Reality TV in India is going places - and its making sure no concept goes amiss, not even one involving God. A new show Mahayatra has 12 participants vying to fulfill their parent's dream of visiting the four major Hindu religious centres - Puri, Rameshwaram, Dwarka and Badrinath.
The unique show is a test for young contestants to prove their love, dedication and sacrifice for their parents, as well as for them to become the modern-day Shravan Kumar. The young man of Indian epic Ramayana carried his blind parents for a pilgrimage in two baskets slung across his shoulder.
"As children, we have all heard of Shravan Kumar's story of how he set out on foot with his blind parents to the four holy 'dhams' (places). His journey was left incomplete as he was hunted down. With this show we are aiming at completing that journey and finding a modern-day Shravan Kumar," Monika Shergill, senior creative director, told reporters.
"These days no child has the time to share a morning cup of tea or be with parents at the dining table. So, this show also ignites the feeling of devoting time to your parents and taking good care of them. It is very well attached to Indian ethos and culture," added Shergill.
A religious adventure show, as it is being called Mahayatra, will have the participants going through various adventures, sometimes physically taxing tasks, after winning which they get one step closer to their destination.
"This show has the intensity of a survivor, dynamism of a race, a unique format of a reality show, nail-biting elimination rounds and tasks with a hint of (MTV) Roadies. It has taken us 90 days of shooting, travelling 28,000 km and three months recce to make this show possible. It's the most difficult show we have done," Niret Alva, chairman of Miditech, that has produced Mahayatra, told IANS.
But isn't it commercialising God? "That was a tricky balance that we had to create. With this show, we have given these children a platform to take their parents for the pilgrimage. Beyond that, their motive is in their heart, the emotions to fight all odds to fulfill a dream for their parents are their own," said Alva.
The show, to be hosted by TV actor Manish Goyal, will have 12 teams comprising three family members each. They embark on a journey covering key shrines across India, and the winning team will take home a reward of Rs.10 million.
Various celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, Sukhwinder Singh, Kailash Kher, Shaan, Udit Narayan, et al will also be a part of the show as they will be seen motivating the participating families at key cities.
Mahayatra will premiere on January 18 and will air every Monday-Friday at 7 pm.