Thursday, March 5, 2009

REALITY ABOUT REALITY SHOWS

Reality shows like Sa Re Ga Ma, Indian Idol are building up tremendous fan following and garnering hefty TRPs for the channels airing them. The shows are targeted to showcase the hidden talent in the nooks and corner of this vast nation -a nation that is bountifully endowed with gifted people. And these reality shows are simply a platform to pay tribute to the gifted people of this blessed land. How else can we ever come face to face with hidden and obscure talent!

Right platform or not, one thing is certain that so far there is no other equally effective alternative scheme that has been presented before us to hunt and showcase genuine talent. We may not agree with lot that is happening in the name of showcasing talent in these programmes. Plenty of gimmicks are resorted to by the producers of these reality shows which may offend the finer feelings of mind and soul. Not withstanding all that, one is compelled to acknowledge the fact that there is overall good being done to the society, maybe inadvertently. Lets take a deeper look at the pluses and minuses of the reality shows as platform to showcase one's talent:-

  1. The entertainment industry in India has found its moorings in this century. In other words it has come of age. Television is an essential component of entertainment industry. Television is also maturing in India . If we take a retrospective view, in the last century Television was languishing in India airing programmes connected to Indian Cinema only. But with the advent of Reality shows television viewing has taken a totally different dimension. Percentage increase of viewership has taken an exponential jump. With that increase in demand has come the logical increase in supply, making a virtuous cycle. The net result is the magnetic draw of big time money in television. One must admit that there are other genre of shows also which have contributed generously to the present happy situation, but place of Reality shows in this plot is undeniably there for all to acknowledge.

  2. With big time money comes professionalism and that brings more competent people to join force. The resultant is bigger, better and slick shows for audience to savour.

  3. Entertainment industry in general and Indian Cinema in particular benefits greatly from such Reality shows. Talent hunt in such a geographically vast nation is a tedious and daunting task to say the least. So before Reality shows came into existence music directors took the shortest route and worked with the same set of singers you could count on your little finger. And young singing talent in India went unsung (pun unintended). Not many talented youngsters will have such high motivational level as to leave everything and come to Mumbai to exhibit their talent, knowing fully well that they may not be able to fix up an audience with music directors for years. Reality shows have given such talented youngsters a popular platform to showcase their talent and draw attention of music directors of all hues.

  4. In effect such Reality shows are not only accomplishing the tedious task of ferreting out fresh talent, but also helping towards ushering in professionalism thereby enhancing quality in music industry. With high TRP comes better sponsorship. With better sponsorship comes bigger money which encourages talented youngsters to take music not as a pastime but as a vocation. That brings better quality, competitiveness and professionalism. This is just the beginning. There is enough talent in India to take the world by storm. Don't believe it? Just reflect on what A R Rahman and Sukhwinder Singh duo has done at the just concluded 81st Academy Awards.

  5. Popularity of such Reality shows is likely to make producers to experiment with modifications to this successful model. In future we may see Western Music talent being showcased successfully. Then will happen coup d'etat as Indians storm into the professional Pop and Rock bastion of the West. That will be the last frontier.

At times Reality shows may be accused of being biased in declaring the winners of these events. Or the producers may ignore blatant use of unfair means by participants to come up trumps. So in the end the viewers may be left wondering whether the winner was really the best of the lot. At times one may get emotionally upset to find glaring anomaly in declaration of winner in such shows. Before you lose heart and dump these entertaining programmes for good, take a dispassionate look at the following facts:-

  1. Just because the end result was rigged or unfair doesn't take an inch away from the wonderful young talent that has been showcased by these programmes.

  2. Who more than us Indians know for a fact that every aspect of our existence is coloured by unfair practices! There is unfair means being employed at every step that we take. Does that mean that we forsake everything that is unjust and unfair. Don't we still chug along? Then can we not take such practices in these shows in our stride. After all we should realise that ultimate winner of these shows is the Music industry, the entertainment industry along with the young talent and audience . So what if the producers, sponsors and maybe some cheats also win in the bargain.

  3. As conscientious audience we can voice our displeasure in abandon in various fora, in case we find something unpalatable in selection of winner. That will work wonders with the producers as they depend on us for TRP , which in turn drives sponsorship. Such Reality shows are in nascent stage of evolution in India and with audience opinion there is no doubt that many checks and balances will be put in place as we go along. That will ensure more transparency and better selection procedure for winners.

The need of the hour in India is to install foundations for professionalism in all activities that we undertake. Professionalism comes through finances which sponsors bring to the table. Talent is in abundance in India, be it music, sports, research, any performing or fine arts. Magic lies in hunting them and showcasing them in proper professional platforms. Reality shows like Sa Re Ga Ma, Indian Idol are doing just that. Keep the ball rolling! Watch out for the Indian Entertainment Industry in the next decade!!