While MTV Roadies: Hell Down Under was drawing to a close this summer, an incident in the Capital made everyone sit up and take note.
Nine-year-old Chandan Singh imitated a stunt from his favourite show and hung himself from the ceiling of the house. He died. The notification to not copy stunts was obviously not made clear to him.
Meghana Naidu and Dipannita Sharma, the girls who were once contestants on a stunt-based show Khatron ke Khiladi, agreed that parents shouldn’t allow children to watch such shows if they are not old enough to understand the risks involved.
Still, the number of stunt-based shows on television is set to rise. Fast and the Gorgeous involves arduous physical tasks for young women who want to become a part of the Force India team. Bigg Boss Season 3 and Khatron ke Khiladi Season 2 will soon get underway on Colors. Is Jungle se Mujhe Bachao and Dadagiri are also set to air on Sony and UTV Bindaas in the first week of July. All test celebs and commoners respectively on their capacity to take on gross tasks.
Why do it?
The question is, why would anyone go to such lengths on national television? According to Ankit Bhanga, a contestant on the upcoming show, Dadagiri, his love for adventure sports prompted him take the plunge. “There were times when I wanted to just give up and even give a piece of mind to the bullies. But I carried on knowing that at least they wouldn’t kill us,” he says.
Ravi Kissen, a contestant on Bigg Boss Season One, says that after becoming a superstar in Bhojpuri movies, he’d lost
touch with his real self: “It was torture being in the house. At some point, you break down completely.”
Pooja Bedi, a Khatron ke Khiladi contestant in the first season, says that she was promised that they wouldn’t have to eat anything yucky. For Ali, who was on Real’s Sarkar ki Duniya, it was about learning to survive in extreme situations. He admits that after living on salt and water and toiling like a labourer on national TV for a Rs 1 crore jackpot, he’s ready for any challenges now.
Nihaal, finalist of Roadies 5.0, says that it’s only about winning and being the best. “The end is more important than the means,” he asserts.
Clinical psychologist Trupti Jayin says, “What perhaps is not foreseen is the fact that these young contestants, once out of the show, would eventually behave in a similar fashion. ‘Life is a game, play it mean’ is what this culture is promoting. Ridiculing is gradually on its way to becoming the norm and can be ethically harmful,” she states.
Ashish Patil of MTV begs to differ. He says that no one has ever returned complaining about being pressurised into doing stunts. He adds that when instant fame and big money are the lures, contestants will go to any lengths.
While such an experience may not have been worth it for Pooja Bedi, others say it’s worked for them. Palak, a finalist from Roadies HDU, has landed a movie offer while Nauman, the winner, has returned on another MTV show, Connected. Mohit from Splitsvilla 2 has landed a plum role in a daily soap.