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How Real are the Reality Shows?

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By Parnil Yodha:

Judges with crashed careers, contestant feuds with lewd language, wild card entries with candid controversies, suspense with bamboozling background score and anchors with less words, more glamour are all the indispensable ingredients necessary to conjure a ‘realistic’ reality show.

The small screen has been flooded with reality shows, namely X Factor, Just Dance, Little Champs, MTV Roadies, Emotional Atyachar, Ratan Ka Rishta, Comedy ka maha mukabala, MTV Stunt Mania and the list goes on. Whether it is Ratan Rajput choosing a groom for herself, Akshay Kumar overseeing sexy models doing thrilling stunts, Hrithik Roshan bestowing the small screen through his cameo in a dancing talent hunt show or Sanjay Leela Bhansali weeping over some participant’s performance, all reverberate the growing mania of reality TV.

Reality shows work more for audiences than for the participants. The judges of these shows become even more popular than the contestants. Therefore, they work in resurrecting careers of the so called forgotten ‘celebrities’. Shekhar Suman gained more fame and fortunes from just sniggering on national TV than acting on it. It is a completely another thing that he squandered all that he earned in making six pack abs and unleashing his own music album. Only with every new season of Indian Idol, we get nudged about the existence of a music director called Anu Malik. Aadesh Srivastava, Ismail Darbar, Archana Puran Singh, Adnan Sami and so on, are all those, resurrection of whose careers is attributed to reality shows.

Reality shows have also been a great platform for grand come-backs of forgotten actresses who are seen  judging reality shows that are not even near to their forte. Karishma Kapoor judging a talent hunt was one such instance. Madhuri Dixit, Sonali Bendre, Raveena Tandon, Archana Puran Singh(my apologies for placing her amongst actresses)and many more, all fall in the same league for whom reality shows worked as a come-back platform.

Shows like Big Boss, Emotional Atyachar, Splilsvilla, Love Lock-up etc are examples of our growing lust for intrusion in private lives of people and for that matter, even voyeurism. Emotional Atyachar’s grand success has shown that how we bite our nails sitting glued to our television sets seeing people cheating on their partners by making out with hot models. With the Swyamvar series, the institution of marriage has become farce. Shows like Splitsvilla, Love Lock-up, Truth Love and Cash and Dare to Date have ridiculed love by turning it into a lucrative business and an easy mode through which a handful of fame-crazy youngsters get over-night fame for a few months. Many youth-targeted reality shows have contestants using appalling lingo to abuse one another, even many a times they hit out at one another.

Most faces are forgotten with the end of a season and get replaced with the newer ones coming in the newer season, while a few conspicious ones end-up doing more reality shows or daily soap operas regardless of what kind of talent they posses.

Tabloid TV is also one form of reality TV. While showing a news-story, reality is constructed, exaggerated, sensationalised and trivialised just as what happens in a reality show. Many a times, fictional news stories are also shown. Nowadays, Hindi news channel even show repeat telecasts of daily soaps and reality shows brutally massacring their credibilty as news channels, not entertainment channels.

Scripted jokes, crying for no reason, sensational twists, over-whelming emotions and actions, and trivialised quarrels have become an integral part of our reality shows. How real are these show has always been a highly contentious issue triggering  a plethora of debates.

You must be to comment.
  1. Tarun

    Thats what people want. What to do? Why would someone talk about a village when shows like Roadies and Splitsvilla are running into their 8th, 9th seasons.
    I feel sad when I see 16, 17 years old kids enjoying Roadies and Splitsvilla.

  2. imran

    i wannai participate in reality
    show survivor india season 2.
    . . . M eagerly waiting for next reason hope i can participate in 2nd season . . . Its peaky very interesting n very tough to be survive . .I like such thrill . .:) hope i would get der a chance

  3. Anoop Choudhary

    how to participate in thos type of shows
    no idea
    help me to get idea

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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