Arts & Culture

Reality TV

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reality-shows-in-indiaREAL FUN!

By Tanya Agarwal

A seventy year old man forced to admit to having slept with a prostitute as his tense wife and daughter look on, Rakhi Sawant fluttering her eyes at the camera and accusing participants in her Swyamvar of playing with her delicate heart, Gauhar Khan bursting into tears and piling all the blame for her bad dancing on her hapless choreographer… if you condemn such harmless, albeit theatrical entertainment and say it debases popular taste, then you’re just a puffed up snob who hasn’t yet tried watching the said shows, conveniently assuming that it’s for those with low intellect and no one but the likes of Udita Goswami to look to for amusement.

The supposedly blatant unreality of reality television creates the most unlikely situations and the reaction of the various pseudo celebrities featured in these shows is pure entertainment. It is precisely this that keeps even the cerebral people glued to shows like ‘Big Boss’ and ‘Sach Ka Saamna’. High brow attitudes are out of vogue and society sees no harm in being entertained by any kind of entertainment at all nowadays. Reality shows are the symbols of the age of mass culture that we live in today.

We are so accustomed to the petty dramas of everyday life that they’re no longer of much interest to us anymore. The lives of people like Manmohan Tiwari and Abhijeet Sawant played out on national television therefore, comes as a refreshing change, presenting us with a peek into a world exotically different from our monotonous, scheduled existence. It is amazing fun to watch celebrities on TV and find out how they actually are in real life and whether they truly live up to their typecast roles. It also funny to hear Anu Malik, the architect of songs like “do me a favour, let’s play holi” and “oonchi hai building”, pretend to be a connoisseur of music and dole out advice to participants. Once in a while, it’s good to just go with the deception and sit back and enjoy.

Reality shows not only keep us entertained but they are also a great platform for those with aptitude and willingness to work hard. These shows can be credited with churning out some pretty great talent, examples being Sunidhi Chauhan and Sonu Nigam – both hugely successful singers.

In the end, we are after all, a democracy. Neither is anyone compelled to participate in these shows, nor is anyone obliged to watch them. So cheers to those who can afford to step down from their high ground and appreciate some mindless fun, and to the rest, live and let live, people!


By Aina Mathew

If on one channel you have old men jumping up and cracking coconuts with their heads in the name of entertainment, on another rival one you get chubby little toothless girls prancing around dressed as bais, all to instigate laughter. While Shah Rukh tackles fifth graders, Salman has roti-making competitions with Mallika Sherawat. At absolutely no time of the day can you channel-surf without coming across at least ten reality shows featuring complete madcap behaviour. The idiot box is truly living up to its name these days.

With the overwhelming number of reality shows flooding our TV screens, you’d think we’d get to see fascinating, inventive programmes with something new being offered each day. On the contrary, almost all these shows are rip-offs of popular western shows. ‘Indian Idol’ is an exact copy of ‘American Idol’; ‘Is Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao!’ follows in the footsteps of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’; ‘Sach Ka Saamna’ is modeled exactly along the lines of ‘The Moment of Truth’ and so on and so forth, until originality, much less sense is the last thing you’d associate with Indian television. The format is the same, the rules are the same, and everything is the same except the quality, which falls dreadfully below tolerance levels. Our answer to Simon Cowell’s sharp, witty remarks is the sad shayari of Anu Malik who, by the way, takes up more footage than the participants themselves with his histrionics. While western audiences are left shaken by the candid confessions of participants on The Moment of Truth, we have to contend with the ramblings of retired cricketers. Why would anyone want to subject themselves to such torture?

I fail to understand why the producers of all these nutty programmes classify them under reality TV. Whether it’s a stand up comedy competition or a game show or a singing contest, it all eventually turns into a K-serial anyway. Drama, suspense, romance – name it and you have it. All the elements of an Ekta Kapoor hit are intrinsic to every “reality” show that have graced Indian television sets. More than their singing abilities, endurance levels or dancing skill, the talent that always comes out best among participants is their acting. With every elimination, rivals who couldn’t stand being in the same room without a torrent of beeps renting the air turn into friends for life who drown themselves in tears of remorse. Thanks to “reality” TV, our desi Pamela Anderson has turned into a blushing, demure sati savitri who gets a heart attack every time a potential husband so much as brushes against her little finger. If this is all the reality that TV can offer, I’d rather just revert to the saas bahu serials, thank you very much.

In conclusion, reality TV is a complete waste of time and energy. If anyone gains from these shows, it’s the medicine industry that now has a bigger market for headache pills and those resuscitated stars of yesteryears who can finally stop selling water purifiers and scream at wannabe dancers instead.

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