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Reality Shows

By Shravya Lahiri
The room is not very well lit, you feel suffocated and cornered. Try as hard as you can, but there is just no appeasing the demons. As if one of them wasn’t good enough, there were two of them. The twin shiny bald heads don’t seem quite as amusing once their owners start to make you strip, dance, cry, beg, scream…
Why are thousands of people thronging to the auditions of a show that has captions like ‘Hell Down Under’ and ‘Shortcut to hell’? Why would you agree to make a fool out of yourself on national television and push your physical, mental and emotional limits to no end? Is it the money, the fame or just the opportunity to prove your worth? Though many participants cite the third, I guess it’s the cumulative enticement of the first two that makes many reality shows awfully attractive to today’s youth. 
Those of you who follow Roadies 8 would definitely know Dev, the guy who has been auditioning in every damn city, every year, for six years! Now what would you call him- crazy, obsessive, determined, or simply possessed?
Roadies is just one among the several reality shows that have consistently been gaining popularity since the last decade. Now several channels are literally inundated with as many reality shows as soaps. Reality shows came as a refreshing change to the average Indian television viewer, who had long become accustomed to tear jerker TV serials. The inspiring display of talent, the liberating sense of achievement, the acceptance of failure, the possibility of a world where you could be whoever you want to be- all this and more captured in a reality show makes people connect well to them. Several people get carried away and forget that these programs just show “a slice of life portrayed by people who simply act like they are expected to act.”
 Some old shows like KBC and Khulja Sim Sim (my favorites as a kid!) are actually quite amazing. They award the deserving (or the lucky) and are quite exciting to watch too. Also, reality shows based on talent like Jhalak Dhiklaja, Dance India Dance, Boogie Woogie, Indian Idol, India’s Got Talent, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge etc. provide a great platform to budding artists. But, I just wish they would tone down the drama a bit. Trying to show a romantic angle between participants, or judges screaming their heads off at each other or worse still, judges breaking down while praising a performance- there is no end to what they would do to add masala to the show and shoot up the TRPS. I’m not saying all of it made up, but there is no denying the fact that some of it is. I guess, as long as it is not overdone, it is good to watch.
Some of the adventure based reality shows like Khatron Ke Khiladi and Iss Jungle Se Mughe Bachao have quite a few takers. Personally, I would rather watch some crazy guy jump through a ring of fire or down a bowl of cockroaches than endure shows like Rakhi ka Swayamvar or Big Boss. It truly amazes me how pointless and pretentious some ‘reality’ shows can get!
What some shows portray as acceptable and maybe even ‘cool’ behavior is quite alarming. The more abusive, uncouth and twisted you are, the more attention you get and the better are your chances of winning. Young and impressionable people following such shows devotedly seem to think it is alright to back stab your competitors, manipulate others and use abusive language. Shows like Splitsvilla and Truth Love Cash show dating in such a nauseating angle! ‘Couples’ pledge their undying love after being on the show for 2 days and the double standards that most participants have/portray is beyond belief. 
Though not everyone might agree, many reality shows make it a point to choose only good looking people to be a part of the show. Now, how fair that is for a show based purely on your talent or your survival skills is definitely arguable. The producers should try to be unbiased and give a great platform to the most deserving candidates. Also, I never really got this concept of viewers voting to decide who wins a reality show. Isn’t it obvious that the guy with a bigger social circle and whose friends and family try hardest to scrounge votes from everywhere would win? Then the whole point of the show is lost!
Many Indian shows are total rip offs of foreign reality shows (Most of them have copyrights). I just wish they would choose better ones to copy. Maybe shows like While You Were Out, 30 Seconds To Fame, What Not To Wear, Whose Line Is It Anyway or Project Runway.
From the look of it, Reality shows are only going to get bigger, better and glitzier. Whether you love it or you hate it, brace yourselves- because Reality TV is here to stay!


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