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Friday, May 20, 2011

Start camera, ACTION!!! ----UNREAL things in the REAL frame...

What is the ‘REALITY’ in reality shows? 

By: Arjun.R.Shankar

Gone are the days of soap operas and saas bahu serials. The people of this country irrespective of their living backgrounds, cultural cachets, status watched them zealously and appreciated them, so were the actors whom the Indian households exhilaratingly accepted and associated them with their family and treated them as kin. Very often they were exalted and inebriated for their phenomenal acting prowess. The channels were engaged in usual rat races and scurrying for increasing their ratings and the level of profits. In all sense the programmes were ruling the roost. And it was actor’s right time.

But with the passage of time the western programmes had greatly influenced the channels to start a similar wave in the country at least on a trial basis. The channels understood that only a change could break the slots and rolls of serials and they were absolutely right in thinking that way. The new branded programme ‘REALITY SHOW’ was the new product to be sold and was the right choice and it really outdid the soap operas. The euphoria created was inexplicable and unfathomable. Within a small gap the shows had taken a front seat. People became mad about the performances as the whole concept was fresh and scintillating. And the organizers pompously termed the whole endeavor as a branded platform to express ones hidden talent and potential.  These shows from the front angle have innumerable success stories and acclaims. But has anyone thought about the pulse of backstage happenings?

The reality shows have produced many worthy stars, but the people very often forget the unnoticed victims of such shows. There is no discrimination to avail the ‘Victim badge’ the victor and the vanquished of the show both can claim that. There are many examples of winning victims of reality shows. We should understand and acknowledge the fact that there are numerous families in the country who are now in a strong debt trap due to these reality shows. This is the same country that has witnessed innumerable farmers and workers stuck in the cobweb of money lenders. But in the modern time, history repeats for different reasons.  The victims of the show have pooled their money for success and we know that there is only one winner. The looser looses all his morale and is pushed into the state of perpetual dejection. A close friend of the author lost a sum of Rs.4 lakhs in a Dance reality show. He was shown the EXIT Door at the 6th round. The ardent participants of the shows include small children to even grandmothers.

The only thing, rather an advantageous line of argument put forward is regarding the ‘Grand Opportunity and instant fame’ which they claim to give to the participants something in return for humiliation, mockery and even assassinating their character in the name of ‘TRANSFORMATION OF ETHOS’ by many of them who itself are a contradiction to Civilized Beings. There is an ethical and moral Line of Control to every actions, talks and deliberations. But many of the judges and related persons actions fail to justify the acts in the name of fun and character moulding and cross the Line of Control. There is a limit to fun. There are exceptions to all this. There are good and really qualified judges whose acts are directed for the well being of the participants. Many of these stupid notions are passed on to the people.

 In many shows the people grossly humiliate the participants with their hasty and perfunctory comments and slanderous remarks. Anything cannot be tolerated in the name of fun. As television is an important medium, such vulgar comments, harassment will go down the lowest ebb of the society inspiring a lot of children and others, who in turn will think that this is the best and ultimate thing, and that will create a thirst in many of them to take many of these stupid things for stardom and fame. Children and others should be guided always by good examples and illustrations. Many forget that all the instant fame, reputation, celebrity status, autograph seeking fans which they give is the different avatar of ‘Bubble Reputation.’
People of this country loves such shows, so anything worth entertainment should not be denied to the people and taking a hasty step against such shows would be ‘Tughlaq Move’. What about the plight of the small children paraded in the shows? They face mad competition at a very tender age and they hear nasty comments. At a larger level it has become a battle between the parents. There is certainly a limit to torturing children in the name of fame and money.

The biggest thing to be kept in mind is regarding the extent of profit these channels extract. The amount is humongous and staggering and as company tagline says “it’s beyond imagination”. The money which the channel gets after 4 or 5 episodes is more than enough to give the entire prize money of the show. The rest of the episode year round is profit. The question we should ask is “who is the real and ultimate winner”? The answer is never a contestant. The real champions are the channel, producers, advertisers, and the mobile companies who work meticulously with precision.  Should the participants pay a heavy price for such Bubble fame?

In many of the programmes, a large chunk of the participants come from the low income categories or poor backgrounds. Many of their talent enthrall and captivate everyone and we see the channels celebrating their problems and bugaboos with crocodile tears. In spite of the farce, are the contestant’s really benefitting?
Many of the shows get wide coverage and unparalleled success and acclaim only because the channels are flooding the charts with such reality shows. For them its huge business and super profits, abnormal profit whatever we can call them. The people often forget this thing. They watch it because of the limited choice. You don’t have anything else other than this.

There are many things happening behind the curtain which people are not at all aware of. Start camera, ACTION is preceded by various sufferings and hardships borne by the participant and their family which no channel, producer or the spectator acknowledges because it does not have entertainment value because it’s real not show. They are only happy with the melodrama after the ACTION!!!!  
It’s amazing, even the poorest farmer or casual labourer sends an SMS to their favourite participant. (The penetration of mobile technology) an act which will disturb the equilibrium of his budget. The monthly roll gets an additional commodity—‘RECHARGE OFFER CARD.’ The allocation slightly shifts towards from rice and wheat to cards when the show gets nearer to the final rounds.  Most of the winners in the show are decided by SMS, the guiding beacon of victory, prestige and the symbol of strength and fortitude. It’s not the best that often wins, but the popular that wins.

The biggest reason of the debt trap of the contestants is because of the large amount of money spent on the paraphernalia’s of the show. For a single performance, the candidate has to dole out large amount of money for the set, costumes, choreography, property, theme, hiring co stars etc. the channel conveniently frames new round and the contestant has to do things to survive. That means doling out more money. At the end, just imagine the total money spent by a participant.
So these channels who select the contestant are bound to take care of these charges rather than leading them to debt traps or else please don’t conduct shows. It only needs a miniscule amount from their total profit to address these issues. And there should be strict monitoring of the conduct of the show. No one should be allowed to do anything in television. Morality should not be compromised at any cost. There should be stern action against the offenders.

If possible end the SMS loot. What guarantee do all of us have that they are all recorded properly and it’s the votes that ultimately determine the winner. What credibility does this format have?
Channels should also think something useful for the people. Gone are the days of T.V quizzes for children and others, which had encouraged innumerable children to read newspapers and magazines voraciously. Now the channel says that people don’t want serious stuffs or they simply need soap operas and unreal shows undermining the aspirations of the people.

People should definitely understand the sufferings of the parents. Especially the parents of children who are shown the exit doors saying “sorry dear you are OUT”.  What about the depression of the children and people, their family? Who is going to heal that? The people who support all these shows owes answer to them
Remember, these channels gurus and reality shows are not the ultimate verdicts for your children friends.




  1. Really enjoyed the "Reality TV" cartoon that illustrates the issue very well.

  2. an article which aptly reflects the sensibility and sensitivity of the REAL issues inherent in REALITY shows ...... kudos !!!!!!!!!

  3. the article aptly comments of what is going on in the name of reality shows.what attracts people to the reality shows is the immediate publicity and fame that comes to them .but its a real fact that all these "reality children"proves to have no future.real mastroes never came through any shows.your article throws light into all these issues..gr8........

  4. Now a days television is like an abattoir ! Not only lackadaisical reality madness but also those prime time lunatic's .Those television freaks are committing some serious moral offence
    stupidity in 'MEGA' format, 'REAL' lacking reality stuffs as u said,............ there goes the list . As a medium who enjoy a wider access towards the people than any other,this guys must show some social responsibility .....
    otherwise you are screwing a generation !!!
    @Arjun :Man you done a great job .congrats keep up the good work

  5. Yes, Arjun. There is only one winner in this game, and it'd be the channels and mobile phone companies.
    I am, fortunately, not an avid watcher of reality shows, but what little I've seen has been enough to convince me that I'm better off without watching them.
    The fact is that none of this really contributes to man-making. Our country needs men and women who believe in themselves, and this is definitely not the way to do it.

    The truth is we're all Kings and Queens. By what standard of hypocrisy do these people judge our worth? It is too narrow a judgement that is being passed on the people in reality shows. But hey, if people don't mind wasting their money, well, its theirs to waste. :)

  6. another important negative impact which such shows are deliberately injecting into the peoples mind is the dressing pattern of the anchors. they often appreciate such clothings and often increase their mileage and attaches them with the modern day culture.they say this is the signature of the time. such costumes can be hardly qualified as a dress.. they have their individual liberty to wear anything but they have no rights to promote such stuffs through such shows. i know many girls who had inspiration from such anchors and even ordered a stitching outlet to make a replica. people's liberty is acknowledged but anything cannot be tolerated in the name of liberty. all these are the sordid testimony of the extent of impact of such shows..

  7. It's indeed a cause of deep concern that the so called reality shows are looting the participants,extracting huge profits for themselves......the quest of the human psyche for abrupt recognition is taken advantage of by ''reality shows'' that apparently satisfy the contestants by taking them to ''instant reputation'' but rarely do the contestants realize the short lived nature of the ''bubble reputation' bestowed on them by such reality shows.... adding to the misery of the poor contestants are certain judges who make insensitive remarks and uncultured statements under the tag of ''fun''..harassment is being carried out which elevates the ''sadistic pleasure'' of some judges...which can adversely affect the morale of the contestants...it's high time that the educated youth initiate actions against such shows that take people to mental agony and financial debt.Hats of to the author of the above article ,that clearly highlights the ill affects of the TV reality shows.keep penning....!!

  8. Liked your article.However I disagree with the point about the anchor's dressing sense! Mockery/imitation is rampant everywhere.Do you honestly believe that none of the audience have ever imitated any of the dressing styles of actors/actresses of the big screen? Half the trends in the market are spurned by the clothes of the big stars. Sometimes they are quite nice as well.When Meera jasmine sported a new jhumka in her movie,The jewellery was the lates "in" thing. Let us just say people imitgate what they like.So let them. The choice is theirs. This choice changes when it comes to any person under age. There, let the parents make a choice! Stop blaming the anchors.