The Indian Reality Shows Rant

Yesterday, I was flipping through some channels and something caught my eye on Colors TV. Indian version of a talent show that has its format owned by Simon Cowell and Syco was on. I put down my remote and decided to give it a go.

In that one hour (including ads between segments), I saw five minutes of a couple of actors trying to promote the heck out of their upcoming movie, five minutes of two TV hosts doing gags that made me cringe, ten minutes of actual talent acts by some skilled folks, and twenty, twenty freaking minutes of judges scrounging personal lives of the contestants and making those poor souls cry.

Needless to say, it was outrageous. I have nothing against those judges, those hosts. They’re pretty talented in their own right. They know how to entertain Indian masses and that is alright. But this exploitation of the artists, man, it sucks.

If a guy is talented, it is regardless of his background, caste, color, or whatever place he is from. Yes, everyone loves an underdog story, or story of a person who rose above all odds to win, but what I saw on television yesterday wasn’t this; instead it was an intentional and condemnable display of digging into personal lives of people and making them cry on national television.

I am not targeting this show in general. I am not even targeting the format. Heck, it is seriously entertaining to watch all those artistic folks to perform at such a level. But the drama factor totally ruins it for me.

It is heartwarming to see such stories every once in a while but in every act, every single act, seriously?

And this show isn’t the only example of it. Almost all Indian reality shows in the recent memory follow this suit. Someone performs on stage, gets good comments, a judge asks something about that person’s personal life, and BAM. Everyone starts crying. And I am not even going into how some shows conjure up fake stories for the participants to spice things up; or how they purposely ask unskilled contestants to go out there, tune their personalities all the way up to eleven, and be over-the-top so that judges can roast them and producers get entertaining content for their show.

An industry source says, ‘Most reality shows are rigged and the contestants are told what to do. Production houses go to any extent to get the maximum TRPs for their shows. Sadly, there’s no element of reality. Everything is stage-managed.’ – Mid-day, March 2015

Keep in mind that I am not going like, ‘Hey, Indian reality shows have no standards! We’re crap. Shows produced oversees are way sophisticated than us.’ There have been a lot of good Indian reality shows too that focused on the talent aspect (early Boogie-Woogie, early Sa-Re-Ga-Ma-Pa, et al), and there is a plethora of hilariously bad reality shows on American and British television, but most of the overseas talent shows do the drama thing to a certain point. I mean, they don’t associate every act with a sob story, and if there is one, that segment can be skipped. But when the entire-freaking-show goes around sob stories, what is there to skip, or watch?

We need to raise the bar up for Indian reality shows and it is about time that we do so. We need more reality shows that focus on talents and skills rather than the shows that exploit people for the sake of ratings. Else the people who actually want to deal with some quality entertainment will be forced to create and bear with such cringe-fests.

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