‘Veruthe ala Bharya,' a reality show on the newly-launched Mazhavil Manorama channel, has 16 families from all over Kerala, competing with each other to win the gala prize. Its catchy title (a play on the title of a popular film), high emotional quotient, and mix of entertainment and reality bytes have helped it gain coveted prime time space amongst viewers. Contestants of the show are 16 families from all over Kerala, competing with each other to win the gala prize. The high emotional quotient of the programme has made it a staple for many families that tune in to Malayalam shows on television. Satheesh Kumar, a veteran of many reality shows and television programmes, talks about the show that has turned its participants into celebrities and given centre-stage to families.

How the show came about

The film ‘Veruthe Oru Bharya' was a much-talked about movie because it focussed on how homemakers are usually taken for granted by their families. I thought of a programme that would be an extension of the movie. Instead of producing a show that was focussed on glamour or entertainment, I wanted to make one with a strong social content, one with a positive message. But I did not want to preach or highlight problems only. We decided to go in for a show that discussed family and relationships in an entertaining manner. My associate Chandrakala helps me formulate the different tasks for the participants.

The contestants

We had advertised for participants for the show. More than 1,500 applications were received and we shortlisted 100 from that. Of that, we selected the 16 participants. The criteria for selection included their interactive skills, communication skills, screen presence and, most importantly, their educational background. We wanted participants who would not shy away from honest discussions about marital life in contemporary Kerala. In fact, the programme is a slice of life.

Swetha Menon as hostess

As soon as we had conceptualised the format of the programme, I thought of Swetha Menon as the hostess. She was not convinced until I explained the entire concept of the show and its social component. Then she became enthusiastic about it. Swetha has a way of making people comfortable. Now, she says she is pleasantly surprised to see women, many of them homemakers, being articulate and assertive. Ashwini Rachael Mathew co-anchors the show along with Swetha.

Changing lives

As the show progresses, we will evaluate the men on different parameters. Although the judging so far was done by the wives, we will include a panel of experts in the elimination rounds. What is reassuring is the contestants' and viewers' positive reactions to the show. We have had couples rediscovering what is that makes their marriages tick or what is that causes heartburns in their relationship. Candid confessions from both husbands and wives give us food for thought and some of the statements of the judges are quite thought-provoking. After the first round was over, some of our contestants were deluged with advise on how to make noodles, on essential clothes to be packed for a trip, how to clean a kitchen and so on.

Candid takes

As for me, I don't think I would have survived even the first round. But the show has altered me and my way of thinking as well. Now I understand the kind of time and effort that my wife, Vidhu, puts in to make our house a home.