Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Reality Show That Shouldn't

I recently witnessed one of these so-called "Reality Shows" on television. I should confess I am not a regular viewer of television programmes. In fact, I normally see TV programmes only when they are "forced" on me because I happen to be in a house where the set happens to be switched on. And this was no exception. But this time it was one of those unreal shows in Hindi. And I almost wanted to give the guy who made the programme such a blow that he would never think of making such a programme again. Well, that needs a bit of explanation, I guess.

I saw bits of the song that the contestants had apparently sung after which each one was told to wait to learn what their fate was going to be. Then I saw all of them seated in a row. The anchor then gave each of them a small white board and a pen. Then each person was asked to write on the board, horror of horrors, who they would like to see out of the contest that day!

I thought this was the height of absurdity. I already do not like these programmes because they appear to be competitions among singers but they do not really test the musical abilities of the individuals. First of all, they need viewers to vote for their favourite participants and the winner is based on the number of votes (s)he receives. The participants are asked to beg viewers to vote for them, which, I feel, is humiliating. This leads, I am told, to participants paying people to vote for them, and, apparently, even hiring people to sit and send messages! Since the whole idea is to make huge profits, and the rewards offered also are out of the world, such manipulations automatically become part of the scheme.

Moreover, it is not enough that the participant sings, he needs to "perform"! That is, they need to appear in a dress that suits the song and kind of dance around the stage while they sing. I am totally unable to understand this. Which of the great musicians of this part of the world would have been able to do such things? Kumar Gandharva? Thyagaraja Bhagawathar? Omkarnath Thakur? Semmangudi? Or even Mohaamed Rafi? Yesudas? Latha Mangeshkar? None of the great singers I know of Only in movies do we see people singing and dancing. And they used to do that in reality only in the initial days of the "talkie". Why, even those judges who sit and make comments would fail miserably if they tried to do that. That kind of performance has been a part only of rock concerts, where we see Michael Jackson (or someone else) jump around with a microphone or threaten to break the microphone stand. Such "performance" has never been a part of the music in this part of the world. So obviously, that has come from the West. Here, the emphasis has been on the purity of the note (Sruthi), bhava or emotion and things like that. Music has always been primarily an audio performance. I don't understand why such alien ideas that cannot go with our music should be brought into these "unreal" shows.

But to ask the participants to name the persons they would wish to see gone is the height of indecency. We have plenty of other reasons to differentiate people - religion, caste, language, region, colour, whatever one could think of. And now why do these guys want to create animosity among singers from different places? Next, I guess, they would be asking people, "which of your friends would you like to see dead today?" This is outright ridiculous! These are shows that shouldn't be shown or shot.