The just-concluded 14th season of Bigg Boss was a recap of sorts, bringing back past contestants who had gone out of the limelight in recent years. The reality show is often referred to as a resort for ‘out-of-work’ celebrities, though popular television personalities have also participated to test their luck. Bigg Boss has also acted as a buoy to fuel dimming careers in showbiz.
Take for example, the very first winner, Rahul Roy. The Aashiqui star was pretty much out of sight before Bigg Boss brought him back, and he managed to win this unique reality show which Indian viewers were watching for the first time in 2006.
Ravi Kishan, Rakhi Sawant and Amit Sadh were some other contestants who grabbed attention on Season 1. Rakhi attained drama queen status and Bhojpuri film star Ravi Kishan achieved mainstream fame. Amit Sadh graduated to films from television some years later.
Although she had already gained fame with her item numbers, Bigg Boss gave her a renewed fan following who loved that Rakhi was as much a drama queen in real life too. She proved she wasn’t afraid of stirring up controversies and engaging in shouting matches on national TV. Her Bigg Boss stint landed her several other reality show offers, like Nach Baliye and Rakhi Ka Swayamvar.
She proved once again that she is ready to go to any extent to entertain when she returned to the house in Bigg Boss 14. From emotional breakdowns to unabashed hitting on a married fellow contestant, Rakhi showed that she still knows how to play the game.
“I wanted to make a comeback and my career was down. Bigg Boss gave me a second (chance)... Everyone goes through ups and downs and I got that push from here. I am so happy that I will be able to do something now,” she said after stepping out of the house.
Television’s popular bahu was seen in a whole new avatar when she stepped into the Bigg Boss house for Season 4. Her fights with co-contestant Dolly Bindra made headlines. Viewers saw a gritty Shweta who stood her ground and faced all questions about her personal and professional troubles. Despite the mud-slinging, Shweta never played the game dirty. She became the first woman to win the contest.
She was a wild card entry in Season 5 (2011). Fresh off the boat, Sunny generated huge interest as a former porn star making her way into Bollywood. Bigg Boss acted as a platform for her to gain familiarity among the domestic mainstream audience and she landed a film offer from Mahesh Bhatt. She won hearts with her broken Hindi and smiling demeanour. Sunny launched a full-fledged Bollywood career post her eviction, starring in several films, item numbers and reality shows in the past 10 years.
Gauahar Khan kicked off her career in showbiz as a model, walking for top designers in the country. She had also tried her hand at TV show hosting and bit roles in films, but her real breakthrough came with winning Bigg Boss season 7. She had just delivered the hit song Jhalla Wallah and curiosity around her was quite high.
Gauahar beat strong contenders like Tanishaa Mukerji, Armaan Kohli, Kamya Panjabi and Sangram Singh to bag the winning trophy. The win led to wider recognition for her with increased film and television offers. Her popularity has sustained, which led to Gauahar’s return to the show last year as a Toofani senior with Hina Khan and Sidharth Shukla.
Hers is a unique story of cashing in on the Bigg Boss fame without even landing the winner’s spot. Hina Khan was a docile TV bahu until fans saw her feisty side on Bigg Boss 11, earning her the moniker ‘Sher Khan’. While Shilpa Shinde walked away with the winner’s trophy, Hina gained unprecedented fame and a complete image makeover. She is one of the most popular TV faces today, leading to a diversity in the roles offered to her in the past few years. Besides being one of the Indian television's highest paid actresses in 2015 and 2016, Hina has made a Cannes appearance, acted in films, started a production company and gained immense social media following.
“Bigg Boss helped change my image completely. When I came out, I got to know that had become this fashion icon... I make sure that I present a different side of me every time. I work very hard on every look on social media,” she said in an interview last year.
Talking about returning to the show on Season 14, Hina said, “The best part about returning to the show this season was that I was introduced alongwith two other winners – Gauahar Khan and Sidharth Shukla. That was quite overwhelming. They made sure they give me that credit that I was no less than a winner.”
He is probably the biggest success story of Bigg Boss so far. Up until Bigg Boss, Sidharth was known to the larger audience as the good guy from Balika Vadhu and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. He shed his nice man image on Bigg Boss and played the game the way you’re supposed to. Viewers lapped up his desirable side, linking him with women in the house.
His fan following did not waver despite angry outbursts and criticism for rude behavior. Rather, it seemed all that he did sealed his position as the winner even more. In the past year since his big win, the actor has kept up the momentum with music video and social media appearances, multiple reality shows and will make his web series debut soon.