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Celebrity Reality Shows: What's the reality quotient?
Reality shows seem to have gripped the imagination of the nation. Is it catering to the voyeuristic needs of the TV audiences? Are channels obsessed about their TRPs or is there anything ‘real’ in these shows? A probe.

REALITY SHOWS like Indian Idol, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and Star Voice of India are truly enigmatic. They have a magnetic effect on the audience and become hot topics of conversation doing rounds at dinner tables, college canteens and lunch hours. They focus on discovering and nurturing the hidden talent form various corners of India and transform the deserving candidates into professionals.

The effect of these reality shows is barely over that the audience is in the grip of celebrity reality shows like Nach Baliye and Jhalak Dikhlaja. These reality shows seem to be a publicity gimmick cashing upon the celebrities participating in them. Does this mean that the respective channels hosting these so-called celebrity reality shows are deceiving the audience just to boost their TRP ratings and generate publicity for the characters participating in them?

Antara Gujral, Media Manager from Gurgaon says, “Celebrity reality shows are the latest craze in the world of entertainment. They are also a great means of generating revenue and are helping various channels to raise their TRP ratings. Indian audiences are known for being dazzled by the charm of celebrities. They want to discover everything about them off-screen and celebrity reality shows present a more human version of the stars.”

Kaajal Mehra, Marketing Manager from Chandigarh says, “I don’t think there is anything real about the celebrity reality shows. They are nothing more than a revenue generating trick for the various television channels. All these people performing in them are celebrities and they are definitely doing this for money. There cannot be a comparison between reality talent hunt shows like Indian Idol, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Star Voice of India and celebrity reality shows as those platforms are meant for discovering new talent which is genuine but the latter is fake.”

Celebrity reality shows enable the audiences to relate with the stars in a rather realistic manner. It is on the sets of these shows that they get to see a non-glamourised version of the stars. People start believing in what is shown to them. They are happy to see the drama queens and kings of popular Indian soaps, desi pop stars and models without make-up and striving to win a competition. But what stands out is the fact that how real is all the back-stage drama depicted on-screen? Where do these shows stand in front of reality talent hunt shows and what makes the audience fall for them?

The other day, I was visiting a friend. I could hear her mother conversing over the phone, drooling over Rakhi Sawant and Kahmira Shah’s performances in Nach Baliye. She even cancelled a dinner visit on account of missing her favorite celebrity reality show in the night.

“People in our country are awed by celebrities,” says Manjeet Kaur, a Delhi based psychologist. “What turns them on is the fact that celebrities are as human as all of us and this is what makes the celebrity reality shows click. Brand celebrities always click with the audience and television channels know exactly how to cash upon their image.”

Ritesh Kapur, businessman says, “Everybody is under the spell of reality shows these days. It is a fact that if the celebrity tag is attached to any show it is bound to take -off. Even reality talent hunt shows could not have done so well without celebrity judges. India is a star-struck nation.  People are always eager to know what’s happening in the personal lives of the stars. Celebrity reality shows might be a publicity stunt but they definitely help the viewers relate with the stars.”

Arun Kumar, a Mumbai based executive says, “Shows like Indian Idol are a great platform for discovering hidden talent. What makes them tick is the curiosity among viewers and the desire to participate in the final judgment. In celebrity reality shows again, they feel they can help their favorite stars win through public votes.”

Arjun Choudhary, a real estate agent says, “Celebrity reality shows are dumb gimmicks that clearly fool the audience. They are good for increasing the TRP ratings of various channels and increasing the revenue of Telecom companies. The shows seem to have tie-ups with all major telecom companies and help them generate revenue as well. I pity the poor people who end up voting for their favorite stars as they don’t even realise that they are being bluffed.”

Henna Walia, housewife says, “I feel that celebrity reality shows should not be given the same weightage as talent hunt shows but they are not a medium to fool people. I agree that celebrities are participating in these shows from all walks of life but then they also have to face tough competition from each other. They are also human at the end. I can only say that these shows are not entirely made-up but also have some shades of reality.”

Celebrity reality shows are not only a mode of entertainment but are also backed with controversies and target the emotions of the audience. If you see your favorite star dancing with a broken foot or back-pain, you are compelled to vote. Moreover, these shows depict stars appealing for votes as if the competition means the world to them. Certain stars in the past have done whatever they could to win these competitions.

Mahinder Chawla, restaurateur says, “I have noticed that when celebrity shows are on, people in my restaurant tend to get lost in them. I think shows like Indian Idol were great but celebrity reality shows somehow seem faked. They make me wonder how fair the competition actually is.”

Reality shows seem to be the new age entertainment recipe. They might be selling controversies or cashing upon people’s emotions, but at the end of the day they are popular shows with an ever-growing TRP rating.


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rakhi sawant
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