Bigg Boss Malayalam in a row after ex-contestant alleges harassment by Asianet employees

Without taking names, Bigg Boss Malayalam’s last season winner Akhil Marar accused certain individuals in Asianet’s senior management of exploitation, extortion, and sexual harassment.
Mohanlal, Akhil Marar
Mohanlal, Akhil Marar
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Bigg Boss Malayalam Season 6 (BBMS6), hosted by actor Mohanlal, has gotten into controversy once again after the previous season’s winner Akhil Marar made serious allegations against Asianet, the television channel that broadcasts the show, and production company Endemol Shine. In an Instagram live posted on April 28, Akhil Marar accused some of the showrunners of exploitation, extortion, and casting couch. Following this, two women shared their negative experiences with Bigg Boss Malayalam and Asianet’s senior management on social media. 

The immediate trigger for Akhil’s allegations was the eviction of DJ Sibin, a contestant in the ongoing season, from the Bigg Boss house. After his exit, Sibin had alleged that the showrunners forced him to leave citing mental instability and that he had no role in the decision. In response, Akhil lashed out at BBMS6, accusing members of Asianet’s senior management of manipulating the show to suit their whims and fancies. 

Without taking names, Akhil said that certain individuals with decisive power over the show had taken advantage of many contestants, especially women, including seeking sexual favours in exchange for a chance to enter the show. He added that many members of the show, such as the project head and the creative head, had been dropped from season 6 because they did not agree with the intentions of the said individuals.

“They have previously exploited a large number of contestants, especially women, and even taken away a share of their remuneration,” Akhil alleged. He also claimed that the makers of the show attempted to portray Sibin as a “mentally unstable” contestant and administered him with medications for psychological conditions like “depression and bipolar illness” while he was on the show. A day after the video was posted, Akhil appeared in a YouTube interview, elaborating on his claims, and stating that he has a few chats and voice notes in which many former contestants attest to his allegations.

In the interview, Akhil also gave hints about the people in Asianet he was referring to. He said that one of them was accused of sexual harassment by an ex-employee of the channel. However, he cleared host Mohanlal of any involvement, stating that the superstar had no stake in any of this.

Akhil’s allegations raised controversy about the show, with several ex-contestants including women, demanding proof. While some of them acknowledged that the show is exploitative without going into details, many others said that Akhil’s statements about the harassment put them in a bad light and that he must clarify his accusations to clear the air. 

In the meantime, two women came forward on social media and shared their negative experiences with Bigg Boss Malayalam and Asianet’s senior management. One woman said in a video that though she wanted to participate in Bigg Boss, she did not know how to get in. “I reached out to a friend of mine in the media regarding this, and the channel informed me that I would need to make some adjustments, possibly in the form of money or sexual favours. I stopped trying to go on the show after that,” she alleged.

The other woman said on her Instagram live that she had auditioned to be on Bigg Boss Malayalam and had made it to the final round of the process. She alleged that the questions posed in the audition were inappropriate and superfluous and that she believes she was not chosen because she did not cosy up to the panel. She also added that one of the interviewers, an Asianet employee, used to call and message her at odd hours and for no apparent reason. She also posted a few screenshots of this person's messages. 

BBMS6 has been garnering attention for all the wrong reasons from the beginning, including homophobic remarks made by a contestant named Abhishek Sreekumar and the physical assault on Sijo John by his fellow contestant Asi Rocky, who was later removed from the show.  

When TNM reached out to a senior ranking official at Asianet for a response, he said that the show has always been embroiled in such controversies. “Bigg Boss is always prone to controversy in whichever language the show is run in. Furthermore, in this day of social media, anyone can say anything. We don’t have time to address every accusation against us, and we also don’t have any plans to do so,” he clarified.

On May 2, Akhil Marar did another Instagram live, saying he had learned that Disney Hostar, the OTT platform streaming Bigg Boss Malayalam 24x7, has decided to form an internal inquiry committee to probe the allegations against Asianet’s senior management.

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