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Indian Reality Shows Getting Too Raw and Personal?

India Journal, News Feature, Posted: Aug 07, 2009

Did you ever have an affair with a married man? host Rajeev Khandelwal shoots the question to a teary contestant in the reality show Sach Ka Saamna while televisions docile bahu Shweta Tiwari shocks audiences by stripping to her bikini in Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao.

Welcome to the new age reality shows which compete with each other for the meanest tag and where nothing is personal anymore.

The latest trend in reality TV is that the shows are based on international formats and as the channels struggle to edge past in the war of TRPs, the new mantra of success is the more provocative, the better.

Sach Ka Saamna the show which sparked the entire debate asks 21 questions of the contestants which probe into their personal histories, the answers to which are immediately verified by a polygraph test ruling out any scope for a lie.

It has irked a Delhi-resident so much that he went to the High Court here alleging that the show is obscene and against Indian culture and ethos. The case has now been referred to a division bench.

The matter also caused a furore in Rajya Sabha with Kamal Akhtar of Samajwadi Party raising objection over the content saying obscene questions are asked by the anchor of the program.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued a show cause notice to the channel.

So is the show really against Indian ethos?

Actor Rajeev Khandelwal, who anchors the program, does not believe so. The tone of the show does not offend Indian sensibilities because it has been made keeping Indian audiences in mind. It is about testing a persons courage to speak out the truth and not demeaning, the actor said adding that the contestants have the option to leave the hot seat if they are not comfortable with a question.

Reality shows like MTVs Roadies, Splitsvilla, Sach Ka Saamna on Star Plus, Rakhi Ka Swayamvar on NDTV Imagine and Sony TVs Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao and Bigg Boss are based on international reality shows like Moment of Truth, The Bachelorette, Big Brother and Im A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here.

Sony TVs Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao, which has a host of B grade celebrities like Shweta Tiwari, Chetan Hansraj, pop singer Anaida, Aman Verma, battling it out to survive in a rain forest has raised eyebrows with its sexual undertones with the male and female stars camped in Malaysian rain forest openly discussing their past relationships.

However, Gurdip Bhangoo, Senior VP & Head of programming, Sony, defends the program by saying, What the contestants talk about is something we cannot direct or manipulate.

MTVs Roadies and Splitsvilla had their share of controversies including an MMS scandal allegedly involving two contestants and the use of foul language.

Splitsvillas former contestants have alleged that underage drinking was encouraged to trigger indecent behavior on screen for the sake of TRPs, a charged denied by the channel.

We dont have under age contestants and no alcohol because there is no money to buy alcohol, Ashish Patil, GM MTV India told a news channel.

Similarly, Bigg Boss which completed two successful seasons on Sony grabbed headlines with item girl Payal Rohatagi wearing a swimming costume and expletive ridden fights between Raja Chaudhary and Sambhavna Seth.

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