It’s week 5 and Snehan has been elected leader in the Bigg Boss house. There was no elimination this week though Julie got six votes and Oviya five. Meanwhile, Aarav’s romance with Oviya seems to have been sparked on again.

And the nine contestants were cut to size by Bigg Boss Kamal Haasan.

This show, which is hosted by Salman Khan in Hindi, has caught the imagination of people across Tamil Nadu. Bigg Boss Tamil has struck q chord with the audience and its popularity continues to soar with each passing week. Now can this be attributed to Kamal Haasan, the contestants or Oviya’s Army? Or all three?

There is a gamut of factors that have propelled the TRPs of this new reality show. Firstly, it’s a never-seen-before show for the Tamil audience. Touted as a reality show (but having a scripted format), Bigg Boss brings together 15 people under one roof. Most of the contestants for the Tamil version are from the Tamil film industry with a model and activist thrown in for good measure.

Secondly, people love being voyeurs and the voyeuristic nature of the show is really its USP. Given that the contestants don’t know what is happening in the outside world and are being watched through cameras, gives a certain thrill to the audience.

Thirdly, Bigg Boss Tamil has clearly kept in mind local sensibilities. Like in real life, people get to see friendships, hatred, manipulation, fights and a variety of other emotions. However, these are such that the common man or woman can relate to and would kindle their emotions. For instance, many of the fights are akin to the ‘kozha adi sandai’ (water pump fight) that many lower middle-class women are familiar with.

So we have Gayathri Raghuram using terms like ‘echhai’ and ‘moonji mogarakattai’ when she takes on roommates. Then you have the slightly more sophisticated English-speaking Oviya telling Julie that people will ‘spit on her face’.

Last but not the least, Kamal Haasan hosting Bigg Boss in Tamil is a coup of sorts because he is one star who is bold, outspoken and calls a spade a spade. The contestants themselves are not big names and the show obviously needs one to anchor it and lend it star power.

The Ulanagayagn plays God, judge and jury to these contestants and it’s interesting to see his decisions and reasoning on every show. Meanwhile, his tweets related to politics in Tamil Nadu are adding more zing.

While these are some factors as to why BB is popular, another major factor is the increase of movie ticket prices in the state. The last few months have been bad for the Tamil film industry with new releases delayed thanks to GST. The increase in ticket prices and the on-going debate about the additional 30% local body tax has added to Kollywood’s woes. In fact, footfall in theatres are said to have decreased by 30% since GST came into effect. This has given TV shows like Bigg Boss a good break as more people are now glued to their TV sets – they don’t need to spend tons of money for entertainment and drama they get right in their living rooms!

Thus, it’s not surprising we have the Oviya Army, the haters of Gayathri Raghuram, the denouncers of ‘Jallikattu’ Julie, the sympathisers of Vaiyapuri and so on. Right now, the Tamil audience is saying, ‘Shut up pannungai, Bigg Boss arambichichu’ every day at 9 PM and loving it!

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