Bitten by the reality bug

change of thought

Bitten by the reality bug

Talent hunt Reality shows need to be treated merely as a launch pad.

Examples are endless. Budding stars participate in contests with stars in their eyes — all want to be the next Sonu Nigam or Alka Yagnik. But here’s where they are wrong. The man behind Indian Idol, Niret Alva, Chairman of Miditech says, “Reality shows are just a launch pad, an opportunity to cut the queue and get noticed, They should be taken as a chance to get ahead in the industry and not be considered as an end in itself.”

India was bitten by the reality show bug way back, when Channel V presented viewers with Popstars — the hunt for a band. The result — mass hysteria and eventually formation of an all five-girl band, Viva. Sadly, it disintegrated sooner than it tasted success. Even though the remaining four girls did churn out some foot-tapping numbers, they failed to live up to the magic they promised. Now, hardly anyone is in news, except Anushka Manchanda, who can credit her rising popularity to her recent win in yet another reality show, ‘Khatron ke Khiladi’ (nothing to do with her singing talent).

Reality stars have a limited shelf life. Post competition, they just ride into oblivion. Of course, there are a few exceptions like Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan, Raju Srivastava or Prachi Desai but success stories are few. On one hand there is the occasional singer like Abhijeet Sawant who is still trying to make a mark and get his big break while there are others like Amit Tandon who shifted territory and made a conspicuous attempt to regain popularity by establishing himself as an actor through soaps on television and a reality dance show — ‘Zara Nach ke Dikha’. Didn’t work.

Debojit Saha, winner of ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ feels that one can only taste success if you are different and hardworking. “With a plethora of talent hunts on TV, we are mass producing singers and performers. But, where is the quality? While for a few success gets into their head, others cannot capitalise on their opportunity,” he says.

Reason enough why they aren’t successful when compared to their western counterparts. Look at Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood. They catapulted to success while we still don’t know what is happening with Sandeep Acharya winner of the second installment of ‘Indian Idol’, the band Aasma who are known for just one number — ‘chandu ke chacha’. Niret Alva explains, “The west adopts a 360 degrees approach to groom their contestants, before and after the show. They are marketed well are given a larger than life aura. Indian reality shows still don’t embrace this practice.”

Shows which belong to other formats like the ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’, gifted us with comics like Raju Srivastava and Sunil Pal. But now we have their clones like ‘Laughter ke Phatke’, ‘Hans Baliye’. These shows are jaded and fail to conjure up the same craze. Says Pankaj Saraswat, the man behind ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ series, “Let’s face it. Reality shows are mere shortcuts to success. Not everyone can make it big. Be it any commoner or a celebrity.
Moreover, you can’t keep bombarding the audience with the same concept.”

As for programmes like ‘Bigg Boss’, which did have it’s fair share of popularity had the same story. Winners could hardly gain leverage after their win like Rahul Roy, Ashutosh Kaushik. Despite shows yielding high TRPs the other contestants like Rakhi Sawant or Rahul Mahajan made more news than the winners themselves.

So, what’s the way out? When will India produce its share of Grammy winning singers, international dancers and stand up comedians? Debojit says, “Reality stars need guidance. Their talent needs to be nurtured. Production companies can chip in by ensuring that they concentrate on their career even after they win a particular show.” Alva adds, “What we need is marketing. We need to mould them into total performers and create international brands.” Point noted.

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