Of drama, passion and Indian reality shows
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Of drama, passion and Indian reality shows

Are reality TV show producers banking on high-drama to attract audience, asks Sevashree Mohapatra.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2006 13:46 IST

After Zee TV's Sa Re Ga Ma PaChallenge that excited the entire country, now it's the turn of Sony's Indian Idol to generate controversy. The last episode of Indian Idol aired on March 14 was full of dramatic developments that Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge had once.

Amey Date from Mumbai, one of the promising contestants, was oustered from the show by public voting. The result in the show, announced after alot of suspense, resulted in strong protests by the audience. But what added an element of drama was the judges' reaction.

The Indian Idol judges - Farah Khan, Anu Malik and Sonu Nigam, looked totally stunned at the elimination of the highly rated Amey. In fact, they walked away from their seats protesting at what they termed a totally unfair decision. According to them, he deserved to be in the last three rather than the other surprise contestant Anuj.

And the channel fully exploited the situation. It highlighted the walkout with an apparent tie-up with Aaj Tak, much before the so-called live-show was to be aired at 9 pm.

Much to his credit, Amey took his exit sportingly. He tried to subdue his fans from Mumbai. His mother too looked rather upset, as her son looked a sure candidate for the finals along with Karunya from Hyderabad.

The three judges showered praise on Amey and blamed it all on a lethargic public many of whom do not vote, though they like a particular singer. But one cannot help wondering whether the whole episode was stage-managed, for the sake of TRP. Because nothing angers viewers when a favourite singer is ousted due to poor public vote.

Much the same thing had happened with Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. It also sawa high passion drama a month back. Two promising singers - Nihira and Hemani - lost, despite being excellent singers. The rise of Debojit, one of contestants from Assam, was believed due to a large extent due to the massive voting from North-East. On the other hand, Vinit from Lucknow, hardly 17 years old, lost in the finals narrowly, though he had an edge with his booming voice.

Ismail Darbar who was very fond of singers trained by him, lost his cool when Nihira was voted out. So much so that he was even ready to quit the show. In fact, some of the singers felt Debojit was getting an unfair edge due to his total backing from his hometown. But the show format being what it was, the judges have little choice.

Such reality shows have opened floodgates of questions. Are popular singers thrown out of the shows just to excite some passion or high drama? Or are there some flaws in the voting system? The people vote the Indian Idol contestants through SMS and calls from the landlines.

The shows have now become in a way a battlefield with audience directly arguing and debating with the judges favouring their own contestants. Perhaps the motive is to make the show controversial and more talked about but aren't we promoting regionalism in the process? Says Rama Vasudev, an ardent follower of shows like Indian Idol and Sa Re Ga Ma Pa."The aim of any reality show should be to bring out the best talents of the country and not just to trigger controversy or regionalism."

No doubt that these reality shows have become more popular than any saas-bahu sagas that have ruled the TRPs for a long time. The popular TV channels honchos too understand the changing nature of Indian audience who want more reality show than those tear-jerking family dramas.

First Published: Mar 20, 2006 14:06 IST