India Uncut

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Rahul Roy and the voting mechanics of Bigg Boss

As I have been predicting for weeks, Rahul Roy has emerged the winner of Bigg Boss. My prediction would have been different had the voting mechanism been different. The way it worked, audiences had to vote to get people out of the house. If they'd had to vote to keep them in there, Ravi Kishen or Rakhi Sawant would have won.

Rahul's strategy was superb, and tailored to the voting mechanism, whether he intended that or not. He kept a low profile, fought with no one, and hardly spoke. Viewers hardly noticed him. They had no reason to either like or dislike him. This meant that when they had to vote, he didn't even come to their minds. They had no reason to vote him out.

This would have worked against him if they had to vote to keep people in the house. Rahul would have slipped through the cracks soon enough, as would Carol Gracias, who was the runner-up. Ravi Kishen and Rakhi Sawant would have thrived. They are the kind of flamboyant, outspoken people whom you can't help but notice, and who are much more likely to be strongly liked or disliked by people. This worked against them in a format where the viewers had to express their disapproval; it would have helped one of them win if the viewers had to vote to keep people in.

Indeed, Ravi could have won if the final showdown was between two people instead of three. (The viewers had to choose between Ravi, Rahul and Carol.) In that case, supporters of Ravi would simply have voted to get the other person out of the show. But the way it ended, Ravi's fans would effectively have to vote twice -- once each for Rahul and Carol -- to put Ravi one up. The costs of expressing their support was double what it would have been had the voting format been different, or had there only been two people left. The cost of casting a vote against him, on the other hand, was half of that.

In any case, I'm glad Rahul won, even though all his talk of God does make me cringe a bit. Over the weeks that I watched the show, he was the only person who didn't seem to be putting on an act for the cameras, and who managed to keep a sense of perspective about him. He never cracked, never showed any nerves, and rarely expressed any negative emotions towards anyone. Either he didn't feel any, in which case he's impossibly saintly, or he simply kept himself together in difficult circumstances. Good show.
amit varma, 11:18 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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