Friday, September 12, 2008

In August Company!

August, 2008 has been a very eventful month. It certainly has changed the life of quite a few people. Or at least, it promises to.

Two events took off - one internationally and one nationally. These two events would seem to have as much in common as George Bush and Prakash Karat, but surprisingly, there was quite a lot in common. Both events were followed by an entire nation on the telly.

Oh yes, I’m talking about the Olympics and Bigg (note the numerology!) Boss.

The Olympics. Ah, every four years of negligence and ignorance, we hope that someone will get onto the podium. Oh, it doesn’t matter if we don’t know what the sport is all about. I mean, how many people knew what sport Rajyavardhan Rathore won his medal in? Anyway, this saw the triumphant return of heroes Abhinav Bindra, Sushil Kumar and Vijender Kumar with a gold and 2 bronze medals, respectively. To put things in perspective, this is India’s first ever individual Gold and richest haul of medals ever.  Not bad for a nation of a billion people, eh?

The Olympics which started off on August 8th (except for football, which kicked off on August 6th) had the hosts, China, doing everything in their power to ensure a great show. And it was too. The most ostentatious Olympic games of the modern era got under way in the spectacular Bird's Nest stadium, with more than 80 heads of state joining 91,000 spectators and 15,000 performers for an opening ceremony expected that attracted a global television audience of more than 3 billion people. That’s half the world’s population!

Now, coming to Indian Reality TV. Bigg Boss 2 aired on 17th August, with Shilpa Shetty replacing Arshad Warsi as the host this season. The first episode began with Shilpa Shetty's electrifying performance in a golden outfit on the title track of Bigg Boss Season 2. This was followed by an exclusive preview of the Bigg Boss House for the viewers. The masala over the UK performance obviously got in enough eyeballs, enough for media planners to place a premium on ad slots.

Later, the grand and majestic 'confession room' was shown where the participants are only allowed to enter when summoned by the Bigg Boss himself (Oooh! Scary!). Shilpa Shetty welcomed and introduced each of the housemates who come from different walks of life, a mix of newsmakers which include celebrities, politicians, singers, models and commoners. They all provided interesting reasons to be on the show. In turn, Shilpa encouraged their decision to be a part of this show and also provided them tips to survive in the house. Also giving tips was the winner of last year’s Bigg Boss, Rahul Roy!

In the end, Shilpa was seen with a lock and key, which she used to lock the huge door of the Bigg Boss 2 House. Hence the games began!

Now I have noticed quite a few similarities between the two events.

·         Both were eagerly anticipated events

·         The hosts of both were involved in a controversy, China with Human Rights violations and Shilpa being the target of Racism.

·         Both have new Heroes (so to speak).

·         Both gave people a second chance at redeeming themselves.

·         The winners of both events will be more famous coming out than when they went in.

Bigg Boss2 has its fair share of entertainment too. Like the Olympics has its doping charges, Bigg Boss 2 had its first international contestant Jade Goody, withdraw 2 days into the show due to a diagnosis of cancer. Her intention of entering the show was to show the people of India, other aspects of herself. As I mentioned before for most of the contestants this time, it’s about second chances.

Being under scrutiny 24x7 for any period can be taxing. Any illusion of privacy is shattered. There are no masks, no illusions. The essence of a person’s true being emerges and it might not always be what we think it is. Bigg Boss would say is a crucible of a person’s character, an agni-pariksha, if I may use the term. While most of the contestants have may have been in the spotlight, very few of them would be used to this kind of test. The only ones who come to mind are Ashutosh, by virtue of a similar experience on MTV Roadies 5.0, Jade Goody by virtue of being on at least 3 versions of Big Brother and just possibly Monica Bedi. All that interrogation must have toughened her up somehow.

With our Olympic heroes, it will be a blitzkrieg of media attention, usually reserved for cricket stars, as everyone focuses on the flavour of the season for a while and then to be forgotten till the next big competition. Come to think of it, it’s not a bad career plan at all. Become a master in some obscure event that no one but three other people in the world would play, get a medal, be accorded a hero, get loads of money from everyone ranging from the President to the local pub – and relax for the rest of your life. Hmm, I wonder if underwater juggling is taken.

The Olympics though are now over. China wins and about a 100 Chinese athletes are proud to be branded “Made In China”. China has new celebs too. An anonymous guard of the Olympic Torch as it made its rounds through various countries, and dubbed Little Brother, by the media and fans, has become a major sex symbol. Again he owes this honour to exposure on TV and other media.

Bigg Boss 2 though will end only in November so we have more time to get to know the contestants better and choose who wins the contest at the end of that time period.

Write into and let me know who your favourites are and why.

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