Fame in the time of reality TV
SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY
Thanks to the blitz of reality tube shows, many have tasted the apple of instant celebrity status.
REALITYCHECK "Indian Idol" finalist Amit Sana,".
Each instance is no less `filmy' but so real. Only the other day they were part of a faceless crowd. Just another soul among a billion faces. But a single stint with one of the umpteen reality television shows on air has brought their name to everyone's lips. Overnight, their lives have taken them to a high street they never knew before - arc lights descending on them all of a sudden, a tailor-made wardrobe `to look attractive on air', big bucks coming in, and celebrities suddenly on back-slapping terms and all ready to offer a hand to that dream career point.
And then the obvious extra plus - instant celebrity status.
Viva band members.
In a country where at least half the youths' dream is to become a Bollywood star, a recognisable face with a fat bank balance, in a nation where the dream to make big money overnight has made people across all age groups make as many as nine crore phone calls just to take part in a game show, these are no mean achievements. Be it Abhijeet Sawant of "Indian Idol", Ruprekha Banerjee and Qazi Touquer of "Fame Gurukul", Brajesh Dubey of "Kaun Banega Crorepati-2", Sunil Pal of "The Great Indian Laughter Challenge", Ravinder Upadhay of "Super Singer", Adity Sharma and Sarwar Ahuja of "Cine Star Ki Khoj", the Viva girls of Popstars, the Aasma band members of Popstars-2, Archana, Vijaya and Priyanka Shah of `Get Gorgeous' contests... all share a common saga of nobody-to-somebody-special, just in a flash.
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."
Harsh Vardhan Nawathe, the winner of the jackpot in "Kaun Banega Crorepati" with a cut-out of the show host Amitabh Bachchan.
The same story
Well, the names of these shows differ from person to person but it is this single tale that all claim to be their own when it comes to narrating the account of their instant-coffee-like makeover in life through the platform of the reality television shows. Almost all talk of "getting a direction in life."
For instance, take Qazi, the winner of "Fame Gurukul" on Sony TV. "My parents thought I am wasting my time instead of getting seriously into studies and thinking of a job. Before leaving my home at 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 ten and that will give a direction to my life," he says. Surely so, this super-confident, frizzy-haired froth of a 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.
Talking to Ruprekha, you gather that though she has been on stage as a singer, "this kind of mass recognition" has happened to her only because of "Fame Gurukul". And for that matter, almost all the contestants of the Star One show "The Great Indian Laughter Challenge" have been known comedians in their regions but got to the "national level" only because of 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 has come to know me," says the 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 the antics of all of them.
Talking of recognition, perhaps the tale of Ravinder Ravi, a contestant in "Indian Idol" is somewhat unique. From a house painter in a Punjab town, Ravi, despite losing the crown, became a familiar name across Sony TV viewers, which brings us to yet another interesting facet of these instant celebrities. That, it is not just the winners but the show finalists also manage to get a descent share of fame and name. Just recently has Sony TV dished out the show "Dus Ke Dus" featuring the top ten finalists of `Indian Idol', thus giving them yet another chance at refreshing public memory. Quite a few of these participants have already rolled out their first album despite losing the title. Some have even made a guest appearance in "Fame Gurukul".
"Indian Idol" winner Abhijit Sawant in a relaxed mood with the show judge Anu Malik.
And surely so to chase this dream come hundreds of youth to the early auditions of these reality shows now held in smaller cities. Despite their long queues and often disappointment, the process allows the wannabes to steal a moment of instant fame.
Apart from steering in sudden fame to participants and moolah to the channels and the production houses by selling these popular advertisement spots, well-known music director and `Indian Idol' judge Anu Malik says, they also do a `great service' to our youths.
"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. We have saved a lot of their valuable time," he says. Though, one just can't stop going back to yet another show judge, Javed Akhtar, who during one of the episodes of `Fame Gurukul' aired his discontent at the defeat of a deserving candidate.
"Well, the lucky one wins. Look at Amit Sana of `Indian Idol'. He was so good but he lost out when the viewers' votes were counted," defends 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."
Harsh Vardhan Nawathe
Well, getting back to talking about reality show gainers again, we learn that the winner of the first version of `KBC', Harsh Vardhan Nawathe, surely the first well-remembered reality show winner in India, is at present financing his management studies at an American university with the prize money. Beyond music and films, `The Great Indian Reality Show' is contributing to other fields of excellence too.
Send this article to Friends by
Chennai and Tamil Nadu