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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Gimmicks of reality TV

Kavita awaasthi, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, February 04, 2013
First Published: 12:40 IST(4/2/2013) | Last Updated: 14:36 IST(4/2/2013)
Reality TV is as fascinating as it is irritating. While it is enjoyable to become a tad voyeuristic while watching an episode of Bigg Boss, laugh when contestants on Nach Baliye or Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa fall during rehearsals, or catch under-privileged members of society overcome challenges in MasterChef, reality shows are an essential part of TV viewing these days.

We can’t escape, but do we have to suffer the endless gimmicks we are subjected to on various shows? From celebrating a birthday, contestants claiming they didn’t perform well because their near and dear one is unwell, narrating emotional stories from childhood, fighting with co-contestants, sustaining an injury during rehearsals to overcoming fear — all these are mere ploys to garner public sympathy, votes, and most importantly, increase TRPs.

The best of the lot was Sara Khan and Ali Merchant’s wedding in the Bigg Boss house, which turned out to be a publicity stunt. It was so unbelievable that it was believable. 

The two on-air reality shows, Welcome and Nach Baliye, have their fair share of gimmicks too. Focusing on drama, instead of food or hosting skills, Welcome highlights the nastiness between stars, like Ragini Khanna’s comments on Nigaar Khan, Giselle Thakral and Dimpy Mahajan’s week-long fight, Sara Khan and Ali Merchant thrown in together despite their history. Nach Baliye too has its shares of issues — contestants do not have enough time for rehearsals, hurt their backs, or are in pain while rehearsing — all of which are shown on the show. The mantra seems to be the better the trick, the higher the TRPs, votes and fan following for the star. Few are genuine, like Isha Sharvani injuring herself during Jhalak’s last season.

So why are such gimmicks popular? Simple, Indians love masala. That’s why Indian TV shows can never be rid of emotional drama. Also, a few hit shows have managed to hit the bull’s eye with the right balance of talent and gimmicks. If we stopped reacting or being affected, perhaps we would have more engaging content and less family drama on reality shows.
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