Reality television – love it or hate it but you just cannot ignore it!
Imagine Paris Hilton slogging it out on a farm, or Heidi Klum having a discussion with you about your upcoming fashion line? These are just a few instances which may have seemed next to impossible a decade back. Welcome to the era of reality television, a place where fiction meets reality.
Studying the international television scenario, the Indian counterpart has promptly caught-up with the latest trends. Reality television has arrived in India and is here to stay.
Reality TV in India dates back to the Channel V’s talent hunt for making of a musical band. The band called Viva that emerged from this show enjoyed short-lived popularity but marked the beginning of reality shows. Superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s Kaun Banega Crorepati, which was the Indian version of Who wants to be a Millionaire, was a major hit with the audience in India. What followed next was a flood of reality shows, many of them being adaptations of the pre-existing western versions.
Reality shows are a welcome break for many in the audience who were tired of cribbing about the drab saas-bahu series that were (and some of them still are) predominant on Indian television. Indian Reality TV is however in its nascent stage and mostly include Indian versions of the reality shows abroad. However these shows are enjoying tremendous popularity and will definitely give way to more innovative concepts on air.
Most Popular Reality TV Shows in India
No one can ever forget Cyrus Broacha’s grinning face and the confusion and bewilderment created amongst his victims. A wicked show with witty pranks followed by loads of laughter.
Kaun Banega Crorepati
Amitabh Bachchan’s stint on television was perhaps the first reality show on Indian television to garner humongous audience response. The second host of the series was Shahrukh Khan but did not seem to fare just as well.
This show has been one of the most popular reality shows on Indian television and perhaps due to the voting factor. With boys next-door turning into ultimate singing sensations, this show already has completed three seasons.
Sa Re Ga Ma
What started as a humble talent show hosted by Sonu Nigam soon metamorphosed into an ultra-glam, uber-dramatic reality show with the various celebrity judges like Himesh Reshammiya, Alka Yagnik, Abhijeet, and Ismail Darbar constantly at loggerheads with each other.
The Indian version of UK’s Big Brother is the most sensational and controversial reality show in India. Although long forgotten actor Rahul Roy emerged as the winner, it was people like Anupama Verma, Aryan Vaid (due to their on-air love affair) and Rakhi Sawant (due to her in-your-face attitude) who got instant recognition from this show.
The Great Indian Laughter Challenge
This hunt for India’s biggest comedian created a laughter riot on air with almost all its contestants enjoying tremendous popularity. Star judges Shekhar Suman and Navjyot Singh Siddhu enjoyed great following too.
An original concept that involved celebrity couples trained by their choreographers battling against each other in an entertaining dance competition. The show has celebrity judges like Saroj Khan, Malaika Arora Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Kunal Kohli, David Dhawan, Eesha Koppikar and Vaibhavi Merchant. The first season was extremely popular and so was the second one, however the third season seems to be losing its charm.
This was the Indian version of the hit show Dancing With the Stars. The first season had celebs like Mona Singh, Mahesh Manjrekar and Shweta Salve as participants and Farah Khan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Shilpa Shetty on the judges panel. The show is currently in its second season with Shiamak Davar, Urmila Matondkar and Jeetendra on the judging panel whereas the participants include celebs like actress Sonali Kulkarni, anchor Mini Mathur and singer Mika.
The advent of reality shows can be traced back to the forties, with shows like Allen Funt’s Candid Camera that captured candid reactions of people to humorous tricks and prank. TV shows without stringent story-lines soon became increasingly popular with the audience. Ordinary people captured in real-life situations seemed to amuse the audience, which was hitherto bombarded with ultra-dramatic soaps and movies.
Reality television broke the monotony to create interesting scripts and out of the box ideas that made them stand out from the run-of-the-mill shows. Although drama-lovers are still glued to their idiot boxes at prime time, reality shows are hogging the limelight big time.
Some of these reality shows are talent hunts, game shows, documentary-style shows, makeover shows, and some of them are just plain voyeurism personified. However different their concepts might be, all the reality shows intrinsically run on the same path. They put ordinary people or celebrities in real-life situations and allow peeping toms to enjoy the thrill of watching them!
Besides giving the audience the thrill and excitement of live unedited action, reality television allows the audience to be a part of the show. Take for example American Idol, or the moviemakers’ favorite reality show – On the Lot; these shows allow the audience to choose the winner through a voting system. Although the credibility of these voting systems is debated all the time, the interactivity factor definitely fetches the show a lot of following.
Types of Reality Shows
Reality shows with celebrities are a rage with the audience.
Examples: Dancing with the Stars, The Simple Life, and Big Brother
Reality shows that involve pranks played on ordinary people and capturing their candid reaction.
Examples:Candid Camera, Punk’d (Ashton Kutcher)
Reality shows that are based on games.
Examples: Who wants to be a Millionaire?, Hollywood Blocks, Weakest Link
Reality shows that are looking for talented people be it singers, dancers or even actors.
Example: American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Star Search
Shows that are synonymous with live on air interviews are listed under this category.
Example: The Apprentice, On the Lot (Directors), Project Runway (for fashion Designers), The Runway (Tommy Hilfiger), Hell’s Kitchen (Chefs)
Reality shows with makeover stories. Be it a personal or a home makeover, these shows are very popular with the audience.
Example: Monster House, What Not to Wear, While You Were Out
Reality shows that gave a platform for dating men and women on air.
Example: For Love or For Money, Perfect Match New York
A relatively new genre of reality television that involves interaction of distinct social groups.
Example: The Beauty and the Geek, Wife Swap, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé
A genre of TV shows that challenges the participants with difficult and weird tasks.
Example: Fear Factor, Who Dares Wins
Reality shows seem to be a huge trend on television, but anything that is popular has to bear the brunt of constant criticism and analysis. Controversies about these reality shows being ‘planned and scripted’ or the voting lines being a hoax, continue to rise every now and then. Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction, they say!