Mumbai: You might hate her or love her, but you certainly cannot ignore Rakhi Sawant. Controversy's favourite child is back in the news again, this time as a challenger on the ongoing season 14 of Bigg Boss.
Rakhi, who was a contestant on season one of the show, has been there, done it all -- from fights to melodrama to crazy antics. She has always seemed like a perfect fit in the Bigg Boss house, a place where sanity is the last thing expected from contestants to make a mark.
There is a method to the madness, though. If Rakhi seems like she was made for the Bigg Boss madness, she probably prepared for this stage over the decades through a very eventful life that she has lead.
She started out as a dancer flaunting sultry moves in a string of music videos, and by the early 2000s, was counted among Bollywood's most wanted item stars. As item dances led to small roles in big films like Main Hoon Na (she did make an impact in a skimpy role in skimpier costumes), Rakhi also realised she had an innate sense of humour and gift of gab that the press simply liked to lap up.
She realised opening up about personal life in public led to instant drama and grabbed eyeballs. Being outrageous let you stay in the limelight, irrespective of whether the reason was right or wrong. By the time she entered Bigg Boss season one in 2006, she was already courting a bizarre brand of stardom -- she was a star without a starry Bollywood presence.
When her antics got her an invite on Koffee With Karan, she was a natural sizzler in the limelight the popular show provided.
Over the years, she has been a darling of the media thanks to her quotes ("Jo bhagvan nahin deta, who doctor deta hai," she once famously quipped about getting cosmetic surgery). When singer Mika kissed her at a birthday party, she claimed he had forcibly done so. The ensuing controversy kept her in the limelight for months (till this day, an overwhelmingly large number of Bollywood watchers insist the kiss was a publicity stunt). Years later, she would allege Tanushree Dutta had raped her at a "rave party".
Some of her bizarre statements include the one where she demanded to "ban ceiling fans to stop suicides" and the one where she said she is a virgin.
With Rakhi Sawant, sensationalism never runs out. Her behaviour on Bigg Boss naturally looks like she was born for the show.
Over the past decade and half she has added colour on every type of reality television -- from dance to comedy. The big bang, of course, has to be Rakhi Ka Swayamwar, the ‘reality wedding show' where she was supposed to go groom hunting.
The show ended with Rakhi picking one eligible guy (Elesh Parujanwala) as her life partner. For the record, 11 years after the show, Rakhi still remains unmarried. To top it all, she actually went on record to declare that she had pretended to choose a suitable boy for herself just to make some money.
If she has no qualms living her personal life out in the open, she also has no qualms "creating" a narrative of a personal life, as the wedding show underlined. Hardly anyone would have forgotten the instance when she slapped onetime boyfriend Abhishek Awasthi in front of media.
Over the years, there has been a lot of Rakhi Sawant Reality TV -- The Rakhi Sawant Showz, Pati, Patni Aur Woh, Rakhi Ka Insaaf, besides, of course, the Swayamwar gimmick.
Put together, these would seem like a training ground, for the uninhibited avatar that she today displays on Bigg Boss 14.
Along with throwing open her personal life for public consumption, Rakhi also knows how to grab attention with absurd claims -- about everything from getting botox and breast implants, to her experiences with the casting couch. Be it Prime Minister Narendra Modi today or Shah Rukh Khan in the past, she also always knows the right important person to constantly gush about.
She is a dancer. She is an imperfect heroine. She is a laughing stock. There are many avatars of Rakhi. She is also a one-time politician -- correction, onetime wannabe politician (remember she launched a party called Rashtriya Aam Party and then joined Republican Party of India (A)?).
All of the above can only be summed up in a line -- whenever she comes in the public eye, the audience anticipate the unpredictable to occur. Normally, she never lets them down.
When she entered Bigg Boss 14, she initially added laughter to the show with her jokes and wit. Gradually, however, she has opted for a different avatar. She is lately more in the news for her fights with Nikki Tamboli and Manu Punjabi.
As the show continues, let's see what other versions of Rakhi one gets to witness. It should be fun to look forward to.