‘Voyeurism has led to rise of TV reality shows’

June 26th, 2010 - 12:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) There’s a flood of reality shows on television thanks to increasing voyeurism, but the excitement will wear off once the power of imagination steers the video content of the future with more dramas based on real-life scenarios, says former MTV host-turned-writer Omkar Sane, whose new book is on the ‘idiot box’.

“The downslide in the television content has been because of the rising voyeurism that has led to a flood of reality shows in the last three years,” says Sane, whose book is called “Coming Soon. The End: The Reality Show Called Television”.

“Everyone is so interested in what’s going on in the other’s life. If there’s an accident, 30 people would gather at the site and want to know what is going to happen. Whoever invented reality television was a genius. Reality shows have done well because that is where the TRP is. Even the Mumbai attacks turned into a reality show,” the 25-year-old author told IANS.

Reality shows are a western fad, according to him. “It was like ‘when the west sneezes, India catches cold’. The ‘Indian Idol’ followed the ‘American Idol’ and Channel V is ready with ‘Roomies’, the Indian version of ‘Friends’,” he said.

“When I joined MTV, it was a music channel, but by the time I left it, it had devoted itself to reality shows,” he said.

One of the youngest in the brood of emerging non-fiction writers, he published “Welcome To Advertising Now Get Lost” last year.

But he does believe there’s a way out.

“Every eight reality shows should be complemented by two good fictions. It can be anything. India is full of action for relevant television dramas,” said Mumbai-based Sane, who was in the capital.

“I remember a tele-serial by Ashwini Dheer, ‘Office Office’, starring Pankaj Kapoor in 2000-2004, about a government officer riddled with the ills of public office. It was very funny and dark - but a lovely little idea inspired by reality,” Sane said when asked to name a serial that captured his imagination.

Sane’s book looks at contemporary television - both from inside and from the viewer’s psyche.

“Teachers call it the idiot box. Youth call it the tube. Parents call it the addiction; granny, a lifeline. There are only a few who call it the livelihood…they are the fortunate or the unfortunate ones who’re tirelessly behind the screen, making sure that something plays on it all the times… Since surfing is the new watching, the content doesn’t matter - and just like that, the idiot box starts living up to his name,” Sane writes in his assessment of TV.

The book unfolds as a narrative told by five old friends, Grass, Bass, Crass, Farce and Mass - each from a different genre of television entertainment - as they reunite in a bar after catching up on Facebook.

Sane, who is now working on a humorous fiction, predicts an interesting future for television.

“Music, children, news, general entertainment and live events will stay. The rest is subject to uncertainty. But re-runs must stop. We are tired of seeing replays…of matches (sports) and popular capsules,” he added.

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