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Behind the Curtains of Bigg Boss: The Making of Reality TV’s Longest-Running Controversial Show

Pick up any season of Bigg Boss and the screen is invariably filled with a kaleidoscope of human emotions, be it tasks, controversies, flirtations, or feuds. While the on-screen drama has always been a major talking point, the off-camera tales are equally intriguing. Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes? Like the aftermath when Bigg Boss season 2 contestants Rahul Mahajan and Raja Chaudhary jumped the set’s outer wall? Or Imam Siddiqui’s insistent exit at 3 AM during the sixth season? This time, we delve into the world behind the lens to uncover what it takes to bring one of the biggest reality shows to life every year—from selecting compelling contestants to monitoring endless hours of footage, coordinating dummy episodes, and managing over 100 cameras.

Deepak Dhar, the Founder and Group CEO of Banijay Asia & EndemolShine India, offers a nostalgic glimpse into the show’s early days. It all began in 2005 when Dhar watched the original Dutch version, Big Brother, on DVD. The international team of Banijay posed a straightforward yet daunting question—could this show be adapted for the Indian audience? “I was initially shocked by the show’s risqué and unpredictable nature,” Dhar recalls. “It wasn’t something you could watch with family. Yet, I decided to take on the challenge.”

After pitching the idea to multiple broadcasters, Sony TV finally agreed to give it a shot. Dhar vividly remembers the moment in 2006 when the first contestant, Salil Ankola, entered the Bigg Boss house. Due to a technical glitch, Ankola found himself alone for over an hour, leading him to suspect he had fallen for a con job.

Early revelations indicated that the show thrived more on emotions than risqué content. “If someone enters the house with an agenda, we cut them from the list,” Dhar states. The key was to feature people with compelling stories. The fourth season marked a significant pivot for Bigg Boss, featuring diverse personalities like Shweta Tiwari, Dolly Bindra, Khali, and even Pamela Anderson. It was also the season that saw Salman Khan stepping in as the show’s host.

Despite speculations, the show’s makers stress that Bigg Boss isn’t scripted. Tushar Joshi, Editor-in-Chief (Creative Director), debunks these rumors. Contestants naturally generate drama, and sometimes the creative team improvises, but they never meddle directly. “We never brief contestants or enter the house,” Joshi emphasizes. The show’s dynamic relies heavily on the contestants’ interactions. “If a contestant is my focal point, I can’t change my creative direction unless the house shifts the focus.”

Abhishek Mukherjee, Head of Project, admits to erring in the casting of certain seasons, particularly the ninth and twelfth.

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. “In the ninth season, 10 out of 16 contestants failed to deliver. We had to compensate with numerous tasks and scenarios to keep the show afloat.”

Executing Bigg Boss is a herculean effort that involves over 700 crew members split into weekday and weekend teams. Each member needs to stay engaged with the show’s content throughout. Another specialized team handles the 24/7 live channel and the Unseen Undekha section.

The extravagant setup comprises over 100 cameras strategically placed both inside and outside the house. “Everyone entering the shooting alley must wear black to eliminate light reflections,” explains Sarvesh Singh, Head of Production. The production control room (PCR) faces immense pressure, undergoing intense 15-day training sessions before each season, ensuring all systems, from plumbing to lighting, are flawless.

Challenges are part and parcel of producing a mega-show like Bigg Boss. Singh recounts the chaos when Mahajan and Chaudhary, during season 2, jumped the boundary walls. Bigg Boss retaliated by making the contestants prepare their own food, which led to their breakout attempt. Similarly, Joshi shares memorable instances like Imam Siddiqui’s midnight exit attempt in season 6.

Significant logistical hurdles also involve ensuring contestant safety and comfort. For instance, senior journalist Deepak Chaurasia, who is diabetic and requires insulin shots and a wheelchair, has special accommodations within the house. Every personal item, especially medications, is meticulously scrutinized by the team.

Looking forward, with AI rapidly advancing, the integration of AI into Bigg Boss isn’t far off. Dhar reveals, “We are headed in that direction and might have it in place by the end of the year or early next year.”

Did you know?>> A season of the Chinese version of Big Brother was filmed in India. >> India is the only country where Bigg Boss airs on both TV and OTT within the same year. >> The production set recently moved from Lonavala’s 17-acre plot to a condensed three-acre space at Film City. >> The Bigg Boss team meets with international counterparts annually to refine the show.

Every season of Bigg Boss guarantees high-octane drama – both on and off the camera. While the contestants deliver the theatrics, it’s the unseen heroes behind the lens who ensure the show remains the captivating spectacle it is.