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Finding talent and true love on reality TV

Maybe below the aggressive, attention-seeking veneer that we’re all used to, Rakhi is a simple, shy and retiring girl looking for “sachcha pyaar” (her words) on this show. And maybe pigs will fly tomorrow morning, writes Poonam Saxena.

india Updated: Jul 04, 2009 00:43 IST
Poonam Saxena

Can you sing? Dance? Juggle? Breathe fire? Burp? Fart?

If the answer is yes, kindly send in your applications to the two new talent hunt contests currently on air.

Sony kickstarted its Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega some weeks ago — ordinary people come to the studio, do little acts of something or the other, win Rs 10,000 if they impress the judges, or leave empty-handed if they don’t. The two judges are Anu Malik and Farah Khan (the latter keeps intoning ‘Entertainment shuru kiya jaaye’; much like a royal command to bring on the dancing girls / circus acrobats / performing bears / whatever).

Now Colors has begun its own talent show, India’s Got Talent, based on an international format by Fremantle. The show is hosted by someone called Ayushman Khurrana (sorry, don’t have a clue who he is) and deejay Nikhil Chinappa (nice to see him outside of his normal haunt, MTV, which — thanks to its monumentally mindless shows like Splitsvilla — has now become one of the most brain dead channels on TV).

Anyway, right now India’s Got Talent is showing us auditions in different cities, and the three judges are all from the film world: Sonali Bendre, Kirron Kher and Shekhar Kapur. Shekhar is an inspired choice — an intriguingly fresh face for a reality show judge. In the very first episode, he broke down and — get this — wept when he saw a dance performance by a six-year-old girl with no arms (she was part of a dance performance by a group of special children). He didn’t sniff discreetly, he didn’t have a few drops roll down his cheeks aesthetically. He wept. As in sobbed. It was so sudden and so surprising — but it also seemed so sincere.

Kirron Kher shed a few tears herself while watching a performance by a music band. (Her explanation? She said she has a very soft corner for anything from the north east.) But if Kirron knows what’s good for her, she’ll stick to her laughter, her boisterous “Fabulous! You were fabulous!” comments, her earthy reactions — and her jaw-droppingly ornate saris, jewellery and flowing hair.

The other person who cried delicately (teardrops trickling down foundation-covered cheeks kind of crying) this week was Rakhi Sawant on her own show (Rakhi Ka Swayamvar, NDTV Imagine). She cried because she was very moved by a song that singer Raja Hasan sang on her show. Now, Rakhi weeping, fighting, crying, shouting, dancing is something all of us have seen many, many times (far too many for our sanity, actually; however). But the NDTV Imagine show takes you where no channel has taken you before and shows you a coy, demure Rakhi who looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.

In one of the episodes, one of her suitors offered her a Bacardi. Rakhi stared at him in such shock and horror, it was as if he had offered her cocaine, heroin, LSD and opium all at once. I almost expected to hear thunder and lightning in the background, to mark the enormity of the moment. “I don’t drink or smoke,” whispered Rakhi, and I thought she might even add, “I only drink Gangajal” — just to set the record absolutely right.

Well, maybe below the aggressive, attention-seeking veneer that we’re all used to, Rakhi is a simple, shy and retiring girl looking for “sachcha pyaar” (her words) on this show. And maybe pigs will fly tomorrow morning.

When told by host Ram Kapoor (who should really, really really instantly make an appointment with Shikha Sharma) that many people think her show is a publicity stunt, Rakhi sighed sadly and said she was deeply pained by such insinuations. How could people have come to such an unjustified conclusion?

How indeed?