The history of reality shows in India dates back to 1995, when ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’, a singing competition began it’s hunt for the best singer in the country with some reputed names as the judges. Ever since reality shows began their journey, to not just become bigger and better but to give their viewers a get away from the scripted soap operas.
Talking of reality shows there are some classifications, i.e,
Celeb-Reality: Shows with celebrities competiting against each other or merely talking about their lives.
Examples: Jhalak dikh la ja, Nach baliye, Coffee with Karan, Rendezvous with Simi Garewal, Big Boss
Prank-Reality: Shows that involve pranks played on ordinary people and capturing their reactions.
Examples: MTV Bakra, Axe your Ex
Game Shows: Reality shows based on games.
Examples: Kaun Banega Crorepati, Minute to win it
Talent Hunts: Reality shows that hunt for talented people as singers, dancers, even chefs.
Example: Indian Idol, India’s Got Talent, Just Dance, Dance India Dance, Master Chef
Job-hunts: Shows that involve live on air interviews.
Example: On the Job,
Dating-Shows: Shows that give a platform for dating men and women on air.
Adventure/Fear based shows: A genre of TV shows that challenges the participants with tough and exclusive tasks.
Example: Fear Factor, Roadies, Khatron ke Khiladi
These shows are a make belief for the common public that their lives can be changed through a game show or a talent hunt or they can get closer to the lives of the stars. Initially when these shows began they had a sense of being genuine, however, of late we have scene innumerable instances where it is extremely evident that these so called reality shows are nothing but scripted dramas.
When stars in Big Boss raise fingers at each other’s character and background, they can possibly not be doing it for real on national television. Or when junior judges fight with senior ones in Sa re ga ma, they can surely not mean that much disrespect. Can you imagine in a country like India, where culture and tradition is always given utmost importance, two male participants of MTV Roadies are shown nude on international TV in Brazil in the name of a task! It is insane!
Programs like Rakhi ka insaaf and Big Boss have been accused of “vulgar language” and “objectionable scenes” by India’s information and broadcasting ministry, that ordered that their mid-evening slots be exchanged for 11pm-5am. Such a move, lead to a 30% drop in audiences, but it was essential.
It is instances like this, which have forced the people to believe that these ‘Reality’ shows are not ‘Real’. The truth of reality shows is that they care only about the money they could earn with this absurd publicity stunts. These stunts are often done to increase the TRP of a channel, which in return enables them to get more advertisements, which ultimately means more money.
Reality shows have caused social disturbances, adverse effects of on children, greater risk of stars as well as normal participants falling into depression and many more consequences. But the producers of these shows still take pride in saying that they have changed the lives of the common men. Which is actually true to some extent but it has caused a lot of destruction also.
However, having said all this, we also need to accept that it is because of us that these shows still run. The minute we stop watching them, they will have to be discontinued from being telecasted. So it is the common man who has to take a decision whether they want to watch scripted drama in the name of reality shows or some real stuff.