Reality shows have been a constant subject of discussion, even amazement in the Indian context, for most of this decade. Right from Kaun Banega Crorepati – the Indian adaptation of Who wants to be a Millionaire to the immensely popular Sa Re Ga Ma, to Indian Idol and most recently Rakhi ka Swayamvar- the reality shows have captured the nation’s imagination in more ways than one. This post tries to summarize the reasons for success of reality shows.
While Indian reality shows like Antakshari, Sa Re Ga Ma, Snakes and Ladders were extremely popular before as well, ‘Reality show era‘ on Indian Television was started by Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC). The show was truly pathbreaking in many ways. What really pulled the audiences to this particular show was:
- Huge money at stake ( 10 mn Rupees is a huge amount)
- The greatest Indian superstar (arguably) as anchor – Amitabh Bachchan
- The positioning as a prime time daily show
The show was chiefly instrumental in Star Plus catapulting Zee TV to the Number 1 slot in the Indian TV market. After this, there was a steady stream of reality shows. Some shows I can remember fondly are Boogie Woogie, Great Indian Laughter Challenge, Indian Idol . The Indian Idol, I must say reached and touched tens of millions of Indian hearts and was an extremely profitable show for SET India – the channel which hosted the show. The format in itself was extremely endearing and audiences voted in droves to keep their favorite contestant on the show. This format was adopted by almost every show after Indian idol. It was this innovative way of connecting with audiences that increased the popularity of Indian idol.
So, whats the real reason for the popularity of these reality shows?
For one, they manage to strike an emotional chord with the audiences.At the end of it all, audiences are emotional beings. If you get them hooked to something that is refreshingly different from the fiction dramas, ( Saas Bahu serials in Indian parlance) they are bound to respond in a positive manner. Every singing competition – be it Sa Re Ga Ma or Indian Idol, did just that and the results are there for one and all to see.
Secondly, they involve real people – someone the audience can relate to. The audiences can laugh, cry, get delighted or disappointed with the contestants on the show.The audiences get surprised even shocked to know how talented people really are. Shows like MTV roadies and KBC became instant hits because of this.
Thirdly, the whole ‘ What could have been‘ conjecture. This is probably an extension of the last point, but its equally important. This conjecture is perhaps the reason why there is such involvement in the reality shows. How often have we heard of statements like ‘Had I been in his place, I would surely have won double the money!’ or ‘I wouldn’t have sung this song at such a critical juncture in the show’ . Clearly, the shows have succeeded in making the audience believe that everyone watching the show has a star hidden in them. That feeling is what pulls the audience to the reality shows in my opinion.
Fourthly, the blending two sides of the same coin – fantasy and reality . For more than 90% of population, earning 1 million in an year is a dream. The reality shows give you reasons to dream. When you see an IAS aspirant like Harshwardhan win 1 crore on television, the 100 crore population got reasons to dream, dream big. It took the audiences into a world of fantasy, where they could live ‘happily ever after’. The mere possibility of that happening is enough for most audiences to keep watching these shows.
And finally and most importantly, quality content. The shows are responsible for bringing to light many great talents. The world of singing in particular has been indebted to the reality show for ‘glamorising’ it. The content is so good on reality shows, that its almost compelling for any discerning viewer to watch it.
The future is indeed promising for this genre on television. But now, TV is literally inundated with ‘reality’. The shows in future should be different, innovative and find newer ways of engaging with the audiences. Shows will have to exploit newer media of mass communication- the internet, the mobile, even 3G to remain cutting edge in this ‘real’ world!
PS: from tomorrow we are starting the quiz contest. Do read the rules of the quiz contest here – Strat.in Quiz Contest .