As if the television entertainment space wasn’t already full to the brim, yet another channel has just been launched: Real. A joint venture between the Alva brothers (if they had a shop, would it be called Alva Bros?) and Turner International, Real currently offers four or five programmes which you can see anytime you tune in.
The look and feel is quite bright and cheerful (the emphasis is on nice solid colours) — different from the other channels.
The content? Well, let’s start at the beginning. Given my visceral loathing of saas-bahu serials, the first thing I did was scan the Real landscape to check if there was any mother-in-law/sister-in-law from hell lurking in some corner, ready to jump out and install herself centrestage.
But I’m happy to say that so far I haven’t found even one jewellery-laden shrew screeching abuse at some poor hapless bahu.
As far as I’m concerned, that already gives Real a hundred plus points.
The flagship programmes are both reality shows — Poker Face and Sarkaar Ki Duniya.
The former is a game show (based on a format owned by international production company, Fremantle), hosted by actor Sharman Joshi.
It’s like most game shows in that there’s a glitzy set, an array of enthusiastic contestants, the tempting possibility of winning big money and the dangerous probability of losing everything. (It’ll take too long to explain the intricacies of the game, you’ll have to watch the show to figure that out).
Sharman Joshi isn’t exactly Bollywood’s best known or most charismatic star but he tries to be forceful.Game shows/quiz shows were big a few years ago — is the genre a bit spent now? We’ll find out soon enough.
Sarkaar Ki Duniya is a sort of Bigg Boss meets scaled-down Survivor: A bunch of nonentities (the only minor celebrity I could spot was Fame Gurukul winner Qazi Tauqeer) are carted off to an island where they live in a Bigg Boss-type house and have to do the local Sarkaar’s bidding.
Sarkar is like a Bigg Boss with a body — a body clad in a costume that’s a cross between a bandwallah’s and a hotel darwaan’s.
He is played by actor Ashutosh Rana, who’s been missing in action for a while now. I don’t know where he’s been but it hasn’t had any effect on his Hindi which remains as ferociously correct and eloquent as always. The contestants get paid for doing tasks given to them by the Sarkaar and the whole idea is to make as much money as possible (otherwise you get eliminated).
So the contestants perform the assigned tasks — digging a well, cooking, tending to cattle — but mostly they bicker with each other non-stop.
Real seems to have scoured the length and breadth of the country to put together the most discontented and argumentative bunch of people they could find. Also the most uninteresting. I was not a Bigg Boss fan, but compared to this bunch, the Bigg Boss housemates rocked.
The other two shows I caught were Namak Haraam and Hindi Hai Hum. Namak Haraam is about a high-powered couple where the husband is a businessman and the wife is an (please don’t faint) IAS officer.
The last time we saw a professional career woman as the ‘heroine’ of a serial is lost in the mists of time.
The serial does look promising, and I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed. Hindi Hai Hum has opened with that old, old cliché: bubbly, cute as a button small town girl meets big city guy and it’s hate at first sight.
Real seems somewhat differently positioned from the other channels — it hasn’t had a big bang opening (like Colors had with Akshay Kumar’s Khatron Ke Khiladi) and the content too seems different.
But will it fill the slot of a better quality-more urban centric-more intelligent channel? Alas, it doesn’t seem that different either.