‘Aisi Ladki’ & ‘Flipper’: How Bigg Boss is Giving Us Language Gyan
“What does fixed deposit mean?”
On the weekend of 26 January 2020, as India celebrated its 71st Republic Day, the residents of the Nation of Bigg Boss were gripped by a different question. "What does the phrase’ fixed deposit’ mean? Is it derogatory?"
The question arose when a contestant on the show, TV actor Aarti Singh, broke down after being called a “fixed deposit” of another contestant, TV actor Siddharth Shukla. Upon hearing the accusation, Singh broke down in tears — after being told that the phrase is a metaphor for a "keep." (Another colonial term meaning "an old fashioned woman who is given a home and money by a man who she has a sexual relationship with, according to Macmillan dictionary.)
Other housemates reassured her that the word doesn't mean anything derogatory and is actually colloquially used to mean "a trusted friend." The debate found its way on Twitter, with tweeple even labelling other housemates as "variable deposits" and "multiple deposits."
Finally, a verdict on "fixed deposit" was declared by the show's host — and unofficial mediator of the many conflicts on the show — Salman Khan. In a Weekend Ka Vaar episode, Khan declared that "fixed deposit" was not a derogatory term. And so, arguably India's biggest reality show became the site of an etymological puzzle — and not for the first time in the current season.
Every season of Bigg Boss leaves a legacy — couples (and their hashtags) like Gauhar Khan-Kushal Punjabi, viral memes like "Pooja what is this behaviour?" and even prospective chief ministerial candidates, like Manoj Tiwari (a Bigg Boss contestant in season 4.) While there are always catchphrases associated with every season of Bigg Boss, this season's legacy seems to be specifically linguistic; with big conflicts in the show focused on words, what they mean and how they're used. Don't believe us? Here's a list.
‘Aisi ladki’ — two words which sparked a furore in the Bigg Boss house. A regular (for this show, anyway) argument between contestants Rashmi Desai and Siddharth Shukla blew up into a week-long furore when Shukla referred to Desai as "aisi ladki." When Desai asked him "kaisi ladkiyan hoti hai tere ghar mein?" Shukla responded with "aisi ladkiyan toh nahin." The phrase, used with gestures which were quickly interpreted as derogatory, implied that Desai was "not a good woman." Cue all the stereotypes that you've heard about bad women. For one whole week, all the contestants in the reality show debated what "aisi ladki" meant.
Was it an attempt at character assassination by Shukla? Made believable by the constant friction between the former rumored-to-be couple? Or was the meaning literal — as Shukla kept on insisting? As a result of the two words, Desai and her boyfriend-and-housemate Arhan Khan, got into one of the nastiest fights on the season, featuring torn T-shirts, dramatic flinging of the tea and almost-blows. (Physical fights are not allowed in the house, so all fights, are almost.)
Finally, Salman Khan stepped in; arguing that the gendered implications of the phrase "aisi ladki" were being blown out of proportion by Desai. The debate on Twitter, however, still rages on.
‘Nalla’ a Hindi slang which colloquially means ‘a useless fellow’ or a ‘waste fellow’ was used in Bigg Boss and became another flashpoint — this time, involving people outside the Bigg Boss house too. Model Asim Riaz and ‘Kaanta Laga’ girl Shefali Zariwala started off as good friends, but towards the end of the show, their friendship soured faster than you can say ‘frenemies.’ Soon, there were fights and loud shouting galore. When Parag Tyagi, Shefali's husband, visited the house as a part of a 'special task,' he admonished Asim.
After he left, in another argument, Asim Riaz said "aaya tha tera koi nalla" to Shefali, referring to Tyagi. When he saw the clip of that comment, Tyagi hit back with a not-so-veiled threat. On Twitter and Instagram.
If the word ‘flipper’ brings to your mind a beloved dolphin, you're probably thinking about the popular 1964 television series. But for a Bigg Boss viewer, the word ‘flipper’ means ‘someone who flips’ and is a label which is synonymous with Shehnaz Gill, a Punjabi actor, model and singer. Gill is accused by the housemates of ‘flipping’ from one 'team' within the house to another.
But is being a ‘flipper’ a good thing? Does it mean someone who has no loyalty? Or as Gill insists every time she encounters the label, does it mean someone who is ‘diplomatic’?
What does flipper mean, is a question that Raj Dixit, a TV journalist with ABP News, also attempted to answer. In a press conference episode in the Bigg Boss house, he compared being a ‘flipper’ to "bin pende ka lota." For the non-Hindi speakers reading this, it means ‘changing stands like a rolling stone.’ Gill's fans, a sizable army on Twitter, were not happy.
With less than ten days to go for the Bigg Boss finale, everyone wants to know who will win the show. But the way this season has played out, it could be possible that the ultimate legacy of Bigg Boss 13 is more than the winner — may be in the ‘fixed deposit’ we invested in the show?
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