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Is there anything called reality TV?

A couple of days, rather weeks, back, I was with some close friends and family in Pune and we were just chatting away to glory on all kinds of topic. Now, with Mukki in the mix, any discussion is likely to get very lively very quickly. And so it happened that while we were chatting, the television was on and a programme called Antakshari was on air. The compere Anu Kapoor was chattering away to glory when suddenly he started ranting about Indian cricket fans being irresponsible and the new generation of Indians not being patriotic and so on. It was rather perplexing to see AK behave like that on TV and I got the distinct impression that the whole scene was scripted. To confirm my suspicion, the co-compere, a lady proceeded to walk off in a huff under rather dramatic circumstances.

The fracas that ensued on screen was ably matched by the one we witnessed amongst us with opinions sharply divided on whether this was a genuine bustup or merely a drama staged to enhance TRPs. Yours truly, among others, had ventured to suggest that the circumstances of the matter and the very manner in which the whole event was being telecast pointed towards it being a pre-planned sequence. Needless to say, the same was fiercely contested in some quarters.

I, and I am sure the rest of us, would have let matters rest at that. However, something that caught my eye while flipping channels late last night forced me to rake this topic up again. I am referring to a promo of the same show being aired currently which has a prominent wannabe boyband of India as guest participants. All three members are singing a song when suddenly Rohit Roy nudges one of the other members and, quite incredibly, total bedlam, quite reminiscent of the earlier fracas whose veracity we had debated upon, ensued.

All kinds of over dramatic dialogues were being bandied about. And appropriate camera placements captured the facial expressions participants who can comfortably be called the usual suspects by now.

If we all remember, Star Plus has recently launched a slew of programming with anchors poached from various popular show belonging to competing channels and has managed to significantly enhance its TRPs on Primetime to the direct detriment of Sony and Zee.

These events, choreographed well and portrayed beautifully by seasoned actors, are very clearly attempts at reviving the flagging viewership and nothing else. In today's era of cut-throat competition and extreme professionalism, it would be rather naive to believe that any emotional outburst will even happen on such shows, let alone being allowed to be telecast.

Lest we miss the whole point, its primetime television and everything is a drama, conceptualised for public consumption. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is real.

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What ab't Indian Idol?

Strictly made to order drama.. the bustup between Anu Malek and Javed Akhtar being a case in point.

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