Reality shows in India, taking television by storm

Posted: September 2, 2008 in General
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Ever wondered what makes Indian television channels so very popular, especially in the subcontinent? Some part of it is credited to the massive hits that Indian soap operas were but now the soap viewership has slightly shifted to the reality shows. Women were crazy about Tulsi or Parvati and wept whenever their hubbies left them for another woman but now they weep when their favorite singer or favorite jodi is voted out of a reality show. The shift might be due to several reasons. One reason might be that the soap stars could be seen in the reality shows which are more up close and personal while the other could be the emotional value attached to these shows.

It was an article on by an Indian writer Shweta Sawhney that caught my attention. It read, “Anything that strikes the emotional chord is an instant hit in our country. The reason for this is that we Indians are high on the emotional quotient and every Indian (even the most practical one) has an emotional soul hidden somewhere.”

The craze for reality television hit India when a talent show started for Viva – band of five girls. When the auditions were announced, young dreamers gathered in huge numbers to give their luck a try. They cried when they failed, celebrated when they triumphed. The show was a big success and an inspiration for both the shrewd business minds and also for the young dreamers waiting for their share of fame.

Since then there has been no looking back as reality television proliferated. With the registration for each show surpassing the last one and the audience votes pouring in billions, all doubts over the acceptability of these shows by the Indian audience were cleared. The real life Bunty and Bablis came forward for the auditions of Indian Idol, Fame Gurukul, Roadies, Voice of India etc. With the result that almost every channel today has an Abhijeet Sawant and a Qazi to boast about!

With the success of such shows, celebrities stepped in for their piece of the pie and gave TV viewers something more to look forward to. Apart from the overwhelming Television Rating Points (TRPs) that these shows command, they have also revamped images of some celebrities and brought back to limelight some of the lost stars. Item queen Rakhi Sawant witnessed a change in image after appearing on the reality show, Big Boss. Prachi Desai, Mir Ranjan Negi, Akashdeep and Mona Singh underwent a complete image makeover through their show Jhalak Dikhla Ja. Lost names like Rahul Roy, Anupama Verma, Deepak Tijori and Baba Sehgal rose to limelight again because of these shows.

Then, looking at the same stars that made you cry in the soaps is an added attraction for the television lovers. Mihir from Kyunke Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi fame was a contestant in Jhalak Dikhla Ja, Prerna from Kasauti Zindagi Ki was a contestant in Nach Baliye, Sumit from Kumkum was a contestant in second season of Nach Baliye while Jassi from the famous Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin won the first season of Jhalak Dikhla Ja. Of course, with these household names in reality shows, the TRPs get a massive boost.

Ronit Roy (Mihir) and Shweta Tiwari (Prerna) are now judges on a dance show Aaja Mahi Ve. Hussain (Sumit) and Mona Singh (Jassi) hosted the next seasons of the shows they won. The other host for Jhalak Dikhla Ja was Rohit Roy who participated in the first season of Nach Baliye. The same goes for the aspiring singers who became a household name due to their performances in Indian Idol or Voice of India. Rahul Vedya from the first season of Indian Idol and the winner of recently held show Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar is hosting Aaja Mahi Ve while Abhas from Voice of India 1 hosted the Voice of India Chhote Ustaad. The couple Kashmira and Krishna who lost Nach Baliye’s third season won Kabhi Pyaar Kabhi Yaar recently aired on television. While Bakhtiar Irani, Manish Goel, Delnaz, Vikas Sethi, Gaurav Chopra and Narayini, all have lost in Nach Baliye’s different seasons are now competing each other in Zara Nachke Dikha. Even the most in-demand son and daughter-in-law of Indian soaps, Hiten Tejwani and Gauri Hiten (Karan and Nandini from Kyunke Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahut Thi) after losing Nach Baliye 2 participated in Kabhi Pyaar Kabhi Yaar. Of course, they lost it too because the duo can’t dance so well… it’s just the popularity factor they both share on television screen. Too much presence on screen makes them a bigger celebrity and a household name. The actors who were once known by their famous characters now have their own identity, separate from their characters on screen.

The Indian TV stars are continuously climbing the fame stairs, first through their famous soaps and then through these reality shows. People who adore them in dramas want to see the personal side of these actors and the reality shows help them achieve that. People wanted to see how Ronit Roy, also known as Amitabh Bachchan of small screen, treats his choreographer when she got injured during a practice session of Jhalak Dikhla Ja. How Shweta Tiwari’s reacted to the injury of her husband because of which she had to leave the competition in the middle. Everyone from the judges to the contestants to the audience sobbed for her. Sudha Chandra, who has a wooden leg, was another woman attracting a lot of audience attention on the show Jhalak Dikhla Ja because people wanted to see how she carries her body throughout the performance.

Another major link to our television reality shows is of Bollywood. It’s a give and take relation between the big and small screen. Bollywood stars have started appearing on these reality shows to promote their upcoming movies and the television shows get a boast with every Bollywood celebrity. Madhuri Dixit and Shahrukh Khan appeared on Nach Baliye to promote Aaja Nachle and Om Shanti Om respectively. Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, John and Bipasha Basu went on promoting their Saawariya and Goal in Jhalak Dikhla Ja while Rani Mukherjee and Kunal Kapoor took Laga Chunri Main Daag to Voice of India. The trend continues till today when recently the Bachna Ae Haseeno stars went to Aaja Mahi Ve, Dus ka Dum and Zara Nachke Dikha to promote their movie. And, Aamir Khan along with his nephew Imran Khan visited Salman Khan in Dus ka Dum to reveal bits about Jaane Tu Ya Jane Na.

Of course, with every Bollywood star stepping onto the small screen the ratings go up. For the big screen stars, they take their movie to the remotest of areas where newspapers might not reach but television is widely watched.

We still can’t comment that reality shows are here for a small period or will stay longer but no matter what we say these shows are the biggest source of entertainment. One gets to watch their favorite stars, lots of music and dance along with lots of emotions just in one show. It is bound to create waves amongst the television industry.


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