Airing of Bigg Boss Telugu postponed amid casting couch allegations

Telugu, The Federal, English news website, Nagarjuna, Gayatri Gupta, Swetha Reddy, Bigg Boss
Bigg Boss Telugu is based on the British reality show Big Brother, which has been adapted into various languages including Hindi, Marathi and Tamil

The Telugu version of the popular reality TV show ‘Bigg Boss’ has landed in trouble following allegations of sexual harassment against the local coordinators.

The third season of the show, which was scheduled to go on air next week, has now been put on hold. This season was to be hosted by superstar Akkineni Nagarjuna, while the first two seasons were hosted by actors ‘Junior NTR’ and Nani.

News anchor-turned-actor Gayatri Gupta and Hyderabad-based journalist Swetha Reddy, in separate police complaints have accused the local organisers of seeking sexual favours from them. They alleged that four coordinators of the show had denied them entry into the show since they had refused to oblige them.

The complainants alleged that they were body-shamed and asked “vulgar” questions. In her complaint, Gupta said that she was dropped from the show after she refused to oblige the local organisers’ casting couch demands.

“As they terminated the contract without prior notice, I asked them for compensation. But, they started harassing me. They are pressuring me from all sides and trying to defame me,” she said. Swetha Reddy too made similar allegations.

“Asked to impress the ‘boss’”

“After meeting the local coordinators, we decided on the payment and I also signed the agreement papers, which clearly stated that I couldn’t take up any other project until the completion of the 100 days inside the Bigg Boss house,” Gupta said. “Keeping the same in mind, they blocked my dates and I rejected a couple of film offers in the meantime. Abhishek (one of the coordinators) then asked me what I could do in order to impress the ‘boss’.”

Gayatri was a presenter with the Telugu news channel ‘Sakshi’ and later started acting in movies. She rose to fame with her roles in Ice-cream 2 and Fidaa.

Meanwhile, the city police have registered a case against four members of the reality show under Section 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code.

“We received a complaint from a senior journalist and anchor stating that in March, she received a call from Bigg Boss Telugu stating that she has been selected for its third season. She accepted the offer and met four members of the reality show. As per the statement, during the meeting, those four members misbehaved with her and asked her to satisfy their boss for the final selection for the show,” the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) KS Rao said.

Star host Nagarjuna, the son of the thespian of Telugu cinema late Akkineni Nageshwara Rao, is reportedly upset over the casting couch allegations and have asked the makers to postpone the shooting for a few days, until the “negativity” surrounding the show subsides.

PIL seeks censorship of Bigg Boss

Meanwhile, a local advocate, K Jagadishwar Reddy, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in High Court, seeking a stay on the show. He also wanted the TV shows such as Bigg Boss to be subjected to censorship on the lines of film censorship and certification.

“A select group of people will be confined in a house and all their activities, conversations and their emotions are captured live by various cameras fitted in various parts of the house. All the participants were lured into it with the promise of money and fame in a short span of time and all of them will be treated as objects of amusement for the viewers,” the petitioner said.

Bigg Boss Telugu is based on the British reality show Big Brother, which has been adapted into various languages including Hindi, Marathi and Tamil. It is a reality show where contestants from different walks of life share a common house for a certain period of time, during which they have to deal with each other’s difference and take part in challenges.

The inmates of Bigg Boss’ house are not permitted to talk in any other language except Telugu. Each of the seasons run for 100 days. The third season of the show is set to be shot at Annapurna Studio in Hyderabad, which is owned by Nagarjuna’s family.