If reality shows are indication of our country’s performing talent, then we are nation bursting with singers, dancers and Jokers (or clowns if you like). I will just take an example of one of the regional channels that I follow. They have singing reality show, a dance reality show, a comedy reality show. I am sure this applies to every channel that operates at a national or regional level in this country. That will bring the number of performers to thousands who are entertaining us on everyday basis.
It has almost become a defacto template for every entertainment channel as they continue to host song, dance and comedy shows indicating a huge demand for these kinds of shows among Indian viewers. Effectively this makes us believe that every Indian is an art patron whose day will be incomplete without his daily dose of entertainment. Or is it because there is extraordinary talent that is waiting without a platform to showcase their skills? I wonder?
What could perhaps explain the incredible following for these kinds of shows? Certain trends emerge when you give it a closer look
- Source content: if one examines the nature of content that is part of the song and dance shows, one typically sees the movie based content that gets played out in the form of songs that are being sung or dances that are being choreographed. Given that Bollywood (or any other regional movie form) has huge popularity, one could see them riding on that popularity. A smart and conscious choice of not reinventing the wheel.
- People: This is a place where ordinary people are ushered in to the world of stardom. I guess this aspect of the show where you see ordinary people achieving celebrity-hood makes the narrative compelling. A typical rag to riches story wherein a commoner achieves extraordinary fortunes. One can see the attention paid to their personal stories, that are brought alive during these programmes. Many viewers are fixated on certain contestants not just because of their talent but also because of who they are.
- Drama: It is also noteworthy that all these shows are not just about performance and showcasing talent. There is a fair degree of drama that is played out around wins and losses, judges anger, contestants behaviour, problems surrounding their personal lives etc. The drama adds more flavour to these programmes and ensures interest levels are sustained on an ongong basis
- Humour: The other aspect is humour. In the past humour was confined to specific sections and larger public discourse was devoid of humour with a lot of serious talk. However today humour is more widespread with social media fuelling this trend with memes being the new order of expression. One positive thing of all these is that no one is spared. One could see this reflecting in these reality shows as well. The downside is the kind of humour that is in circulation. In an all-time low, calling people names, ridiculing one’s physical traits have found large scale acceptability under the guise of humour and have become the order of the day.
In a nutshell one could see content created with minimal effort, with ample drama and ridicule branded as humour finding mass acceptance across the country. Our country needs a ‘reality check’ on the idea of entertainment.