FRIDAY REVIEW

Fame in the time of reality TV

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

Band members of Viva

Band members of Viva  

It may look `filmy' but it isn't. Just another person among the faceless crowd, a stint with one of the umpteen reality television shows and they are households names. Overnight they are on the fast street, with spotlights on them. A made-to-order wardrobe, big bucks coming in and back slapping terms with celebrities.

It all looks like a dream, an instant celebrity status. In a country where half its youth want to become either a Bollywood star or a recognised figure with a hefty bank balance, or the dream of taking a short cut to big money, people cutting across all age groups making as many as nine crore phone calls to participate in a game show.

Be it Abhijeet Sawant of `Indian Idol' Brajesh Dubey of `Kaun Banega Crorepati,' Adity Sharma and Sarwar Ahuja of `Cine Star Ki Khoj' or Priyanka Shah of `Get Gorgeous' contest, all share a saga of a nobody to a somebody, in a flash.

Indian idol winner Abhijit Sawant and contestant Amit Sana

Indian idol winner Abhijit Sawant and contestant Amit Sana  

Says Abhijeet, "If not for `Indian Idol', I would have been another neighbourhood boy in a nondescript Mulund colony of Mumbai. You wouldn't have come to speak to me, I wouldn't have been posing for funky pictures. Now offers for playback singing are coming in left and right. People already recognise me on the street, I have money in my bank account that I couldn't dream of six months back."

While the names of the show may differ from person to person, the story is the same. All speak of how the shows have given them a `direction in life'.

For instance, take Qazi, the winner of `Fame Gurukul.' "My parents thought I am wasting my time instead of getting seriously into studies and thinking of a job. Before leaving my home in Srinagar to take part in the show, I told my mother, don't worry, I will do something! If not the winner, I will surely be in the top 10 and that will give a direction to my life," he says. True to his word, this super-confident, frizzy-haired boy, who won the title on the sheer strength of viewer support, has his career charted out, at least for the time being in terms of singing offers and a healthy bank account along with his co-winner Ruprekha Banerjee of Kolkata.

According to Ruprekha, though she has been on stage as a singer, "this kind of mass recognition" has happened to her only because of `Fame Gurukul'. The contestants of the show `The Great Indian Laughter Challenge' are known as comedians in their respective regions but has received "national level" recognition through reality TV.

"This show has given me the push I was waiting for. I have been a recognised face in local functions but my dream was to reach Bollywood. Now, everyone knows me," says the `The Great Indian Laughter Challenge' show winner Sunil Pal. Such is the TRP-raking humour of Pal and his co-contestants that the channel has rolled out yet another show `The Great Indian Laughter Challenge Masters' featuring their antics .

While the winners are household names, the finalists too get their share of fame. Quite a few of these finalists have rolled out their first album despite losing the crown.

To chase these dreams come hundreds of youth to auditions held at now, even the smaller cities. Despite the long queues and often disappointment, the process permits the wannabe a shot stint under the limelight.

Apart from the sudden rise to fame for the participants and the `moolah' it rakes for the channels, well-known music director and `Indian Idol' judge Anu Malik feels they are doing a `great service' to the youth.

winner of the jackpot in KBC-2 Brajesh Dubey.

winner of the jackpot in KBC-2 Brajesh Dubey.  

"So many parents have come to me saying that I did a great deal of good to their kids by rejecting them. Thanks to `Indian Idol', they at least have come to know that they can do anything better than singing.

"The lucky one wins. Look at Amit Sana of `Indian Idol'. He was good but he lost out when the viewers' votes were counted," says Anu. Though this claim of garnering votes for participants, often through the vague system of SMSes, is largely doubted, Anu claims, "in the case of `Indian Idol', more votes were cast from landlines than through SMSes."