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Dance Shows on TV – To Be or Not To Be?

R Jayaraman

Author: R Jayaraman

Date: Mon, 2016-08-22 14:17

Recently I saw an article in a newspaper website where Chetan Bhagat has written something about the “Reality Dance Shows." The term “Reality Show" is a contradiction, an oxymoron, with less oxygen than what the “oxy” could indicate. Participants are pre-decided, they practise their lives off, come to the venue fully prepared, some even discuss a few things with the judges, and so on. If this is “reality” then I will have nothing of it. At best one can say that such shows are Live shows, even that is probably not correct, as they are all pre-recorded. Reality is when things happen spontaneously, when no one announces them, least of all judges them.

I was tempted to read the blog by Chetan Bhagat. I did and was not convinced that it was actually written by him. Don’t ask me why, the style was not his, that is my overall view. Still, the point that was being blogged about was that dance should not be judged. If not then who will watch them? How can someone make money out of them? The whole idea of judging is not only to create some excitement and competition but to create a whole ambience with emotions riding high, with a studio audience (are they coached prior to the show?) seemingly rapturous, aided ably by some of the judges who, as if on cue, do many things to heat up the happenings on the stage. To an extent that sometimes you start wondering whether there is more action amongst the judges than the action on the stage. Changing reality?

A dance reality show is an experience, and should not be judged for anything else. The TRP is one instrument, to which the TV channels pay a lot of attention, but other things, like good dance moves, the quality of the moves, the sublimity quotient, the index of how positive reactions were generated, and, finally, did everyone go home with a sense of well being and goodness, are other aspects which need to be considered. And not get entangled into arguments as to how the judges were poor in their judgment, how the judges did what the TV channel asked them to do, how things were “pre-fixed" and so on. But you be the judge as to what really happens after the show is over?

While the competition brings about better preparation, newer ideas, revealing newer moves and leads to higher levels of co-ordination, there are other aspects. Chetan blogs mainly based on his personal experiences. But I think that is keeping the circle of experience too close to one's chest and, when blogging about a reality show, some broader vistas could be viewed and used to enrich content. Else there is a fear that the reality of the dance shows may never really come close to reality. Let's keep dancing and blogging!

 

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The article brought to debate is indeed need of the hour. Each & every channel brings the reality show in one or another form. These Shows are kind of television shows or programs which in real life or scripted form feature common people as well as celebrities Situations/environment or a mix of both real and scripted incidents. Till 1940’s reality shows authentic. This was because it was a new concept and as such manipulation was limited for creation of unusual situations for ordinary citizens. However, the reality shows of today have distorted the reality. The mockery of ‘Reality Shows’ is that even though they are known as ‘Reality Based Shows’; most of them are ‘Unreal’. There are always two sides of coin. While one side tells positive story in terms of bringing out talent (Unlocking the human potential). Even the participants are coming from small towns, which normally do not get chance to perform & dies at local level, these shows gives opportunity to such talent at young age. Many stories of successful celebrities ( singers , comedians, dancers etc.) in today’s era confirms this fact that such shows has changed their life by giving them opportunity to perform in reality shows. While other side tells different story of Pre-fixed shows, having commercial motive of improving TRP , Creates sentimental / emotional pressure on participants. I feel following The effects of reality shows are multi-pronged, far reaching and unpredictable. Though not all reality shows are same but the ones which indulge in creating fake realities are the ones to blame the most. These are the shows which create influencing negativity in the society. Most of the reality shows are created purely for profit without realizing the future consequences on the mind-sets of the people at large, especially the young genre. Even the so , called ‘Game Shows’ are nothing but promoters of greed, where the participants are playing to the tunes of how much they have won, even if it means embarrassment., however the ones without any drama and other negative emotions, do have the benefits as listed below. • Exposure to hidden talent • Award & prizes • Experience • Achievement & recognition • Celebdom to Unknown Celebrities • Opportunity for livelihood • Revenue generation • Better understanding of the world Some of the disadvantages listed below raise need for concern. • Exploitation • Deviate youth mentality • False image of life • Erosion of ethical & moral values • Psychological disorders • Wastage of time & energy It is very much evident from the above mentioned pros and cons of reality shows, that the demerits of reality shows shadows the merits. However, if not eradicated there are certain measures which can be taken to limit and prevent the malice which these shows encourage to a certain extent. Effects of reality shows can be curbed through positive role of media, strict laws, heavy penalties on offenders, censoring or banning etc.

As a researcher and television content strategist and I have seen the shift in content consumption of the viewers, 5 years back reality shows were purely based on talent and action while today it’s full on scripted drama and forceful emotional background stories that has led to overall drop in viewership of reality. AS per the recent research over dramatizing the show is big turn off for the audience, to find the right balance is critical in content creation so make it reality and not a daily soap. In recent times none of the channels have come with any dance reality format, be it Zee with it’s DID, Star plus super dancer that doomed in terms of ratings and Nach baliye that been working only due to celebrities where most of the things are rigged. Few countries like US, UK and Australia have continued to define the reality format with their shows like “You think you can dance” and “Master Chef Australia” keep the offering intact and not fidgeting with core offering of the show with overdose of drama and emotion. Indian content production houses should learn from them as audience is today far more versed with international content and evolved to make out the difference between scripted and real content.

Agree that the term ‘reality’ doesn’t suit reality shows. The format itself is now jaded and the novelty of such shows is completely lost. However, there are multiple stakeholders with vested interests here because of whom such shows are still running successfully. General entertainment TV channels pull these formats along be it dancing, singing and other such contests as it still delivers the ratings and brings in the revenues. A prime time slot on weekends surely works. The target audience’s appointment viewing corroborates with that of the TV channels who are able to gauge the audience pulse and deliver them to the advertisers. The above is the classical media model with predictable business interests for the media channel and the advertisers. The other stakeholders are in it for personal reasons, and a glance at them might be intriguing and interesting: - The participants. What is in it for them really, apart from the 15 minutes or 15 episodes (depending on how far they go on the show) of fame? Such shows do not guarantee any future in their field of performing arts. In fact, the calibre of performance is in no way a measure of success or a career opportunity. There are way too many talented people and to look at these shows as a stepping stone to a bright future as an actor, dancer or playback singer would be foolish. Still, ‘what if I am that one in a million who will make it’, is what drives these starry eyed talents to participate. - The judges. Great exposure on screen as most of them have been there done that, revelling in past or little glory or have always been behind the scenes. Whatever the reason for them being chosen as judges apart from their skill, this is a brilliant way for them to be in the forefront, be recognised and remain relevant. This can give them the lead of other judging or performing events and promotions. - The celebrity guests. Purely come for promoting their movie release; it serves the purpose as part of their marketing promo plan. - The parents of the kids who participate in kids’ reality shows. Pushing and imposing their desires, their unfulfilled dreams through their children. Not all but most of the parents do, and if they do, its desperation and robbing kids of what they really want to do. - The manufactured crowd sitting in the studio as ‘live’ audience. They sit for 8 to 10 hours at a stretch and are there either because they are related to the participants or are purely fascinated by the stars and judges, wanting their faces to appear on the screen. Reality shows are not going anywhere for now (how you want to interpret this last line is up to you ).

throw some light on how these reality shows are affecting the children who participate in these shows. The employment of child actors was always common in television programs, but the numbers has significantly increased in the last 2 decades owing to exponential increase in number of channels. But the issue with children working in television industry is tricky as they are not considered as child labour. This is due to artist status given to these children. But these children are made to practice long hours. They are expected to shoot as per the schedule and they do even if they are not feeling that well. Little girls showing their dance moves to racy item numbers in dresses which does not suit their age or little boys being asked what they would do if they go out on a date is different level altogether. No channel or program is focussing on the affect such things will have on these children. On the other hand, there are parents who are putting additional pressure on their children to participate in such programs, to be in the limelight. These children are compromising on their education to participate in such reality shows. They undergo lot of stress during the production. The harsh words from the judges is also a cause of distress for these young participants who don’t have the maturity to take such judgements. The fear of rejection is another element which adversely affect these children. These children are experience fame at such early ages which may or may not last long. For such children, it’s very difficult to cope up with the situation and they end up experiencing frustrations. The reality shows are here to stay and we as an audience will continue to watch these shows. But the question remains – is it a form of child labour?

Dance Reality Shows – People either love them or hate them; there’s no middle ground. As the “reality” term suggests realness, there is not much reality of live performance and broadcasting in these shows. The pre-recorded performance with the number of retakes along with addition of forced arguments and written script really diminishes the meaning of the term reality in TV shows. It is more of a recorded and edited live performance with the objective of increasing its TRP with the end result being earning revenue. As far as the content is concerned, I believe that these dance shows actually gives a platform for the people and especially kids to showcase their talents which would have been either subdued or died down with the pressure of academics. I am always up for the children dance shows where parents try to encourage their children to gain confidence, spirit and exposure; obviously not at the expense of their studies. But I am against those parents who try to use their children as a source of gaining fame and super-stardom. Some parents deliberately try to make their children learn this art form and then put them up in front of the whole world to perform. Such acts not only take away their children’s freedom to choose but also destroys their childhood and confidence level. Dance reality shows not only promotes the talent of participants but also encourages the viewers to act upon their skill and enhance it. Looking back at my personal experience, I have learned a few dance moves from watching these dance shows thinking that if such little ones can do it, then why cannot I? Nowadays, there are various type of dance forms but seeing it from a layman’s perspective, it’s more of a gymnastics dance with jumping, flying and rolling moves. Gone are the days of simpler dance moves of Govinda’s (Bollywood Actor) era, where the simplicity of learning dance steps was embedded in our day-to-day movements. To sum up, Reality shows are mindless superficial entertainment. The viewers and critics need not invest much of their time in thinking and deciding about the nature and fate of these dance shows. Dance reality shows have changed the destinies of many ordinary people who are now choreographing Bollywood films, anchoring shows and even acting as a judge in other dance shows. Therefore, no matter how many questions you pose against these reality shows, people will keep participating in these dance shows to showcase their talents and audience will keep watching them since these shows cater to some family bonding time where members of all age groups sits and watch this show together unlike the daily soap operas!!

Hello Sir! This article reminisces memories from my engineering days when we used to debate if the telecasted reality shows have any element of reality in them. This article goes beyond that point to explain how reality show judges add to the drama of these shows. To start with the former argument, I agree to the viewpoint that there is very little reality left in the modern-day reality shows. Then why are these shows even being aired? There are a number of reasons why these shows end up finding a place in the prime-time slots of major television channel networks. Firstly, these reality shows are TRP churners for channels who bank on the mundane daily soaps for sustaining their positions throughout the year competing with rival channels to come up with soaps with similar storylines in the same time slots. For example, if a mythological show is doing well on one of the channels, the rival channel in no time comes up with a mythological show on some other character and strategically places it in the same time slot. Reality shows are big ticket shows for such channels. Secondly, getting Salman Khan to host ‘Bigg Boss’ or Priety Zinta to judge ‘Nach Baliye’ becomes a source to attract viewership. No matter how hard these channels try to project these as authentic, the unwarranted drama gives it away in no time. Be it the pre-decided fights on ‘Roadies’ or the pre-agreed disagreement between two judges from different entertainment segments, everything looks fabricated. And when you think from the point of view of the channel head, why wouldn’t you want these things to happen? When you are getting your promotional material to pull in new viewers and keep the existing viewers hooked on to the show, why not do it? But these are still at the celebrity level where everything is contractual. Moving on to the second aspect of the article- The dance reality shows. There are a number of viewers who watch these shows with the hope to learn new techniques and improve their dancing skills. But are these shows the right medium? A couple of judges on the panel of the dance reality show may not even be remotely associated to dance all their life (Eg. Karan Johar on ‘Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa’) but are roped in for the glamour quotient and the PR buzz that they generate by their presence on the show. The drama between the judges somewhere kills the comments coming from credible judges which ought to be beneficial to the contestants and the viewers as well. We have classic examples of dance reality shows like ‘Boogie Woogie’ which purely worked due to their authenticity and the content of the show. So, here comes in the point where I too probably disagree with what Chetan Bhagat has penned down in his article. If for a moment we keep aside the views of the judges and how they behave, a dance reality show should work on the quality of the content and how the contestants and viewers can be benefitted by the show. And when a writer like Chetan Bhagat judges a dance reality show and writes about an altogether different show from a rival channel, we can expect him to bring in the perspective of how competing brings out the best in the contestants rather than looking at it as a means of pressure resulting in the contestant’s elimination. The whole idea of competing is that the contestants work hard to put together a show never seen before by the viewers because there are some contestants who appear on these shows and end up becoming role models for some viewers in a particular dance form (Eg. ‘Cockroach’ from Dance India Dance who has aced his way ahead to become a judge himself!). Unless this is achieved, these shows will continue to be TRP churners and never reach their ‘real’ audience anytime soon.

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