Wednesday was a holiday for me. Ram Navami. Turned out to be a blessing, considering I had decided to put me through the ordeal of auditioning for a reality show. By the end of this post, I’m more than sure you’ll know as to what programme I refer.
Apart from all the melodrama of “When you enter, shout and show your madness for the show [even if you’re not really crazy about it],” and “at the count of three, shout ‘AAMCHEEE MUMMBAIIIIIIII!!!!” I began to realise what television reality shows are all about.
Honestly, this experience was to know first hand the behind-the-scenes of reality TV. To say the least, it turned out to be fun. They made sure no one was waiting too long – not in one place anyway. First it was an hour outside the gates; the about half an hour inside; another two hours on the stadium steps and finally less than fifteen minutes in the final lap. The heat was bad enough, so they couldn’t have got too many retakes on stampeding crowds or youth shouting the name of the show or the name of the city to which they belonged or were auditioning from.
Some of it was plain inane. Some of it was plain touching. Most of it, as I said, fun. Winners of the first season came in to talk to the crowds and cheer them, sing with them, dole out clichés such as “Singer के लिए गाना ही खाना होता है” and rubbish time-pass like that to discourage people from being seen eating thepla or opening biscuit packets and sipping on Frooti on camera.
I learnt two important lessons though. If you wanna do well on a new-singing-talent reality show, you’ve got to know “कुछ new Sunidhi-Shreya fast songs” [or whoever the male equivalent is for the men] and these shows aren’t looking for good singers so much as great performers.
Here’s an excerpt of my conversation with a pal post-audition, who guided me on my choice of music – this is not to begrudge him.
Piyush: how did it go?
Priyanca: pretty fun
met so many weird people man
Piyush: what kinda weird?
Priyanca: people who'd appeared for auditions in other cities and had come here just to see how it was here
one from ahm
one from kolkata
these toh i met
many more from outside
people from all sorts'a chhotu places who'd travelled just for this ya
plus i have new found respect for tv crews
Piyush: being part of a tv crew is rather painful
and to be so patient and courteous to people
SO MANY PEOPLE
the kind'a functions they have to carry out
the way they take care of people
the way they communicate
they all know it's all fickle
it's all downright dumb n stupid
Priyanca: and the kind'a things that bother people
Priyanca: such innocent people...
Piyush: thy are all lured to be the bait u know
the audience on this side of the TV rates it high seeing so many ppl
I’ve done this before, but that was another time, another era - when music shows still preferred to test people on their vocal chords, not their suitability to camera angles, “base”, whether they know what are the latest chartbusters on FM radio.
I’ve been asked often why I wouldn’t go in for something like this, and I’d always dismiss it with “Who wants to be insulted in public by a bunch of show people who don’t know jack shit about music?” Today I can probably give a more substantial answer. Who has the patience? The waiting can get to you. People will get friendly and when you’ve exhausted conversation, they’ll ask, “आप इतना book क्यूँ पढ़ते हो?” And one really searches within for a satisfactory-yet-not-offensive answer. And to listen to a woman repeating a dozen times in half an hour, “toilet जाना है” is NOT FUNNY.
The heat gets to you. The waiting gets to you. The cameras get to you. Like all miraculous things in life, this too has no real criteria for who’ll be The Chosen One.