As the third season of Bigg Boss Tamil 3 was ready to roll, a group of journalists from select media houses were invited to experience the life of a contestant—trapped inside the house—for a day. I sort of knew what was going to happen and was mentally preparing myself for the tasks. I had been to the same house in the first season. To be honest, it was not a pleasant experience because I was the first person to be evicted. I couldn’t really connect with my inmates—except one or two—but this time, it was nothing short of fun. I ‘socialised’ better.
In fact, I was looking forward to spending 24 hours on the sets because it works as a detox programme. I needed some time for myself. No mobile phones, books, the Internet, newspapers and clock. Naturally, the ‘insomniac’ in me had a good dose of sleep at night. The Bigg Boss house is a hotbed for gossip, deceit and ‘stories’. The idea is to bring out the ‘face’ you normally keep to yourself.
We reach the sets at 7 am. We were served idli-chutney, pongal-sambar, poori-masala and the quintessential filter kaapi. There were a few known faces and acquaintances. Some exchange “hellos” and others, glances. After thorough scrutiny, we were blindfolded and taken into the house in pairs. We were instructed to wear the sling with a mic across the shoulder, which can be removed while stepping into the washroom, and of course, while sleeping.
There is no escaping Bigg Boss’s watchful eyes. Everything is recorded and monitored by a team live. We are being watched and heard. Even as we eat, cameras turn around us looking for ‘reactions’ and ‘expressions’.
The first thing we notice was the jail that was separated from the house. We see a beautiful seating area in the garden with intricate designs on the wall, a swimming pool, boiler room (for smokers), painted furniture and a red tractor. The house was locked as we wait for the rest of the journalists at the artificial green lawn. Once all of us were in, the door opened. But, after a task. We were told one of us should stay in jail. There was confusion. Nobody was volunteering, in the beginning, to stay behind bars and I understand why. After rounds of rock-paper-scissors, one of the 15 contestants was sent in. Within a few seconds, Bigg Boss was kind enough to let him outside, gauging his sportiveness and our team spirit.
We enter the spacious living room, dominated by a splash of colours—particularly— yellows and oranges. Magnificent is the word. Such was the grandeur of the tastefully-done sets. A twirled moustache man with an aruval greets us. To the left is a bicycle, stuck into the wall. We move further, there is a majestic one-eyed Virumaandi Kamal Haasan portrait, besides a cool Rajinikanth in his swag Petta look. The walls are adorned with traditional artwork of Tamil Nadu from Bharatanatyam to oyilattam, bommalattam and mythological representation of folklore.
We can’t miss the confession room designed like a demon’s mouth with a crown atop, besides canvas paintings with masks. Maybe, they reflect us—the ‘masked’ housemates? Opposite, we see a ten-headed Ravana. Then, we see the ‘Agam TV’ that connects the host Kamal Haasan and inmates.
There is a huge dining table in the centre with space for housemates to cook in the mobile kitchen (designed like a truck), at the far end. But we were served lunch, dinner, tea/coffee and biscuits once the storeroom buzzer rang—although the housemates have to cook their own food. Our focus shifted to the bedroom. Eight beds on each side. Unlike the previous seasons, there is no split but has a wheel-like structure in the centre—that highlights the obvious partition. One of the journalists, winks and asks me, “How do we change our dresses? Pretty much, everything is open!” I shake my head and point my finger towards the restroom. She laughs.
Our first task was to choose the captain. Four people volunteered and we had to select one of them. They were asked to build a pyramid out of paper cups. Next, a contestant was asked to wear a sunglass that would apparently make him ‘invisible’ to others. We were asked not to acknowledge his presence.
Also, we played dumb charades—the game where words are communicated with gestures and signs. Rather than telling the movie name out, one should enact the title, so that the rest could figure what it is. The sun began to set. We were asked to share ‘proud moments’ from our respective careers. Though it was a tad boring, we had to sit through it. Before the dinner, Bigg Boss asked us to nominate two people for elimination. We thought we could tell names ‘secretly’ in the confession room, but it was an “open nomination”. More awkwardness follows. Sigh. Around 11 pm, lights were switched off.
Given the absence of gadgets, it was amazing to see 14 inmates indulge in ‘real’ conversations. In the first season, there was not much interaction. Almost half the crowd was comfortable more or less in small groups. Very few made an effort to actually know the other person and initiate a conversation. Oh, further, we don’t get to sleep during the day. If our eyes shut, we would hear the sound of a dog barking.
The next morning, we wake up to the super-energetic Marana Mass song, which was played twice. I was too tempted to shake a leg, but did not. A majority of the contestants, after a shower, was ready for a cup of coffee, while others were still asleep. A fellow journalist quipped, “Did anyone listen to those ‘ghost stories’ these boys exchanged after removing their mics?” I had to smile sheepishly and shake my head in disagreement. I said, “I dozed off early.” We had one final task before the stay ended. A 21-year-old VJ was asked to teach us music.
It was time to leave. We sang, danced and bid adieu to the house. We walk out, wondering what it would be like to live in a surreal setting such as this. We were handed our belongings. And more importantly, food! I burped loudly, after a heavy breakfast, with a sigh of relief… no cameras around.
We stayed for a day. Will you do it for 100 days?
Bigg Boss Tamil 3 airs from Monday to Sunday at 9.30 pm on Vijay TV.