As the year ended, so did two big reality shows. Bigg Boss (Colors), anchored by Amitabh Bachchan, came to a close in a finale crammed with song, dance and tears. Most of the housemates had dance performances and two of them — Rohit Varma and Sherlyn Chopra — had unexpected (unexpected for the audience, I mean) family reunions. Amitabh called Rohit’s dad on stage and got the father and son to hug each other (Rohit said he was meeting his dad after eight years); then he did the same for Sherlyn and her mom. It has to be said, however, that neither Rohit nor Sherlyn looked particularly ecstatic at being reunited with their estranged parents. The only person who looked ecstatic that evening was of course, the winner, Vindoo.
Dance Premier League (Sony), which had Rani Mukherjee as one of the judges, also ended, and the Western Yodhas emerged as winners. I enjoyed the dancing — just as I’ve been enjoying the singing in Music Ka Maha Muqabala (Star Plus). It’s true that there are so many permutations and combinations of music and dance shows that the entire genre is now about as fresh as yesterday’s leftovers, but if the singing and dancing is of a high order, they can still make for enjoyable viewing. All you have to do is try and shut out the tedious fights and controversies and just concentrate on the performances. (Not easy, I know, but entirely possible; take it from someone who does it all the time).
It’s certainly better than the reality shows on channels like MTV, V and Bindass. These claim to be mean and nasty and rude — as if being mean and nasty and rude is a compliment of the highest order. I saw a few episodes of the Channel V show, The Player, hosted by Rajiv (the bearded twin of the bearded Raghu, of Roadies fame) and am still recovering. There’s a bunch of unprepossessing people who have to perform various tasks (can someone please banish the word ‘tasks’ from reality shows?); eventually one of them will win one crore.
One of the tasks I saw was a spelling contest where the participants misspelt everything: faux pas became ‘fohpa,’ cyst became ‘sest,’ beguile ‘begyal’ and so on. The show seeks to create drama by using, well, dramatic background music. Also, Rajiv speaks in deeply sinister tones, making an innocuous remark like “You have five minutes” sound like a death sentence. But despite all these attempts at deep, dark drama, the contestants come across as petty, self-obsessed and not very likable. Ditto for the show.
Splitsvilla on MTV throws together couples and singles and all of them do nothing except bitch about each other non-stop.
Bindass’ new show, Emotional Atyachar, a copy of the international show, Cheaters on Fox’s Reality Channel, about infidelity, isn’t any better. Secret cameras catch people in acts of ‘infidelity’ and then the cheated person confronts the cheater. The show takes a high moral ground, coming up with reactions like: ‘So-and-so was supposed to be committed and devoted to so-and-so, but it doesn’t look like it, does it. She’s just spent the whole day getting cosy with someone else.” And so on. The show itself is a bit of an atyachar — in any case, if someone is actually going to put his/her girlfriend/boyfriend under secret camera surveillance, frankly he/she deserves to be cheated on.
All these shows (The Player, Splitsvilla, Emotional Atyachar) are on ‘youth’ channels. Maybe the ‘youth’ truly enjoy all this mean, nasty, rude etc etc TV, in which case, all I can say to everyone who is not a ‘youth’ is: ‘Be afraid. Be very afraid.’ (Fittingly, this execrable line is from a film called The Fly, about a lab experiment gone horribly wrong).