Three big-ticket talent reality shows opened last weekend: Jhalak Dikhla Jaa (Colors), Indian Idol Junior (Sony) and Dance India Dance Super Moms (Zee). I’ve always been partial to Jhalak… because of its high-spirited mix of dance, entertainment, humours and glamour. Each of the three judges — Karan Johar, Madhuri Dixit and Remo D’Souza — brings his/her own USP to the show. Karan is warm and witty; Remo focuses on the technical part (“Your toes should be pointed; your knees were bent when they shouldn’t have been” etc) while Madhuri Dixit, with her trademark 100 watt smile, has the uncanny ability to describe each performance just so. And I’ve always maintained that the host, Manish Paul, is the best TV anchor in business today. This year he’s joined by comedian Kapil Sharma who is funny but probably needs to grow a bit on viewers. The show opener had the by-now familiar film promotions — Ranbir Kapoor was there pushing Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani and the Deol clan was there for Yamla Pagla Deewana 2. Much fun was had by everyone and this season too, Jhalak… promises to make for good viewing.
Dance India Dance Super Moms comes across as a bit of a bargain basement version of Jhalak… The judges are choreographers Farah Khan (who can always be counted on to bring energy and humour to the show) and Marzi Pestonji (whose rudimentary Hindi looks like it’s going to become a running gag on the show). What was interesting to see was the number of mothers — of all ages, shapes and sizes — who came for the auditions and did their acts with an impressive lack of inhibition. They came with their husbands, mothers, mothers-in-law, babies (one infant was unceremoniously thrust into Pestonji’s arms by Farah because there was no one else to look after the tot while the mother twirled about on stage), even teenaged children.
Indian Idol is one of Sony’s most popular properties (going back to 2004 if I’m not mistaken). But this particular edition has child singers, some as young as eight. Though the judges — singer Shreya Ghoshal, and composers Vikas Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani — are kind, I don’t know how the contest is going to unfold. What happens when a ten-year-old child gets eliminated? Or when, for instance, a contestant like the visually challenged Prerna Agarwal, gets eliminated (maybe she won’t but maybe she will). Does anyone know how children really feel when they face rejection on such shows? (And Indian Idol is by no means the only such show. Audiences apparently like seeing small children participating in talent shows. And not just in India — MasterChef Australia too had a Junior version). So perhaps I’m in a minority. But though many of the children are extremely talented, I still have an uncomfortable nagging feeling at the back of my mind while watching them on such shows.