Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Rahul Mahajan, a reality star or a survivor?
Reality TV show “Bigg Boss” is winning some healthy TRPs for newly launched general entertainment channel ‘Colors’ and the programme producers must be praying that Rahul Mahajan stays in the Indian version of ‘Big Brother’ for some more weeks to come.
He has endeared himself to the audience and some female inmates with his child-like histrionics and has managed to get himself voted back time and again.
Rahul’s a man on a journey of redemption, wanting to use the ‘Bigg Boss’ house to reach out to the world and tell us all “I’m not all that bad” and he seems to be pulling out all stops in his endeavour.
Inside the house, though, he’s perceived as a real threat and is hated for hogging the “footage” by some of the other contestants. They feel he’s cracked the Da Vinci code of ‘Bigg Boss’ and holds all the cards for survival. Rahul’s hypothesis – the TV cameras and the show producers will follow those contestants who say and do things that can grab viewers’ interest.
It’s a crucial week for Rahul as he’s once again been nominated along with the “enfant terrible” of the house, TV actor Raja Chaudhry. Deviating from the format, ‘Bigg Boss’ himself has picked the two for violating house rules. In a further twist to the saga, the two nominees do not know that the voting lines are closed for the week.
After two nights of preparation and cajoling, Rahul managed to narrate events that transpired in the last days of his famous father’s life.
Extreme close-ups of an emotional Rahul and his empathetic contestants saw Indian reality TV testing new waters.
He’d mentioned to some of the house inmates the previous night that he wanted the “mood” to be right for this one opportunity that he’d always wanted – a chance to use “national television” and the same media which had pilloried him within weeks of his father’s death.
Pramod Mahajan was shot and killed by his younger brother, Pravin, in April 2006 apparently over a money dispute.
Those days and months would have obviously been tough on both Rahul and the entire Mahajan family. Though the prosecution said said Pravin Mahajan, who did not have a steady job, was angry after Pramod refused his demand for a large sum of money, conspiracy theories were flying thick and fast.
A grieving BJP which saw Rahul as a future leader who could possibly step into his father’s shoes and a sympathetic nation which saw strength and character in those eyes hidden behind sun glasses suddenly felt betrayed.
A hastily arranged marriage to a childhood friend which did not last long did nothing to salvage a young man’s reputation and Rahul wanted to make this chance in ‘Bigg Boss’ count and he’s been giving it his best shot.
But what has irked me or at least spurred some serious “churn” in my mind has been Rahul’s performance over the last couple of days. I don’t know if his is a personality-type or a sign of the times.
When I lost my father nearly 15 years ago, I was so damn selfish and fiercely protective about my feelings for my father that I did not want to drop my guard and let the world know anything.
Since the mid-90s also saw the advent of satellite television in India, one used to wonder how these American families could be so open about their emotional scars on Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue’s talk shows. I was sure Indians will never go as ‘public’ with their emotions.
Without casting aspersions on anyone, either Rahul or the producers of this reality show, I would like to ask a a couple of questions
- Did Rahul Mahajan time this revelation about his father’s last days?
- Have Indians changed with liberalisation and “east meeting west” on common platforms like TV and the Internet??
I would really like to know.