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Oct 07, 2012 at 03:55pm IST

Reality Shows: What's the perfect recipe for instant success

New Delhi: It is a well known fact that despite all the strenuous efforts of the tunnel-viewed self righteous moral police, love rocks and lovers rule. Same with heart-break stuff; titanic struggles of the common man against all odds; David versus Goliath tales, with the little man registering a heroic victory, moving, inspirational, empowering feats in the theatre of life, continue to be game-changers for us, the enthralled listeners.

Books and movies have tackled this template endlessly but our Reality Show wallahs (in the world of TV) are comparative newcomers, yet they seem to be getting it right with a super strike-rate. Be it India’s Got Talent, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Indian Oil, Sach Ka Saamna, KBC or now Satyameva Jayate, the formulae of getting the aam aadmi to come on stage and let it all hang out, (unleash/unspool his/her most telling tales, with a celeb, to provide them with the appropriate glam quotient, emotional support and heart-stopping catch-line) keeps slamming the target, each and every time.

Delhi-based social commentator Mayank Gaur is not surprised. “Indians love listening to stories, tales and anecdotes constantly enquiring phir kya hua if there is a pause, right? While happy-endings are preferred, moving, inspirational and empowering tales revealing unknown aspects of the human psyche can also be gripping because they are fascinating and eminently relatable to the aam aadmi. The strength of Aamir’s show is that it fearlessly stalks danger-zones and home-truths, areas generally considered inconvenient, uncomfortable, inappropriate – and therefore irrelevant. Incest, foeticide and child-abuse and domestic violence are only 4 classic examples. More will follow. The programme challenges the typical Log Kya Kahenge, Ghar ki Izzat, Sanskar, Maryada and Parampara hogwash, forces an apathetic Junta to think, and demands answers and explanations. It has allegedly made the Government and NGOs sit up and take notice and prompted the respective bodies to wake up and act. That is something.”

Reality Shows: What's the perfect recipe for success

Despite all the strenuous efforts of the tunnel-viewed self righteous moral police, love rocks and lovers rule.

Agrees communication specialist Priya Sahai, “These shows are so hugely popular because it kills two birds with one stone – fuses emotional realities with the props of entertainment that enriches and empowers the viewers.” Riding on the stirring and motivating line of Koi Bhai Insaan Chhota Nahin Hota, last year’s KBC got it right from the word go, with the Big B’s warm, sensitive interaction with the participants being a major high point. Who can forget his moving one-on-one with the widow of a farmer who committed suicide due to debts (Aparna Malikar) or of course the euphoric celebration of winner Sushil Kumar from Motihari, Bihar after he won the coveted Rs 5 crore jackpot. Aamir’s programme (Jab Dil Pe Lagegi Tab Baat Banegi), follows the same trajectory in terms of warm and sensitive interaction, although it concentrates on social evils.

Vibha Mundkur however is not so sure. A Dubai-based IT professional, the 30 year old insists on playing the Devil’s advocate. “Boss, it’s simple. Forget this great illogical ideology and getting the poor, neglected and ignored aam junta into the limelight for do din ki chandni (before chucking her back to ghor andhera) and lets cut to the chase. TV is today a monster mass-media vehicle and can be a fantastic revenue-generating source, if leveraged with insight and intelligence. The Channel – Star India – guys are no green horns. They obviously cased the joint, found a nice, juicy slot with the right populist vibes and politically correct stance and zeroed in. Thereafter they got the King of Causes n’ Concerns to front the show, Aamir Khan. Mr. Perfectionist brought with him a very high level of sincerity and credibility along with brand equity, ensuring solid sponsorship, Ad support and mass viewership. The themes lent themselves to ready-made rona-dhona audiences and participants – victims of social evils – unleashing shock, surprise, joy, tears, relief … the entire gamut of emotions. We Indians are perpetual suckers for emotions and with AK our passionate tear-leader, tsunami is the order of the day. More will follow – as will zooming TRPs and thundering profits. Very very smart move, this Satyameva… and all the other earlier reality shows involving the 3-handkerchief themes. They are all brilliantly titillating efforts allowing for the right dose of reality bites and mixing it up with glamour, entertainment and this (so called) big embrace enveloping our 1.2 billion Bharatvasis. This mass mesmeric hypnotism makes P.C. Sorcar and Houdini look like trainees.”

Cynical, skeptical, realistic, factual, pragmatic, iconoclastic – in which slot would your vote enter?