SYMPATHY VOTE: Big Boss 11 winner Shilpa Shinde (centre) with host Salman Khan
SYMPATHY VOTE: Big Boss 11 winner Shilpa Shinde (centre) with host Salman Khan

By Asjad Nazir

EVER since I revealed the first and second place choices in popular reality TV series Bigg Boss 11 six days before the final, there has been mass speculation about how I could possibly have known, when all the major Indian media were scrambling to find out the winner right up until the announcement.

Before I reveal how I knew Shilpa Shinde would win and Hina Khan would come second, I must put in the disclaimer that I didn’t watch a single episode of the Indian answer to Celebrity Big Brother. I’m just putting forward a theory and only those who watched the series can see if my thinking towards my conclusion was correct.

Hina Khan

It is well known within television circles that those making reality shows based on public votes will manipulate it in some way. Past contestants on these shows from around the world have confirmed this trend. Producers will draw viewers in by creating a series of stories and turning those participating into characters.

The usual formula is to have a hero, villain, victim, comedy relief and supporting cast.

Most often the victim, who if effective, is the one to invoke the most public sympathy and is singled out early on for the win. If the victim isn’t found or effective then the hero, who is usually the biggest star on the show, will be carried to the final purely because of their popularity. (Other times the hero is chosen thanks to an extraordinary ability or standing up to a villainous character).

Having been on one of the most successful TV serials of all time and runner-up on Khatron Ke Khiladi 8, Hina Khan was the biggest star on Bigg Boss 11, so a natural choice for the hero. I heard the plan was to build the show around Hina and the voting power of her considerable fan base.

Then when I suddenly starting seeing negative news headlines for Hina and wholly sympathetic ones for Shilpa Shinde, I knew the plan had changed. Hina’s fiery nature made her a more effective villain and Shilpa had seemingly been singled out as the victim in the show.

As the sympathetic social media comments surrounding Shilpa grew during December and negatives one about Hina escalated, I realised what was gonna happen. Shilpa would win and Hina would be second. Producers would get their wish of the victim vanquishing the villain – Shilpa would be carried to the final on a wave of sympathy and Hina by her huge fan base.

To magnify the characters, I think editing was used to present Hina negatively and Shilpa in a wholly sympathetic way. To achieve this result, those making shows like this use tactics like keeping their chosen one exempt from being voted out or putting them in extra footage doing good deeds, including journey reels of other contestants. There have also been cases in the past where producers have instructed contestants to behave in a certain way to invoke audience sympathy like doing extra chores.

All this is used to subliminally influence audiences and the messages were effective because Shilpa drew in votes. The popularity of Hina was such that despite negative editing she came runner up. But viewers of shows like this are becoming wise and that is perhaps why the UK version of Bigg Boss is being taken off the air permanently because of poor ratings.

If you want to predict the Bigg Boss 12 winner, it will be the person who is being bullied or harassed. The runner-up will be whoever the big star is and the third place will go to a heroic figure who has done good deeds. By watching carefully, you will see how editing and news headlines are used to create characters and I will let you know who wins a month before the next final.


THE terrible state of commercial Indian cinema was perfectly illustrated by the recent Filmfare Awards, which had mostly ridiculous nominees and winners. A prime example of this was the Best Lyricist award, which in the past had been won by masterpieces like Chaudhvin Ka Chand and Kabhi Kabhie. In 2018, however, it was given to Ullu Ka Pattha from flop film Jagga Jasoos. Shah Rukh Khan, who has been on a horrific cinematic run by his standards, perhaps fittingly hosted the 63rd edition of the event. Last year’s biggest sleeper hit Hindi Medium won a well deserved Best Film and Best Actor for Irrfan Khan, but it didn’t have much competition and went up against movies that received mostly mixed reviews. These included average film Bareilly Ki Barfi, which won Best Director for Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and not so great comedy-drama Tumhari Sulu, which gave Vidya Balan her sixth career Filmfare Award. Rajkummar Rao had the most to celebrate, winning two acting awards.

WINNERS: Konkona Sensharma with her A Death in Gunj team

Here is a list of the winners:

Best Film: Hindi Medium

Best Film (Critics Award): Newton

Best Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (Bareilly Ki Barfi)

Best Actress: Vidya Balan (Tumhari Sulu)

Best Actor: Irrfan Khan (Hindi Medium)

Best Actress (Critics Award): Zaira Wasim (Secret Superstar)

Best Actor (Critics Award): Rajkummar Rao (Trapped)

Best Debut Director: Konkona Sensharma (A Death in the Gunj)

Best Supporting Actor: Rajkummar Rao (Bareilly Ki Barfi)

Rajkumar Rao

Best Supporting Actress: Meher Vij (Secret Superstar)

Lifetime Achievement Award: Mala Sinha and Bappi Lahiri

Best Album: Pritam (Jagga Jasoos)

Best Playback Singer (Male): Arijit Singh (Roke Na Ruke Naina, Badrinath Ki Dulhania)

Best Playback Singer (Female): Meghna Mishra (Nachdi Phira, Secret Superstar)

Best Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya (Ullu Ka Pattha, Jagga Jasoos)

Best Choreography: Vijay Ganguly and Ruel Dausan Varindani (Galti Se Mistake, Jagga Jasoos)

Best Background Score: Pritam (Jagga Jasoos)

Best Dialogue: Hitesh Kewalya (Shubh Mangal Saavdhan)

Best Screenplay: Shubhashish Bhutiani (Mukti Bhavan)

Best Short Film (Fiction): Juice

Best Short Film (Non Fiction): Invisible Wings

People’s Choice Award for Best Short Film: Anahut

Best Actor in a Short Film: Jackie Shroff (Khujli)

Best Actress in a Short Film: Shefali Shah (Juice)

Best Editing: Nitin Baid (Trapped)

Best Original Story: Amit Masurkar (Newton)

Best Action: Tom Struthers (Tiger Zinda Hai)

Best Cinematography: Sirsha Ray (A Death In The Gunj)

Best Production Design: Parul Sondh (Daddy)


Shah Rukh Khan

SHAH RUKH KHAN recently said the failure of his 2000 film Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani led him to become stronger. By that logic, the spectacular failure of his recent films including Jab Harry Met Sejal and Fan should have turned him into a super hero. But I don’t think the self-indulgent films have made him any stronger or wiser, and he will get badly burned again with his next release Zero, where he plays a dwarf.


Sophie Choudrey

BRITISH singer, actress and TV personality Sophie Choudry once again set the red carpet on fire at the recent Filmfare Awards. She looked ravishing in a Karleo fashion tassel gown teamed with jewellery from Gehna Jewels. The most astonishing thing about this stunning look was that her stylist pulled it together at the last minute.

Sophie told me: “The outfit I was supposed to wear was stuck at customs. We had several options but I just wanted to be sleek, sexy and glamorous for Filmfare. I didn’t want to look like a cake or have a long trail this time. The secret of a red carpet look is to wear whatever makes you feel amazing and comfortable. That confidence shines through easily.”



WHEN Paintal, Rishi Kapoor, Ranjeet, Danny Denzongpa, Prem Chopra and Jeetendra (pictured together right, from top left) got together for a party recently, the Bollywood greats proved they still had a sense of fun.

They got together at legendary movie villain Ranjeet’s house and showed they remained the best of friends decades later. They have collectively starred in countless blockbusters during their heyday in the 1970s.



Manushi Chillar

BEAUTY queen Manushi Chillar will make her acting debut in Bollywood and has apparently signed up her first feature film, with an announcement to be made soon. The Miss World winner is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Priyanka Chopra and become a big international star. She took her first baby steps into Bollywood by being featured in Dabboo Ratnani’s now legendary celebrity calendar alongside major Indian movie stars.


I WAS really surprised that Akshay Kumar decided to push back the release of his film Pad Man to February 9 to avoid a clash with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat. Pad Man had been generating a lot of buzz, including western mainstream coverage, and with this week being a major holiday in India there was definitely room for a double release.

Akshay Kumar in Pad Man

I really hope all those associated with Padmaavat appreciate what Akshay has done and support Pad Man when it comes out because it is perhaps the most important commercial Hindi film release of 2018. I will be really disappointed if Padmavaat lead stars Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh don’t encourage their fans to watch it next month after Akshay’s amazing gesture.