When Sofia Hayat entered the Bigg Boss Saath 7 house, India, a country normally polemic in its opinions, finally united and had one reaction: “Sophia who?” Fortunately we can provide you with the answer.
How can we forget the recent speed dating episode of Bigg Boss, in which Sofia speed dated all the men in the house and then determined a winner? (Of what? We don’t know. It’s safe to say that in the Bigg Boss house, everyone is a loser.) But you may ask what qualifies Sofia to be a good judge of men and their general dateability. Well, it might have something to with the most important span of her TV career so far: when she was the judge for the Bindass show Superdude 2.
Legend has it that somewhere between 2007 and 2009 was the year of Ashmit Patel. Who is Ashmit Patel? Patel is the Sajid Khan of television: the only redeeming qualities in both men is that they have sisters who are talented. This allowed Patel to become the fixed scum at the bottom of the murky pond of Indian reality television. After a love-making session of him and Riya Sen (who always looks like she’s just seconds away from taking a nap) was leaked as a MMS, he became a Bigg Boss inmate in Season 4.
This was when he ‘romanced’ Pakistani comedian and bombshell Veena Malik in front of the whole nation and entertainment journalists everywhere finally had a chance to use the headline, “Sleeping with the enemy”. Thanks to this array of talent, Patel was given his own show called Superdude, because a man who tries to hook up with a woman and does not get beaten off for being creepy is apparently the pinnacle of the minimum requirement for dude-ness.
The show was based on the American show The Pick Up Artist, in which 13 chosen men were trained in the art of picking up women. Its premise was as creepy as Superdude, but at least it featured men who seemed more vulnerable and suffered from genuine problems like being nervous around the opposite gender. Superdude eliminates the only humane part of the show by giving us a lineup of 13 men whose most endearing quality is that they don’t have police records (yet).
Now, in spite of Patel’s inherent (ahem) sexiness, putting him with 13 men in the same frame meant that the set of Superdude was going to be a sausage fest. It only struck the producers in the second season that in order to learn how to impress women, it might not be a bad idea to have an actual woman on the show. So Sofia Hayat joined Patel on the show as a judge and the past and future of Bigg Boss met in the most fatalistic way. Hayat played the wild, sexy woman to the other woman judge, Madura Naik who was seemingly the demure yet sexy woman. This means that the aspiring ‘dudes’ would only learn how to interact with women who were ‘sexy’. Who needs to talk to girls who don’t have cleavages that start at their chin?
To underscore the wild, sexiness of her character, Hayat constantly dressed in animal prints. Because she was, you guessed it, wild. Like a cheetah, or a leopard or a zebra. Like those animals, she did not believe in straps. Every outfit depended on the buoyancy of her chest to stay up. For someone who has taken massive offence at Ejaaz taking off his shirt in front of other members of the house, she barely wears anything herself through this show.
Her biggest line in the series was, “You’re a bad, bad boy” delivered at least once every episode, in different tones. With other reality shows there’s always some specific objective. Like, win this and you’ll get to marry someone or get a lot of money or be the one cousin that everyone in the family talks about as a ‘success’ in Indian television. With Superdude, there was no such specificity.
Thus the producers of Superdude gleefully made up tasks where contestants had to work jobs like shoe salesmen and their task was to get the girl to allow them to give her a foot massage. Or get a woman to agree to go on a dinner date with them, while they’re just walking around a mall minding their own business. And my personal favorite is when they made all the aspiring dudes walk a line in a pair of six-inch heels. Then Hayat eliminated the boys on the basis of the fact that they’re not being ‘real’, when that’s the last thing that she could say about at least 50% of her own body.
This past experience is the reason I think Bigg Boss chose Sofia to be the judge of the “speed dating” exercise. Candy Brar (even though she has been named after edible underwear) and Gauhar Khan have already had Kushal; Tanisha and Arman’s romance seems to be going strong; Kamya wouldn’t do it because she’s married and Pratusha wouldn’t do it (coz Kamya wouldn’t do it. D’uh!).
With Sofia Hayat, I think they were trying to find her co-host for the next season of Superdude, who no doubt is going to be a Bigg Boss Saath 7 contestant. Because on Indian television, much like in the the Hindu concept of reincarnation, past, present and future are all part of one big cycle.