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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Voyeurism in the name of reality shows

Kavita awaasthi, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, November 18, 2013
First Published: 12:02 IST(18/11/2013) | Last Updated: 12:13 IST(18/11/2013)

Blame television or blame the social network, we are a generation of voyeurs. We criticise those who will let you in on every little detail about their life — those who tweet every second about what they eat, when they sleep, when they go to the bathroom. Too much information, we say. Heck, we’ve created an abbreviation — TMI. But we do criticise only after we’ve consumed the bit of TMI with substantial glee.

Of course, this desire of ours for details about other people’s lives, for scandal, for shock, isn’t something producers of TV shows will just let go.

Case in point, the much-maligned Bigg Boss (BB), halfway through season 7, continues to be one of the most popular shows on air. So what do other channels (even one known to be super conservative) do to win back some of the eyeballs?

Throw in some shock of their own, even into a format that has never really had any in the past.

Nach Baliye (NB), in its sixth season, has decided to change its approach. Judge Sajid Khan apparently said that Bruna Abdullah’s sensuous act is "too steamy for family audiences".  Then, contestant Lata (Sabharwal) spoke about marrying a divorcee, Sanjeev Seth. Judge Terence Lewis applauded, even though, for a palpably quiet Shilpa Shetty, it was perhaps too close to home (she’s married to the divorcee Raj Kundra). 

Then Kanika Maheshwari gave us a peek into her life and long-distance relationship with a businessman husband who lives in Delhi. The camera went into her bedroom to capture her loneliness. Was it necessary? Good question. More than that, what does any of this have to do with dance

But BB still takes the cake that has ‘shock’ written in big, bold icing on top. Twists, scandalous relationships (if you could even call them that) and new ways to fight and humiliate — the season has it all. In the centre of it all have been Tanishaa Mukerji and Kushal Tandon, and, more than perhaps ever before, host Salman Khan himself. Add to that scatological chit-chat and pool-peeing ethics, and you have content that’s so bad, you’ve just got to watch it. 

Reality show? Let’s just call it voyeurism central.

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