It is no longer arguable that media feeds on controversy and sensationalism. Nevertheless, no longer do the paparazzi have to break through windowpanes in search of that spicy footage. After all this is being served to them on a platter by our countless reality shows.
The year 2008 has been a dampener for reality shows. Even the big guns like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge have been way below their best. With the TRPs not coming, it’s been observed that reality shows are resorting to controversy and sensationalism in a bid to attract more eyeballs. So we get see more squabbling judges, contestants spitting venom against each other and believe it or not a few celebs nearly exchanged blows.
- Zee TV - Sa Re Ga Ma Pa
While such dramatics are expected from the actors and aam junta who participate in reality shows, but when the nation’s cricketers star behaving in such manner then it begs the question whether there’s any reality in our reality shows.
However are such pyrotechnics really appreciated by the viewers? Despite such antics the TRPs are still on the decline.
If the staggering TRPs are an indication, then such behaviour is all the more driving the viewer away. Let’s see what the custodians of these reality shows have to say.
- Chetan Hansraj slaps co-contestant Puneet in 9X’s Kaun Jeetega Bollywood Ka Ticket.
- Pakistani contestants on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009 express their unhappiness over alleged preferential treatment towards Debojit, an autistic child, only to apologise upon realising their mistake.
- Voice of India host Shaan threatened to quit the show if good singers missed the cut on account of public voting. The production house and the channel relented and thus rules were tweaked.
- Jasveer Kaur allegedly faked an injury as an excuse for her below par performance in Saas vs Bahu. Judge Aroona Irani wasn’t amused by her antics and disqualified her.
- A few days ago, it is declared that Karishma Tanna has broken her foot and thus she’s unlikely to take further part in Zara Nach Ke Dikha. However, her fracture is healed overnight and in the next episode Karishma dances like a gazelle. The male contestants allege that the judges Malaika Arora and Chunky Pandey favour the girls.
- Abhijeet Bhattacharya decides to quit Ek Se Badhkar Ek in the wake of Pakistani contestant Mussarat Abbas being given a wild card entry mid-way through the show. However, few days later he changes his decision. Later on, Mussarat is eliminated as his partner Sanober Kabir fails to turn up.
Music director Pritam, who is currently adjudicating Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2009, says, “Personally, I do not endorse such dramatics. Though sometimes things do occur with the flow. However, at the end of the day the only thing that will get you eyeballs is the quality of singing. I’ve always advised all participants to simply concentrate on their singing.”
Adding further he says, “Today, there are so many channels; hundreds of reality shows thus the viewership is segregated. Now are controversies created to improve TRPs, I really don’t know whether it helps. Personally, I find all of this very embarrassing.”
“Whether one likes it or not, the fact is that such controversies are here to stay. The only worry is that if this becomes a routine then eventually viewers will get tired of it,” Chetan sighed.
Actor Karan Patel, who made news for his tiff with Twinkle Bajpai in the same 9X show, says, “Just because a Chetan Hansraj slaps somebody or I quarrelled with Twinkle doesn’t mean that other shows too start indulging into the same. Unfortunately, controversies have now become a trend. So much so that it now gives a false impression that reality shows are scripted. Personally, I’m not entirely against showing such footage. After all, the channel too wants its TRPs going.”
So, is it the channel that is at fault? Shouldn’t it exercise restraint?
A channel insider says, “You have your dal and roti with your pickle. But it’s important to have the pickle in the right quantity. One shouldn’t cross the line of decency. I don’t know about other channels but we don’t follow any scripts on our channel. Now whether this footage makes for great family viewing, I’d say no. Honestly, I wouldn’t like to watch Bigg Boss or a Bollywood Ka Ticket with my family.”
Commenting on whether these controversies help rake in TRPs, our source sighs, “This totally depends on that point of time. Obviously, with such scenes occurring across the board, viewer interest is bound to decline. What further hurts the channel is the repeat of such footage across news (regional) channels. So when a viewer can see the same thing a number of times on news channels, why would he/she see our show?”
With the channel eyeing TRPs, are the production houses simply happy to cater to their demand? Director, producer Gajendrra Singh, whose shows are often littered with controversies, says, “There are too many reality shows currently running on television and everybody wants to drive attention to their show but only creativity can help you achieve it. No drama and controversies are created because today the audience is smart enough to understand and I believe you cannot cheat them.”
With no party taking the blame, it looks like the drama will continue. However, one must not forget that it is the viewer who holds the remote.