Amrita’s sister. Amrita is Upen’s ex. He entered the set while dancing with last year's contestant, Eli Avram.

Then there was someone who plays a vamp on TV – as there is every year. Soni Singh.

A little smidgen of semi-celebrity was added by Arya Babbar. It made my heart break for Raj Babbar – who studied method acting in National School of Drama and the fruit of whose loins is now dancing and prancing on Bigg Boss pretending to be Singham. What was scarier though, was to see Prateik Babbar looking like Matthew McConnaughey at the end of Dallas Buyer’s Club. Someone give the boy an acting role and some food.

There are some staples “types” of contestants who are always part of Bigg Boss.

For instance, there will always be an ex-model or person representing SoBo, who will be slightly avant garde. They will most likely be covered in tattoos and sport a strange hairdo. There was Sapna Bhavnani before, this time there’s model Diandra Soares.

Then there’s the token gay contestant - and sometimes when the Bigg Boss makers are feeling extremely adventurous they get a transgender contestant.

This year we have Mr Gay India 2014 – Sushant Divgikar. Why does every gay contestant on Bigg Boss seem to have stepped out off the sets of Dostana? They must be flamboyant, in-your-face and fit the gay prototype that Hindi cinema has constructed for them. Also, just dress attractively. Why wear baby shorts when you have legs that look like matchsticks?

Divgikar was followed by someone called Praneet Bhatt who, I gathered from his act, plays 'Shakuni Mama' on the telly. And then there was the other staple Bigg Boss contestant, who I think Salman Khan has written into his contract.

The Katrina Kaif lookalike.

Last year, there was Eli Avram. This year is Natasha Stankovic from Serbia. The things we must do to keep our hosts happy.

And then there were three TV stars, who I have never seen before and wouldn’t recognise if they dropped on my lap from the sky. Even Salman looked confused by their presence.

The final contestant was the artist formerly known as Minisha Lamba.

Lamba was one of the prettiest and freshest faces to enter Bollywood years ago. Today, she looks like a cross between Liza Minelli and David Gest. It’s like she went to the Michael Jackson nose shop (which all our actresses seem to love visiting) and got one of the noses for herself.

Why would someone so attractive do something so horrible to her face? It’s beyond depressing. She was sent into the Bigg Boss house on a conveyor belt (Notice how they’ve kept the airplane theme going? Smart boys and girls.) in a crate. When she emerged from the crate, there was a palpable fear that no one might recognise her.

The twist in the show is that there are three people who’ve been chosen to be part of a Secret Society which will give orders to the contestants and will remain safe from elimination. These are an RJ, a socialite (could it be Sheetal Mafatlal?) and an actor-cum-director-cum-muscleman (who I’m certain is Puneet Issar because there’s always one older person on the show, like Sidhu or Anita Advani).

You don’t see their faces and they’re dressed in hooded cloaks and have actual beds to sleep in.

We also got a social message from Salman, with the entry of the Secret Society. He informed us that wherever there are middlemen there will be scams, corruption and manipulation.

Slow clap.

After 90 minutes, here’s what I took away. As long as there’s Bigg Boss, there’ll always be a halfway house for the semi-celebrity.

Also, maybe it’s time Bollywood and the small screen stopped pushing the stereotype of gay men being freaks of nature. If you must play the homosexual card, why not introduce a lesbian contestant? Most importantly, avoid plastic surgery at all costs.

Who said Bigg Boss doesn’t have a social message?

Disclaimer: Bigg Boss 8 is aired on Colors which is owned by Network 18, which also publishes Firstpost

Updated Date: Sep 23, 2014 11:11:57 IST