India: Swami Agnivesh rejigs Big Boss, own persona
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India: Swami Agnivesh rejigs Big Boss, own persona

Having known Swami Agnivesh aka Shyam Vepa Rao for almost three decades – the first few of them with reverence and awe, I am surprised at one level. But on the other level Agnivesh’s decision is on expected lines.

The decision is surprising because one hardly associates a man who has fought for the rights of bonded labourers, child workers and organized inter-faith dialogues with his choice to spend days (maybe weeks) in a celebrity dog-house with people who are either faded or fading stars – from the tinsel world and allied professions.


Swami Agnivesh. Pic: AP.

I do not find Agnivesh’s decision out of step because this is a logical progression of the path he has mostly pursued in recent years. Most of his decisions for several years have been motivated by the desire to remain in the spotlight by either courting controversy or by self projection. He loves television and has presented shows using these occasions as a platform to parade his views. Not that there is anything unethical in this – after all, every public figure wants to be on TV – overtly or covertly. And every one of them is entitled to project views and the value system he or she believes in.

But public life is all about timing. Saying something or doing something does not have significance on its own. When an act is committed or performed is more important than the act itself. So why has he done this – and now?

As far as Agnivesh’s entry into Big Boss is concerned, the channel has pulled of a minor coup as viewer interest will be triggered by the baggage of recent notoriety that Agnivesh carries. People are curious to know if he discussed his entry with Kapil Maharaj before taking a decision. As far as the people are concerned, they could not be bothered that the face they affix to that name differs from Agnivesh’s claims.

Among co-travelers in the anti-graft sojourn, his move has been welcomed by Baba Ramdev – another man who loves being on TV. A visit to his office in New Delhi on Tuesday revealed enthusiasm on his decision. After a long time, Agnivesh is guaranteed of publicity which is certainly welcome.

There is no denying that Agnivesh is extremely well read, quick on the uptake and normally does not get rattled easily (unless caught by a spy camera).

Big Boss is all about pandering to waistline voyeurism among viewers. A Yogi among a bevy of Menakas in the presence of ignored men makes good TV. Given the uniqueness of his background on the sets, Swami Agnivesh is sure to dominate proceedings initially at least. Whether he is able to sustain this is to be seen. He has had exposure for long to use of cloak-and-dagger methods. And Agnivesh has been in politics for too long not to have picked up a trait or two.

Publicity he has wanted and he will get that. What Agnivesh has lost by his decision is something that he possibly did not really care in recent years.