Reality TV shows are like the candies of entertainment. Many people become addicted to them in a jiffy. Because, hey we can’t deny just how entertaining they really are. But have you guys ever wondered what parts of these shows are actually real?
So, if you’re also curious about the same, read on to know what truly goes on behind the scenes of these shows.
1. I went on the BQC almost a decade ago. Won the national finals, and then the follow-up called the Champions of Champions. Good times. Been on a bunch of other TV Quiz shows during my school and college days. Honestly, not very interesting stories there, since we were all kids. The most exciting thing about these shows was how we got to travel for free, where we were put up in fancy hotels.
3. My friends had always complimented me on my singing and hence I decided to audition for Indian Idol. I don’t remember which season it was but it was in either 2011 or 2012. As I reached the Talkatora Indoor Stadium (Delhi) at around 8, I could see singers from all over the country in a long queue. We stood in the queue for hours, without any food or water, wiping off the sweat from our bodies. The crew captured the sweat, the worried looks and made us do some acts in groups on camera. When we got inside the stadium it was well past 3. I was damn tired. And we couldn’t even sit in the queue. Some people even fainted, vomited, had severe headaches and stomach pain because. Mini Mathur, the host of the show, came into the stadium an hour after we had all been ushered in and the shooting began. We were made to say lines, sing songs, look chirpy and excited when all we really wanted to do was relax! The crew pulled some people aside for their interviews etc. They then started sending us one by one to another room. I was excited to meet and click photos with Anu Malik and Sunidhi Chauhan. But, none of them were inside. The judges were random past year contestants who we couldn’t even recognise. Many people left the audition, fuming. Some even picked fights. Some were seriously ill, they had to be taken to the hospital. We were told that in round 3, we would only be judged by the real judges.
4. I guess am the right person to answer this as I do operational work. Basically, it works on strategy. Before launching any new show, a producer thinks about the budget, expenses and potential profit. Let us take examples from KBC. KBC is a knowledge game- it began in the 2000s. Eventually, it became a huge success, earning was sufficient to pay the winner and employees & the anchors. Moreover, it also entertained the consumer to such an extent, that it ranked high in TRP. But change is important, so a few tactics are used. Such as changing the anchor, adding sentiments, Including behind the scenes, social marketing, increasing sponsors, adding more clauses in anchor and participants’ contracts and cost-cutting. But to gain more consumers, sometimes the management adds drama to the show. For instance, exaggerating participants’ personal stories, favouring a certain contestant etc. Let me highlight the word “few.” But they also give fair chances to the common man.
5. In most of the auditions, not just in India but across the globe, the judges and hosts are not looking for talent but for emotional stories which they can telecast on the TV and emotionally connect to the audience through. which will also help them generate higher TRP for their show. Some years back one of my colleague went to MasterChef India, we all know his abilities as a cook since he was very passionate towards cooking and often used to bring cookies, biryani, chicken and other food items prepared by him and all of them were delicious. He told us his experience when he went to the audition of MasterChef India, in the first round he created a dish which everybody liked and he moved to the second round. In the second round, contestants had to theoretically explain how the dish was prepared, in that round although he did well and explained them everything from ingredients to cooking time but in the end the judges asked him “Do you have a story to share, something emotional or any heartbreaking or any hardships that you might have to go through to reach to this point anything of that sort?” to which his answer was “No, nothing emotional as such, I belong to a good middle-class family and I have a passion for cooking.” After that, they didn’t ask anything else and he was not selected for the 3rd round.
6. I had a chance to attend the shooting of Titan Antakshari, back in the 2000s. It was called Sansui Antakshari at that time. The episode, which was being shot, was a celebrity special. Which means, it featured Daler Mehendi, Usha Uthup etc. as its contestants. So, before the shoot started, the audience was instructed to wave or clap their hands or dance whenever the contestants sang. The audience was divided into 3 sections, Deewane, Parwaane and our team, Mastaane. Then, it was announced that members of the audience will be given a chance to ask their team a question. So, what they said was that the interested people can submit their questions and out of the entries received, the top 3 will get a chance to ask on camera. And, they’ll also receive goodies. But, the top 3 were already fixed. Because, one of the producers of the show was a customer of the company that my father worked in. He was the one who gave us passes to the show. Anyway, the producer had given a chit to my uncle. In that, a question was written. He was asked to memorize it. The host, Pallavi Joshi, eventually pointed to him and asked the question. I think the question was ‘what song did Dharmendra sing for Hema Malini which has the word train it?.’ The answer to this was ‘Koi Haseena Jab Rooth Jaati Hai’ from the movie Sholay. Pallavi Joshi then handed my uncle a big, gift-wrapped, empty box. We were told to collect the gift after the show was telecast, which was after some months. (And they did fulfil this promise after the telecast. My uncle got a nice crockery set, I think?) The other 2 people were also selected beforehand. The questioner from the Parwaane section was the daughter of the in-house band’s guitarist. And the one from the Deewane section was related to the chief guests.
7. What they never reveal on TV is the search is not for a singer but a particular character & personality type. If you stand out and have talent then you get in. If you have an unbelievable story that pans out, you’re in. If you’re pretty much as good as the next guy, best of luck with that. This painter in Season One of Indian Idol (jackass was responsible for a lot of talent going out due to sympathy votes) was average but had a story that cut across. I mean a painter who thinks he can become Kumar Sanu, hell yeah! Look at all the contestants who are in the top ten on any show. They’re characters that parts of India can connect with and one or two of them are actually talented the others are all there cause they have an awesome sob story and they can sing. You root for the underdog and we are an outright emotional race. It’s pretty much very scientific. Year on year you make the same shit and feed it to the country.
8. It’s impossible. The cameras are running the whole time and it’s scary as you know you are going to be watched, judged etc. all the time. You know usually actors are very conscious about their stomach and all. So during events, people tuck their tummy in but what will you do in the house where people are watching you constantly. You cannot act inside the house at all and nobody can give you a script.
– Digangana Suryavanshi tells Times of India
9. I reached the venue more out of casual interest. I joined the queue at 7 AM. There were people who had arrived at 5 AM. Others who had camped overnight. The gate opened at 1 PM, we were herded toward a stage on the school ground where the previous year’s winner Shriram was lip-syncing to Desi Boyz. A volunteer amongst us was sought to go and grab Shriram’s feet mid-performance and shout “I wanna be Indian Idol!” Reward promised: early audition. Sure enough, one aspirant fell for it, dozens of retakes later, the aspirant said he couldn’t do any more retakes. Assistants on the set abused him and threatened to remove him from auditions. All this went on till 5 pm. During this, I met two interesting aspirants. One med rep from an Indian village, who was dragging his right foot in a broken slipper. And another, who was blind. First, they asked the blind man to give a little speech about the history and status of his blindness, how does it feel to be blind etc. Then they asked about his family. He said he had a mother who was now dead, leaving him orphaned and all by himself. But when none of his responses flew, they drafted a “response” on his behalf and read it out. Roughly, “I miss my mother and I wish she were here to see me, but I hope that when I sing tonight she can hear me up there.” They made him repeat this even as his voice trembled. At around 8 PM, we were finally given badges and ushered in. No auditions yet. We were taken to the basketball court where for hours we were made to scream “WE LOVE INDIAN IDOL!” At this point one of the aspirants lost his shit and stood up, demanding to see where the auditions were happening, to see the judges. One of the crew members charged up to him and slapped him. SLAPPED. A. CONTESTANT. Yes, this happened. The med rep with that broken slipper I told you about sang atrociously. Through a half-open door of the room with the camera, I overheard his “auditioning.” The judges kept going “wah wah! now try a higher pitch?” That mockery went on. The judges kept asking him to keep taking a pitch “higher and louder” till his voice turned into frail shrieks. He came out in tears. I crashed out in Round 3 of the auditions close to midnight and was nearly relieved when it happened. But I went home satisfied that I got a taste of a show that on TV had always appeared alluring.
10. Before going on the reality show contestants are made to fill a bunch of forms, they are interviewed at least three to four times. You club all the information that the team has about you along with getting only four to five hours of sleep, having to ask for permission before going to the washroom and not being able to wear what you want together. Your phones are taken away from you, you don’t have any contact with the outside world whatsoever, you don’t have a moment to yourself, and you’re also with 10 people that you don’t know. So, in that situation, everybody feels like starting to throw hands. All those fights that you see between the contestants are not scripted. The second most common question people have is “Do reality TV show contestants get paid?” They do get paid, in exposure! Not only do reality TV shows not pay you, but they also send you a huge list of things that you need to bring along before you go on to the show. People end up spending above 30 to 50K just to buy all those things. And, I am specifically talking about newcomers, not people who are already established. In return for exposure, they literally want to exploit your entire life, they want you to share your deepest, darkest secrets, your trauma and your family drama. Because that helps them make their show more entertaining. Another thing about reality shows is that the judges are toxic and they are bullies.
11. One of my seniors went for the Bhopal audition for the upcoming season. she was looking so excited and happy in her WhatsApp status with the set of Indian Idol audition in the background. She even uploaded some videos of her song rehearsal. But, when I personally asked about the experience, she told me the truth which I was expecting to hear. She said “Arrey what audition, the whole thing was fake, everything was scripted and in the seats of judges, there were school teachers instead of the singers as we see on T.V. Everything was FAKE.”
Okay, clearly we see a very small amount of what goes on behind the cameras on TV sets of reality shows.