Ever since the news of Sajid Khan’s participation in Bigg Boss 16 was confirmed, people were in disbelief. The filmmaker was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women during the #MeToo movement. On the basis of these serious allegations, The Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) barred him from directing films, and he was dropped from Housefull 4. As per his own confession inside the Salman Khan-hosted show, he did not get any work and sat at home for four years. Last month, he announced his comeback with 100%, a film starring Riteish Deshmukh, John Abraham, Shehnaaz Gill and Nora Fatehi.
Bigg Boss, for all its controversies and love-hate relationship with fans, remains the biggest reality show in India. Its dedicated fans were disheartened as they saw Sajid Khan on the stage and witnessed the attempts to white-wash his image. He conveniently skipped talking about the allegations, and instead blamed his ‘arrogance’ for his downfall as he was introduced in Bigg Boss. Sajid maintained that after a few hits he believed he had become infallible, and that led to everything coming crashing down.
This could have been the perfect platform to address the allegations and make amends, instead it has become a mode to brush everything conveniently under the carpet and give Sajid another shot at return to stardom.
His entry into Bigg Boss is not surprising — the reality show has made no bones as it welcomed contestants with chequered pasts and controversies attached to their names — Bunty Chor, Swami Om, Raja Chaudhary and Hindustani Bhau being just a few of them. Even this season’s contestant Shalin Bhanot was accused of domestic violence by his former wife, actor Daljiet Kaur. Hence, bringing in Sajid Khan months before his film goes on the floor was not a shocker. Also, given his sister, actor-choreographer Farah Khan has stepped in for host Salman Khan a few times earlier, giving the filmmaker a platform to resurrect his image was deplorable but expected. But what’s mind-boggling is to see was how Sajid is being portrayed on the show.
Salman Khan seemed quite happy to have Sajid on the show, as he narrated their past anecdotes. While he warned him that he won’t be showing any kind of favouritism, he suggested Sajid should find a girl inside as he has been single for a long time. He also laughed at how there was just ‘one low’ in his life when Sajid mentioned it to be a roller-coaster ride. Netizens have already shown their displeasure with Shehnaaz Gill coming forward to support him.
Given that Shehnaaz Gill enjoys a massive Bigg Boss fandom, some of it rubbed off on Sajid too. The filmmaker heaped words of praise on Shehnaaz, saying how he has found a connection with her, and that she will be a superstar. Her dedicated fans soon were defending her and Sajid on social media.
Many would argue that he did not accept any of the accusations but as a society, we cannot also ignore women who open up about their plight. Former journalist and now chat show host Janice Sequeira rightly pointed out seeing Sajid on Bigg Boss could send out wrong messages to women, who showed courage by opening up about celebrity predators. “I have woken up triggered and upset. It’s bad enough that men who were called out during #MeToo have suffered ZERO consequences. But for the country’s most popular reality show to rehabilitate one of them and *treat* him like a star? WTF IS WRONG WITH US AS A SOCIETY?,” she posted in another tweet.
Not naming Shehnaaz in her next tweet, she did mention how the Bigg Boss 13 star could be using her voice for better issues. “Finally, and I say this cautiously- Those discussing a beloved reality star/actor’s support for this man, let me just say this. She has among the biggest fandoms. And if anyone can make her see sense, they can She’s capable of SO MUCH. Why lend her power to this man?”
Singer Sona Mohapatra also called out Sajid’s presence in the show, tagging his cousin Farhan Akhtar. She tweeted, “Dear @FarOutAkhtar, you front an organisation called MARD. This man & the many others are known to you personally. Speak up, Stand Up only when it’s convenient or pays to virtue signal for ‘our cause’ not now? Charity begins at home.”
Checkout other tweets about Sajid Khan, some against his participation, and some supporting him.
Now, coming to Sajid Khan’s presence in the house, it’s ironic how most of the contestants are hero-worshipping him. While none have dared to say a word about his past, they are instead busy kowtowing to him, addressing him as ‘Sajid sir’. To top it all, Shiv Thakare and Archana Gautam were also discussing how Sajid looks sad in the house. “Dil ke bohot acche hai, sikhne ko milta hai unse,” they said, while showing remorse at how a big filmmaker like him has to wash utensils in this show.
To bring Sajid Khan’s knack for comedy to the fore, Bigg Boss has also given him the task to translate Abdu Rozik. The Tajikistani singer is a popular social media star and is already winning hearts in the reality show with his innocence. Now to have Sajid piggyback on his popularity is a sure-shot ploy to keep the director in a positive light.
To see his presence on Bigg Boss 16 from an outsider’s view, the trick did work superbly well for the show, and also for him. Ever since the episode premiered, Sajid Khan has been trending on social media giving more buzz to the show. However, as an industry and a society, it does leave us with many questions to which there are no easy answers.