By Hindustan Times
It's almost a Bachna ae haseeno moment in the Bigg Boss house this season. Thirteen beauties from different walks of life entered the fifth edition of the controversial reality show, with Bollywood villain Shakti Kapoor in tow on Sunday night. What will add "double dhamaal" is hero Salman Khan
and "khalnayak" Sanjay Dutt's chemistry as the hosts.
The women contestants are an eclectic mix - controversial models, actresses, a wrestler, as well as a proud transgender.
The participants include - model Shraddha Sharma, who grabbed headlines for her relationship with former Bigg Boss contestant Raja Chaudhary; former Miss Afghanistan Vida Samadzai, who was banned in the country for wearing a bikini; Nihita Biswas, wife of "Bikini Killer" Charles Sobhraj and actress-singer Raageshwari, who has bounced back to arc lights after battling serious health problems.
Other contestants include Pooja Missra, Pooja Bedi, Juhi Parmar, model-actress and winner of Miss India International 2003 Shonali Nagrani, popular host Mandeep Bevli, and Rajasthani folk dancer Gulabo Sapera. Actress Mahek Chahal, who is said to be a close friend of Salman, has also joined the list.
If last year The Great Khali added muscle power to the show, this year, woman wrestler Sonika Kaliraman will be seen throwing her weight around. This is her second reality show after Khatron Ke Khiladi, and she is now six months pregnant.
Transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is a highlight on the show. In the past seasons, cross dressers like Bobby Darling, designer Rohit Verma and Pakistani cross-designer Begum Nawazish Ali have made an appearance. But Tripathi, who is one of the country's most visible LGBT community representative, hopes to make a difference in the mindsets of the general public about people of her kind.
The previous seasons saw a healthy balance between male and female participants. But this season, it's different. There's plenty of bird watching opportunity for the men, but for the female viewers, there's no eyecandy.
The only male - Shakti Kapoor, is over 50. In 2005, he was stuck in controversy after a news channel aired tapes shot with hidden camera showing the actor seeking sexual favours from a journalist disguised as a Bollywood aspirant. The tapes also had Kapoor speaking about the casting couch in Bollywood and naming several big actresses, directors and producers.
It would be interesting to see if Shakti has some revelations to make on the show.
Isolated in one compact house situated in Karjat, with no connectivity and communication with the outside world, and under 24X7 surveillance, one expects to see a lot of friction and backbiting - which already began as soon as five lady contestants walked into the Bigg Boss 5 house in the premiere episode.
Also with two star hosts - Salman and Sanjay, who are ready to give contestants a "double vaat", the show will hopefully live up to its promise of being "bigger, bolder and louder".