VIVA happened when I was 19. It turned out to be my ticket to Bollywood. Though my parents were worried, they understood. In fact, my mother even encouraged me to take part. What I didn’t like about the show was creating situations that made us upset, cry, fight with each other — it all made for good visual masala. For example, there was a time when we were all living together and were emotionally edgy because we hadn’t met our parents for a long time. The crew shot visuals of our families, my blind dog, my parents and showed them to us.
They were so insensitive that they wanted to can our reactions to that even before we had a chance to watch the footage. They forced me to look up when I started crying… I find it sad that real human emotions are used to sell drama. Someone’s pain is someone else’s gain. I remember when VIVA auditions were going on and a girl started crying in Chandigarh, the crew actually popped champagne saying we got our first great footage! Though all said and done, we understood they’re making a show, but for people who come from simple backgrounds, it seems mean and unfair.
The audience will watch what you give them — Sa Re Ga Ma Pa was successful even when it was all normal and sweet. Recently, people even fainted on the sets and were taken to the hospital. It seems now that channels are just copying each other’s formats, like, they all have to have a mean judge.
It felt like one was back in school, hanging on to what the teacher was saying — and here it was the judge. For producers, these are just shows, but for the people who participate — everything is sacrosanct. What I don’t understand is why parents nowadays are hell bent on sending their children for these shows despite knowing the reality of reality shows. They still push their kids to be stars! I saw at an early age what most people see in their late twenties — so much negativity. By 25, you may be ready to face the world, not at 19. I remember feeling I had achieved my dream, but was still not happy. And I didn’t know why.
Neha Bhasin, 25, ex-VIVA — India’s first pop-star band