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Home > Entertainment News > Bollywood News > Article > Sab set hai Boss

Sab set hai, Boss

Updated on: 09 July,2024 09:19 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Letty Mariam Abraham | letty.abraham@mid-day.com

Mid-day takes a look at the behind-the-scenes action to understand the making of the longest-running controversial reality show, Bigg Boss

Sab set hai, Boss

Anil Kapoor and Salman Khan

Pick up any season of Bigg Boss, and there is much happening on camera—from tasks to controversies, from flirtations to feuds. But things are equally dramatic off camera too. Do you know what happened after Bigg Boss season 2 contestants Rahul Mahajan and Raja Chaudhary breached the rules and jumped off the set’s outer wall? Or when Imam Siddiqui demanded to walk out of the sixth season? While we’ve seen the on-camera action for many years, this time, we zoom in on the people behind the camera who join forces every year to give us the reality show. From identifying interesting contestants to watching endless hours of footage, from running dummy episodes to setting up more than 100 cameras, they tell us what it takes to orchestrate one of the biggest reality shows.




Inception

Deepak Dhar, Founder and Group CEO, Banijay Asia & EndemolShine India, remembers that he watched the original Big Brother, a Dutch show, on DVD way back in 2005. The international team (of Banijay) had a simple ask—would it be possible to adapt the show in India? “I was shocked when I watched it because a show like this is highly volatile and risqué. I couldn’t have watched the DVD with my family in the room. It was difficult to even fathom something like this could work in India, but I took it up as a challenge,” shares Dhar. He pitched the adaptation to several broadcasters until Sony TV first picked it up. To date, Dhar remembers that the first contestant to enter the Bigg Boss house in 2006 was Salil Ankola, after which no one entered the house for over an hour due to a technical glitch. In the meantime, Ankola grew anxious, wondering if he was the only contestant on the show. Dhar laughs, “Salil thought it was a con job!”

Imam Siddiqui, who was often spotted doing yoga in a bodysuit, insisted on leaving the house at 3 am. Pics/Satej Shinde
Imam Siddiqui, who was often spotted doing yoga in a bodysuit, insisted on leaving the house at 3 am. Pics/Satej Shinde

Getting the right players

Early on, the makers figured out that the show was more about emotions than showcasing risqué things. “The minute we see a person with an agenda, we strike him off the list,” asserts Dhar, adding that the idea has always been to rope in people who have stories to tell. “The fourth season was a standout, where we had Shweta Tiwari, Dolly Bindra, Khali, and Pamela Anderson. That was the turning point of Bigg Boss in the country. It was also the year we got Salman Khan as the host. We even cooperated with the authorities when they wanted to come and monitor if Monica Bedi dropped some evidence,” he shares.

Rahul Mahajan, Raja Chaudhary, Ashutosh Kaushik and Zulfi Syed were seen scaling the wall in BB2
Rahul Mahajan, Raja Chaudhary, Ashutosh Kaushik and Zulfi Syed were seen scaling the wall in BB2

The show’s detractors often speculate that Bigg Boss is scripted. But Tushar Joshi, Editor in Chief (Creative Director), rubbishes the speculation. He notes that often, the contestants provide the drama, while the creative improvises at times, but the makers have never intervened in the proceedings. “We have never briefed any contestant, or gone in the house,” asserts Joshi, who has been associated with the show from the fifth season. He says the show relies largely on contestants’ personalities and their inter-dynamics.  “If a contestant is my biggest character, I can’t suddenly change my creative. For example, Ankita Lokhande was one of the most talked-about characters in the house. I couldn’t sideline her unless the house decided to sideline her. It’s a chess game between them and us. Whenever we make a move, they will also react.”

Deepak Dhar (left) Monica Bedi was under suspicion for her alleged connection with gangster Abu Salem
Deepak Dhar (left) Monica Bedi was under suspicion for her alleged connection with gangster Abu Salem

The makers also got a few seasons wrong in terms of casting. Abhishek Mukherjee, Head of Project, points to the ninth and 12th seasons. “In the ninth season, 10 out of 16 contestants were failures. So, we pumped up [the show] through various tasks and situations.”

Takes a village to make the show

The crew consists of over 700 people, who are then divided into weekday and weekend teams. “One is the reality team, which handles the episode from Monday to Friday, and the other is the weekend team. Despite being the weekend team, they are expected to watch the entire footage during the week. Then there is another team that takes care of my 24/7 live channel interactivity and the Unseen Undekha section,” explains Joshi.

(From left) Tushar Joshi, Abhishek Mukherjee and Sarvesh Singh
(From left) Tushar Joshi, Abhishek Mukherjee and Sarvesh Singh

Let’s make it happen

Which brings us to the most important part: the execution of Bigg Boss. It’s known that the show is shot 24x7 with over 100 cameras. While there are cameras stationed inside the house, there are also cameras placed near all the windows, with cameramen trying to capture the tiniest of actions and conversations. Did you know that when the contestants wash dishes at the sink, smoke in the smoking room, and sleep in the bedrooms, they have cameras directed at them from behind the tinted windows? If the cameraman takes a break, there is always someone to take their place.

Salman Khan
Salman Khan

Taking us around the set, Sarvesh Singh, Head of Production, says, “Everyone who enters the shooting alley around the house is expected to wear an all-black uniform to avoid reflections in the glass doors and windows. Every window is numbered. That way, when instructions are received from the control room, a cameraman can reach the right window to capture the required content. We have three rotational shifts for every crew member.” Over 62,000 wires are laid down for every connection inside the house, which is later concealed to avoid monkeys disrupting the shoot. Mukherjee says that the pressure in the PCR (production control room) is tremendous. Ahead of a season, the crew has to undergo mandatory 15-day training, where they produce dummy episodes.

Writers and editors in the production control room
Writers and editors in the production control room 

In the first couple of days, my PCR team is taken through the old episodes, where we tell them how to divide streams, what to follow, and where the story lies,” explains Joshi. “The next day, [a few crew members] go into the house, and start recording their own stories. In the next stage, we get dummy contestants and produce a few 12-hour episodes; we also do one 24-hour episode. It is not only for the crew, [but to ensure smooth functioning of everything]. Once the contestant enters, everything from plumbing to the smallest light needs to work for 105 days, or 45 days if it’s for the OTT. So, everything needs to be checked, including the pipes, flush, and gas. Sarvesh even instructs them to cook, just so that we can see if the stove is working.”

Anil Kapoor
Anil Kapoor

Everything a contestant carries inside the house is scrutinised by the team. Participants are not allowed to carry medications inside the house. If a person has a prescription for anti-anxiety, diabetes, or any other illness, it is delivered on a daily basis. “Senior journalist Deepak Chaurasia is in the house. He is diabetic and unable to walk, so we put inclines in the house for the wheelchair. Every day, his medicines and insulin shots are delivered,” explains Mukherjee.

Challenges

With a show of this magnitude, the challenges are bound to be tenfold. Singh remembers the behind-the-scenes drama that unfolded when Mahajan and Chaudhary, in the second season, breached the boundary walls, leading the creative team to consider having an early finale. “They had made a sexist remark, stating that there were no women in the house to cook for them. Bigg Boss told them that they had to make their own food. Rahul removed the mic, and said, ‘I’m not doing anything. If you don’t provide us food, we will jump off the wall.’ We thought he was [bluffing], but they jumped off the wall and started walking towards the main gate. People started capturing them on phone cameras, so we grabbed them, put them in the car, and brought them back.”

Deepak Chaurasia has been provided with a wheelchair to move about in the house
Deepak Chaurasia has been provided with a wheelchair to move about in the house

Joshi recalls another instance when Siddiqui wanted to leave the show at 3 am. “He said he has a friend in Lonavala and he wants to go to her house. It turned out to be an old bungalow of Smita Patil, which was later bought by Imam’s friend,” shares Joshi. Shifting from their Lonavala set after season 12 was another challenge. He highlights that despite having a medical team on standby 24x7, they have dealt with problems from “non-declared miscarriages. There were people taking 30 to 40 milligrams of anti-depressants in anger.”

The way ahead

With the world embracing AI, it’s only a matter of time before we have a Bigg-Boss-meets-AI version. Dhar says, “We have started moving in that direction; maybe by the end of the year or early next year, the process will be in place.”

Did you know?
>> A season of the Chinese version of Big Brother was shot in India.
>> India is the only market globally where Bigg Boss plays out across two platforms (TV and OTT) within the same year.
>> The production relocated from Lonavala’s 17-acre set to three acres in Film City.
>> Every year, the crucial members of the Bigg Boss team meet their international counterparts worldwide to discuss the previous season.

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