I guess there are viewers who enjoy seeing small children in reality shows. Little boys and girls, some as young as eight years old, dance, sing and cook in front of judges. They parrot lines about fulfilling their parents’ dreams, cry when they get eliminated and share heart-rending stories with the judges (who also cry in tandem). I’m sure many of these children are amazingly talented and should be encouraged to realise their potential, but seriously — are television weep fests the best way to do this? Junior Masterchef India is the latest such competitive reality show for kids and it makes for deeply uncomfortable viewing. (What next? Will there be a Bachcha Bigg Boss? A Roadies for tots where they get to ride toy bicycles? Will Toddlers and Tiaras — an American reality show for kids, basically a beauty pageant — come to India?).
Even the best reality show on TV these days — Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, without a shadow of doubt — has two small children, Sonali and Sumanth, in it (they’re the winners of India’s Got Talent). But the good thing is that Jhalak… is a show that’s solely about entertainment, entertainment and more entertainment. There are no sob-fests, no emotional drama. The only time Jhalak… gets a bit serious is when eliminations take place and that is easily the most boring part of the show. (The good thing: people who get eliminated say a quick goodbye, share a few hugs and they’re gone). Also, the three judges — Karan Johar, Madhuri Dixit, Remo D’Souza — are unfailingly warm and pleasant, particularly to the two child participants.
Jhalak… brings me to its hosts, Manish Paul and Kapil Sharma, who have to be the two most energetic, funny and whacky men on Indian TV today. Some of their jokes can be a bit off-colour, but they’re forgiven, because they more than make up for it with their madcap anchoring. The judges — particularly Karan Johar — play along cheerfully. The overall air of crazy merriment is infectious.
Which brings me to Kapil Sharma who is now firmly ensconced as TV’s king of comedy with his weekend show, Comedy Nights With Kapil (where Navjot Singh Sidhu plays the role of canned laughter). The one-hour show rises and dips — parts of it are hilarious, other parts not so funny and some parts downright cringe-making. But Kapil holds it all together and has a genuine ability to raise laughs; not surprising then that Comedy Nights… has become the hottest choice for movie stars looking to promote their films on TV shows. Shah Rukh Khan came on the show twice to promote Chennai Express.
In these hard times, laughter is at a premium. Enjoy it while you can!