11.07.2006

Reality bites

The whole of this weekend I spent in front of the TV watching what is popularly known as “Reality” shows. Dance shows, live like a family shows, song shows and what not! You can take your pick from Saregama or Nach Baliye or Jhalak Dikhlaja or Big Boss etc. Where the first one tries to give a platform for budding singers all the others are only centered on celebrities. These shows have become so popular that they have replaced the gisa-pita saas-bahu soap discussions in the steamy (cooker da) kitchen banter! Bored aunties now have some exciting, adrenaline-pumping stuff to talk about. And please note that am still only talking about Aryan Vaid’s muscle show, Rakhi Sawant’s errr show, Malaika Arora’s one-pieces defying gravity, born not to perform couples lunging at each other in a dance or shocker Mona Singh winning a contest in true Jassi (underdog wins in the end) style.

Nach Baliye and Jhalak have people vying for the top spot in dancing abilities. While the former has married or to-be-married couples pairing up the latter has singles. Its a good platform for the budding choreographers but somewhere along the line it becomes all about the glamour, nakras and jatkas of the dancers and the choreographers only show their jhalak briefly. One whistle from Saroj Khan who is a judge on Nach Baliye and the participants dissolve into tears of gratitude as if their long tapas has finally borne fruit. But at least these days the ousted contestants are not creating a wail-y mess but are gaily moving on. On Jhalak we have three very cordial bored judges with their best smiles pasted on their faces. Can’t blame them for they have to judge dances of people who have never moved a leg side wards in their lives (barring one). And then you have to put up with the artificial sense of ohhh-losing-the-crown atmosphere created by the anchors.

Till recently I did not really understand the concept of a live-in show. On my trips to Germany I used to see a reality show which had a bunch of young people living in a house together day after day without the slightest corner of privacy. There were cameras everywhere including the bathrooms! I was a little shocked (blame it on the conservative brain) to even make any sense of why anyone would take part in it. And the show being totally in German did not help my understanding much. It was only when I saw a similar show on Indian television did I get enlightened.
The father of all reality shows has around 13 celebrities locked in a house with no outside access. Their antics beamed around the nation. Ofcourse they are all there for the money! The people on the show seem to be so contrived that you can almost see them peeling off their masks when they go to bed. While some of them are showing off their assets to best camera advantage (oh yeah they are completely aware of where those are placed), there are some who are try to woo you (the audience) all the time brightly chirping, there are a few who look and feel lonely and lost and there are others who act like mother hens!! All of them know they are playing to the gallery and they also need the money. They have to make a pretty picture with all the others while also voting in secret to eliminate the others one by one. It’s not that easy with the entire nation watching!

News channel NDTV became trendsetters with Big Fight and We the People where the common man is given a podium and a mike and an answerable set of people. This is getting drawn into the realm of entertainment also with reality shows. Its not too far when the show directors will air their shows live and The Truman Show will also become a reality!

I have a feeling we are in the renaissance period of entertainment where shows are about oneself and not some character one is portraying.
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