An Indian Idol participant’s audition story has gone viral for shedding light on the dark realm that reality television contestants inhabit. Author Nishant Kaushik, who claims to have made it to the third round of Indian Idol auditions in 2012, has made us come face to face with a reality we all want to ignore. That participating in reality television shows is not as rosy and glamorous as it sounds, is something many of us have suspected all along.

In recent times, people have questioned the treatment young contestants are meted out on children’s editions of such shows. However, this thread is about the Hunger Games style auditioning process, where millions battle against deprivation of basic amenities, long queues, humiliation and even physical and verbal abuse at hands of the production crew of such shows. It should make all of us ask, what is the cost these people must pay, for just 15 minutes of fame?

All in the name of showcasing your talent on national television

Kaushik’s recollection is not just about hours spent standing in serpentine queues, waiting for one’s turn in front of the judges. That bit is quite evident from the audition footage such shows air every season. Queues of smiling people, cheerful and enthusiastic, while their glucose levels hit rock bottom from exhaustion, is something which such shows love to boast about.

It’s as if people screaming like maniacs into cameras about their obsession for participating in a certain show is supposed to impress us

SOME TAKEAWAYS-

  • An ex-reality show contestant revealed how contestants are badly treated during auditions.
  • Participants are just treated like TRP generators, with no regard to fulfillment of even their basic necessities.
  • It also poses a lot of question to the viewers. How can you not care about what goes behind the scenes of these so-called reality shows?

But there is more to this ordeal, as it is clear now. As per Kaushik, there was a dearth even of basic amenities like drinking water and toilets. If a trained production team fails to arrange such amenities for a massive group of people, then it cannot merely be branded as oversight. It hints at genuine lack of concern for the participants’ well-being. These participants are just treated like TRP generators. Only those who have an interesting story which could reduce viewers to tears, are ones who matter. Or those who are so bad, that they can bring the house down with laughter. The rest are just humoured by the crew for those wide shots of crowds shrieking and screaming with fervour.

Actor Mini Mathur, who has worked as an anchor on the said show at one time, has supported Kaushik’s claims.

This means all the stories of manhandling or cruel selection process meant to capitalise of a contestant’s traumatic back stories are true

This raises so many questions. To what extent are people willing to go for a chance to feature on a reality TV show? Does a participant’s dignity hold no value to makers of such shows? How is it not cruelty to exploit them, not even bothering to provide them proper access to food, water or toilets? It also poses a lot of questions to us — the viewers.

Despite knowing that many candidates make it to advanced stages of reality shows purely on the basis of their sob stories and underdog image, viewers still cry for more. Does this story of manhandling, exploitation, cruelty and physical and mental abuse bother those who binge watch reality television? Most people will just shrug it off. And go on to watch singing, dancing and whatnot reality shows without a shred of concern.

Just a few months ago, the Papon controversy had raised concerns over safety of children on sets of reality shows. What has changed since that revelation? Nothing

This mistreatment of reality show contests will not stop, unless viewers oppose it. It is our responsibility to make sure television and media don’t descend into a pile filth so deep that we are unable to pull it out of that slush. We must thank Kaushik for coming forward with his experience and giving voice to the struggle of millions of contestants. But it is our responsibility to make sure this mistreatment stops right now.

As for those who still look at such shows with starry eyes, I hope it is worth the humiliation and fakery they will have to bear. For such people, a 15-second clip on national television may be a lifetime’s incentive. It could be something to dream about every night, or even chase despite hardships in their lives. But to those who make such shows, these struggles, these dreams barely mean anything.

Also Read: Katy Perry’s Kissing Teenager: Abuse Of Power Or Celebrity Entitlement?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are author’s own.

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