Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Reality bites... and doesn't let go.

Reality shows today are the BIG things on TV.

For some reasons, companies who should know better, fall over each other to sponsor these shows.

Recent entrants have been, a show, "Rakhee ka Swayamwar" ( ~"The groom selection competition by Rakhee"), where a single woman , who in real life, actually specialises as an "item girl" in movies, kind of interviews and tests several eligible chaps through several episodes, and selects one. In keeping with the Indian ethos, future in laws also enter the picture, and are interviewed and allowed to interview the item girl, suddenly developing a blind eye to her dress sense, and a sharp eye to her earnings and publicity potential.

Then there are shows, where a bunch of young people, move around on motorcycles, (~"Roadies", "Splitsvilla", and other MTV style stuff), pitch tents , and perform stunts like jumping into rivers and swimming and retrieving things, climbing trees, dealing with insects and fighting and abusing other competitors etc, all the while, making a show of their skimpy clothes, and not so skimpy beepable vocabulary.

Currently, there is a show (~"The Perfect Bride"), where prospective brides , grooms,
along with mothers-in-law , (all of whom should be actually looking for honest jobs, or looking after their family folks), , completely waste time asking stupid questions and playing emotional games, simply creating problems.

And not to be outdone, there is a show now ,"Pati Patni aur woh" (~"Husband , Wife and Him/her") , that has a whole bunch of couples, looking after babies /toddlers, who don't belong to them, in an effort to allow people to judge their parenting capacities.

Notwithstanding the fact that none of the above methods for achieving the said goal, have any scientific basis , it has fallen to me, a simple unassuming middle class individual, to suggest some more reality shows, with possibly, a more authentic base.

1 . " Mujhe Jana hai "or in English, "I need to go" : The big advantage here is that they will not need any special fancy set, with outlandish furniture, and people in even more outlandish clothes. These locations are available all over Mumbai. Normally freely. But given the needs of those providing the facilities, there will a non trivial charge.

6 men and 6 women, some young, some old, and some with young children, will stay in one room, bathroomless ,waterless tenements in the Mumbai slums, for a fortnight. To start with, they will be provided with cheap oil for cooking, primus stoves, and a couple of buckets, pitchers, and tumblers. A few thin bedspreads. They will be filmed filling water everyday at a communal tap as they make their way in the early dawn, stepping carefully amidst prostrate drunks, and trash heaps. There will be honest closeups as they are abused by the local goons, and even more closeups if they deal with the goons.

The highlight of their stay on a daily basis, will be their approach and ability to use the communal bathrooms and toilets, managing priority amidst 60 other similar thinking residents. Physical assaults and use of undesirable language will dock marks off your final score. Ability to respect some one's genuine need, age and sex, will be considered a plus.

The episodes will be aired everyday at 8:30 pm, so other folks can watch at dinnertime. The sponsor company will give a free bathroom to the winner, and construct a free bathroom-toilet complex for the locality where this happens. Talks are on with a Mr Danny Boyle, for a role in his next Magnum Opus, "Flush Millionaire !"

2. "Oye ! Dikhta nahi Kya ?" or in English, "Oye! Cant you see?" : The interesting thing in this reality show is that you don't really need a set . But the producers will select one of Mumbai's numerous amazing and wondrous traffic-blessed roads, with splendid diversions and potholes.

6 men and 6 women , will be given police uniforms, and made to function as traffic cops from 8 am till 10 pm, regardless of the weather. There will be no brunch, lunch or tea breaks, although, it will be assumed that you are aware that small eateries in the area often feed the cops, gratis.

Each of the contestants will be given a receipt book. Pockets of each contestant will be examined and the contents noted, prior to the days outing. They will be free to stop anyone on the road, truck drivers, cars with tinted windows, motorcycles, even cows. Use of imagination in accusing ordinary folks on the road, of various traffic offences will be observed by the judges, who will come by , wearing uniforms and mafia sunglasses, and sit in jeeps with red lights. Whenever the contestants zero in on someone to catch, they are supposed to shout, "Oye ! Dikhta nahi hai, kya ?" Failure to do this may result in disqualification.

The contestant who can catch the maximum number of drivers in a week, will be declared winner for the week, and will earn an amount equal to 1000 times the fines he/she charged, less the amount found accidentally, of course, in his pocket.

There is a waiting list of contestants for the above...

3. "Kal Aa Jao" or "Come tomorrow" : This , reality show title, to issue an important clarification, is not an invitation. It's actually a way of avoiding or deflecting someone. "Go away" is what we said to the British. Within India, we say something else. Like the title of this show.

The participation here will be in groups of 3. Mother,father and child.

Each of the groups will compete in completing several things, like getting admission for their child in a neighboring school, buying essential grains and kerosene from the Public Distribution System Grain Shops, and visiting municipal offices for organizing a water tap connection for their locality/house.

There will be 6 groups. All will get a week to complete the above assignments. Each group will be given a starting fund of Rs 10,000 only, to be used "intelligently", and no questions will be asked.

Secret cameras will film the groups, and they will not know who the cameraman is, as he will change every day. This show will also test your knowledge of who your municipal representative is, how you approach him, present your case, and if need be, expose him.

The winner will be decided by, (a) whoever completes all 3 tasks successfully, (b) has maximum money left out of the discretionary fund of Rs 10,000 and (c) whoever makes the least noise about the whole thing.

The last precaution is required so that this reality show may have an unhindered run.

What remains now, is the question of judges and public voting.

While various names, like some leading actors, actresses, out-of-work cricketers, politicians and their sons and daughters are making the rounds, as likely judges, what is interesting is that the rush here, is for judging the last two suggested reality shows, having to do with cops and municipal facilities , and of course, importantly, the "discretionary fund" availability.

In the meanwhile, my old household help, who has been observing the current spate of nonsense reality shows about brides, grooms , mother-in-laws, and motorcycles, on TV, is leaving no stone unturned to be accepted as a a candidate for the first.

The individual prize, a personal family bathroom, is a huge attraction.

(Wish her luck......)


  1. Greg and I both don't like reality shows. It's drama, nothing but and isn't life filled with enough drama? I guess some people watch those shows because they want to feel as though their own personal drama is nothing in comparison to another person's issues?

    I like your suggestions though! Give them a "real" dose.

  2. We don't even have TV any more and I always hated reality shows! I generally have all the reality I need in my own life without watching it for entertainment! Never understood the fascination!

    Yeah, I'm in favor of giving them a "real" dose, too!

    Great post as always, Suranga!


  3. There are some reality shows I like. One is Bigg Boss. Simple because it is fun to see some real life drama. I don't get the channel but I catch it up once a while online. So many 'namoonas' under one roof.

    Other than that I don't watch any neither do I endorse shows where toddlers and babies are handed over to these so called celebs who have no clue about handling babies. Such parents should be put behind bars.

  4. Since I read a few months ago about a young boy who died while trying a stunt he saw on a reality show, MTV's "Roadies"- I am dead against them.

    Liked your suggestions, though, about giving them a dose of 'reality'!

  5. I once saw an episode of Roadies Rule. I don't mind any useless, mindless entertainment, but some like Perfect Bride and PP and Voh are actually harmful. Not yet seen, only speaking from reading about it in the blogosphere.

  6. There is enough reality outside my window for me. I hate reality shows and can't imagine why people waste time on them, but I must admit it would be fun watching 60 people jockey for the same bathroom. I am sure the gyrations of those in most need would elicit a laugh or two.

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  8. I have to admit I have watched a few reality shows but not many. Most of them are stupid. I do like Dancing with the Stars and think it is entertaining but the stuff like John and Kate Plus 8 that exploits their children and the Duggars that have 17 or 18 children and Octo Mom I can't stand and wonder why anyone would watch. Have a good weekend.

  9. Thank you everyone for your great comments. I hope the reality show types , at some point realize what reality actually is ........