Did you feel like putting your fist through the screen the last time you watched a reality show on TV? You have all our sympathies if the bitching, fighting, gossiping and tamasha that is currently passed off in the name of reality TV makes you reach for that paper bag. But what is it like to actually host or participate in such shows? Here are some voices from the other side of the fence.
Dare 2 Date participant / radio producer / voice-over artist
Why did you participate in the show?
To be frank, I wanted to break the monotony in my life. That and the fact that I was looking for an opportunity to be on TV and I thought that taking part in a reality show would be fun and wacky.
So what was it like?
I have a theatre background and have shot for corporate films before, so I wasn’t really too scared of facing the camera. So overall, it was a happy experience except for those bits where I had to impress my date – man, that was tough! My date and I didn’t get along because I was way older than her and about twice her weight.
But did you actually hope to hook up with someone through the show?
(Laughs) I’ll be frank, no. You would be stupid to go on a show with those expectations.
So what did everyone think about it – family, friends?
I’m quite pampered, so actually, just the fact that I was on TV was enough to make everyone squeal with delight. Of course, there was a chance that I could be taken as a joke by being on Dare 2 Date, but I made sure people laughed with me and not at me. Also, this show makes fun of the participants in a friendly way.
What did you think of VJ Andy?
Oh, he’s totally funny and crazy! He was one of the major reasons why I came on the show. What I like about Andy is that unlike most shows that essentially work on conflict and humiliation, he leaves every contestant free to do whatever they want and just captures it all.
Would you do a reality show again?
No, I don’t think so. I would only do one if it helps me showcase my talent and I don’t think any of the current shows provide a platform for that. Right now, about 95 per cent of people think of reality shows as a gateway into the entertainment industry. That’s not how it is. You always have to struggle.
Call of the screen
The primary motivation for going on Dare 2 Date on Channel V was the chance to be on TV, says participant Prince Kohli.
About the show
Dating is fun and blind dates are even more exciting! If you’re blind dating on national TV, though? Beware! Dare 2 Date is an anti-romance and anti-mush series where VJ Andy plays both cupid and devil and pairs two people who are complete opposites of each other.
Host of Dare 2 Date / choreographer / stylist
What makes Dare 2 Date different from other reality shows?
Dare 2 Date is really about the young people of India, their relationships and how they interact with one another. It’s about the youth and learning about how to date. What makes it unique, I think, is that since it involves people from all parts of the country and all classes of society, it is not just a show restricted to the cosmopolitan cities of India. Also, unlike other reality shows, we have good, clean fun. Even when I mock people, I do it affectionately and never with a malicious intent. There is no back stabbing, because we don’t want to go after the dirt on people. We want everyone to have a great time and I think most people watch and participate in the show for a laugh.
All the new reality shows, whether it is Dare 2 Date, Axe Ur Ex, Emotional Atyachaar and others, seem to be very focused on relationships between young people…
I don’t think it is only reality shows. Look at the daily soaps, they are all about relationships, aren’t they? What we want to do is let the youth of the country figure out their own identity. Through Dare 2 Date, I want to send out the message that going out on a date is okay, it’s clean, and in a country like ours that still believes in arranged marriages, having a relationship before getting married is perfectly normal, without it being all about sex.
Critics are up in arms against the current reality shows. What do you have to say to them?
I believe that most critics who say things like shows like these are spoiling Indian tradition or whatever don’t realise that our young people have grown up. It is time to let them take their own decisions and let them do what they want to do. I don’t think banning these shows is going to make them behave any differently. What we are doing is giving young people a platform to grow and learn.
What’s with the wacky wardrobe and behaviour on the show?
(Laughs) I am in charge of my own wardrobe on the show, so I have a ball picking out what to wear. The way I behave, well, all I can say is that I am a niche presenter. What other people think is weird is absolutely normal for me because that’s who I am and that’s how I behave in real life with friends and family.
And it also helps with the TRPs, right?
To tell the truth, I really don’t understand what TRPs mean or how they are calculated and all that. I stay away from all that marketing jargon. To me, the creativity of a show is all that counts. Every time there is a new season, it should be a step up.
Your perfect date?
I wish Madhuri Dixit had never got married!
Your perfectly mismatched date?
Someone who is boring and unable to hold a conversation. That’s a major turn off.
Host of Axe Ur Ex / theatre performer / voice artist
What makes Axe ur Ex unique?
I think it’s the fact that even though we’re tackling a serious issue like a break-up, the show is all abut fun and frolic. The spirit is very upbeat. The pranks we pull can be pulled by anyone in real life. We try to keep the show light and don’t go into a zone where we would encroach upon the personal space of an individual, so in that sense, it’s not voyeuristic.
So following people around with hidden cameras as they are humiliated isn’t voyeuristic?
No, I don’t think so. Our show tends to be light-hearted and fun unlike other shows like, say, Bigg Boss or Emotional Atyachaar that tend to go the whole way and completely invade people’s personal lives over a number of days. There is no distinction between personal space and public space in these shows.
But on a recent episode, a guy was beaten up with chappals by three girls. Is that a fun and light-hearted prank?
I admit that was one case that went a little overboard. After all, you are dealing with real break-ups, real people and real emotions. In fact, while shooting this particular episode, the guy who was being beaten up got so angry that he actually tried to assault me. The crew members had to hold him back to save me (I’m a small guy, man, I’m no Hrithik!). So yeah, I guess things can get out of hand sometimes.
Do you ever sympathise with the person getting axed?
You know, I do feel really bad for them. I can see their point of view as well and I guess every break-up has two sides to it.
As a society, we have been brought up to believe in ‘forgive and forget’. But Axe Ur Ex seems to be doing the exact opposite.
From all the relationships and break-ups that I have observed in my personal life, I have found that if a person is really hurt, there is no space for any rational thought or action. I think Axe Ur Ex just gives you a chance to confront and move on. It’s take revenge, forgive and forget (laughs).
Peeping toms? Us?
Unlike most other shows that tend to invade personal space, VJ Namit thinks that Axe Ur Ex is far from being voyeuristic
About the show
Girlfriend or boyfriend ditched you? Worry not, you can take sweet revenge by humiliating and embarrassing them right on national TV! Exes get ‘kidnapped’, tied up and even hit by chappals! Among other things...
Big Switch 2 participant, along with son Feroze Khan
Why did you participate in the show?
Actually, I knew nothing about the show. My son Feroze and I didn’t get along very well. He wouldn’t even talk to me directly, so he convinced his mother, who in turn convinced me to take part in it. I thought it would be good for both him and us to take part in the show because my son had really gone out of hand. He was very violent and did not listen to anyone, least of all me. He used to do exactly what he wanted.
Clearly. He destroyed a mirror and wrecked a bathroom on national TV.
Yes, but that wasn’t even 10 per cent of his anger you saw! You have no idea how violent he was at home! Once, he smashed his car in anger and set fire to his clothes. He even broke the washing machine.
And you were fine with that?
See, when he was young, uski bahut pitai karta tha (I used to thrash him a lot), but now he is 23. One doesn’t hit a son that old. He just wouldn’t listen to anyone.
Have things changed post the show?
You won’t believe how calm he has become now! Ninety per cent of his anger has vanished after being on Big Switch 2! After he found out that he couldn’t adjust with the other family, he realised the value of his real parents. Now we get along quite well.
Would you participate in the show again?
No, once was quite enough. But I am glad I did because I think such shows give a chance for problematic kids to get back on track.
About the show
Think your family doesn’t understand you? Fed up of your parents? Then just exchange them! Teenagers swap families for two days and everyone slugs it out.
From HT Brunch, December 19
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