R eality shows based on Mappilappattu songs have become the staple of leading Malayalam television channels. The genre has a distinctive cultural identity and covers a variety of themes ranging from love, faith, heroism and marriage to satire and philosophy. These Mappilappattu reality shows have a wide reach in the Middle East, thanks to the burgeoning population of people from Malabar in these countries, and most channels have cashed in on this fact. One such show is ‘Kasavuthattam’ on Amrita TV that is currently in its second season. Aired Thursday to Saturday at 11 p.m. in India (9.30 p.m. in UAE), it is produced by Anuroop M.T. He talks about the show and explains how and why it clicks with the viewers. Excerpts…
Reaching out to viewers
We’ve had a good response for the first season of the show. The show is for contestants from West Asia. The current edition has 20 competitors who work or stay in places such as Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Auditions and shooting are in Dubai, even the grand finale of the first season was held in Dubai. We shoot 30 episodes or so in one schedule.
We have an eminent judging panel comprising V.M. Kutty, an expert on folk literature and Mappilappattu, V.T. Murali, an authority on music of Malabar, and Liji Francis, playback singer.
But then almost all Malayalam channels have a Mappilapattu reality show…
It is true. The genre is rich in terms of variety. Also, such shows have a large viewership in West Asia. This means there is always scope for such shows. Amrita TV had four reality shows targeting the Gulf countries. These shows are in a way a medium for these non-resident Keralites to reach out to their people back home. We have a contestant who has not come down to Kerala for the last five years or so. He cannot come home for another two years. But he is happy that his relatives in Kerala are watching him on television.
On spicing up such shows with dance and music
It is important for a reality show to be visually appealing. But that does not mean we are tampering with the genre. In fact, you cannot do that with Mappilappattu. Whatever dance and fun you see in such shows are part of certain rounds such as the ‘marriage round’, which means there would be an Oppana performance or a round devoted to film songs, in which we incorporate dance or music depending on the situation. We also have segments for traditional songs and another round called ‘Your Choice’ in which the contestants stick to traditional Mappila songs.
Your association with Amrita TV
I was associate director of reality shows such as ‘Super Star’ and ‘Super Dancer’. My first independent work for the channel was ‘Super Star Ultimate’. Then I produced ‘Samagam’ and now along with ‘Kasavuthattam’, I am also producing ‘Super Star Junior – 4’.