What should one expect from Aseem Trivedi on the reality show "Bigg Boss 6"? "Not entertainment for sure," says the controversial activist and cartoonist, who hopes to use the platform to spread his message on anti-corruption.
"I am not an entertainer. I am not going to the show for providing any entertainment," Trivedi, who was jailed on charges of sedition in Mumbai last month and is out on bail, told IANS in a telephonic interview before he stepped into the "Bigg Boss" house last Saturday.
"I believe viewers want to watch things other than entertainment on TV. Aamir Khan's show 'Satyamev Jayate' was a serious show, it wasn't to entertain. But people watched it. A huge chunk of people want to watch serious issues too," he added.
The 25-year-old, an activist associated with India Against Corruption (IAC) and founder of anti-corruption campaign Cartoons Against Corruption, says he hardly gets time to watch TV shows and Bollywood movies. But he was tempted to be a part of "Bigg Boss 6" solely to "talk to the masses".
"I believe a lot of people watch this show and I wanted one chance to talk to the masses, to the people of India. I want to use the medium to drive the message of anti-corruption to every home," said the activist, who sports messy long locks and a bearded look.
He was locked up in jail for three days last month on charges of sedition for drawing cartoons insulting Indian emblems and the constitution during Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement in Mumbai in December 2011. The charges haven't been dropped yet, and Trivedi will be locked inside the "Bigg Boss 6" house with 14 strangers for 98 days, followed by 70 cameras.
Strange, isn't it?
"It is a normal thing for me. I am an activist, I am always on the move, and meeting strangers is a way of life for me. I am getting this platform on national television and I will continue my activism there.
"People have tried to stop me from making cartoons highlighting corruption, but they will not succeed. I am sure even the sedition charges against me will be dropped soon," said Trivedi, who hails from Kanpur.
He will miss his family for sure, but making new cartoons is what he would miss most.
"I won't have a pen or paper inside, neither will I have books or Facebook, through which I conduct a lot of my activism. But on the brighter side, I have such a huge medium, the show and the television, to keep my activism to get support against corruption on," he said.
And he plans to raise his voice even if there are any unscrupulous activities in the "Bigg Boss 6" house, which he feels is a perfect example of how politicians should be treated - with cameras tapping their actions and mics recording their voice 24X7.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)