Archive for the 'Reality TV' Category

10 Reasons Why My India is Regressive


1. Corruption: India is 83rd on world corruption index as per Transparency Index. Most bureaucrats and politicians in the country are corrupt. There is no honesty in corruption as well. In India, bribing also does not ensure that your work will be done or not. So most entrepreneurs prefer to bribe outside of India to set up an industry. 🙂

Some days back, Hindustan Times broke a story that most Indians knew in their heart. There was misuse of Red Cross funds meant for Kargil soldiers by IAS officers. We all know how various unscrupulous individuals and groups duped millions of people by asking money in name of Kargil. But the money never reached those for whom it was meant. 😦

2. Insensitivity to Environment Hazards: India has not yet woken up to the importance of conserving environment and energy.

  • We still use bulbs in place of CFLs. It is not even apparent what could be other reasons of not using CFL other than cost? Do we get poor quality of CFLs in our country?
  • People who take care of India’s recycling are poorest of the poor – ragpickers. Their effort is largely unrecognized. We should also not have manual scavengers work in such unprotected conditions.
  • Asbestos is banned in US and EU because it is carcinogenic and also an environment hazard. But as per Outlook magazine, current Indian government is considering to revoke 20-year-old ban on asbestos mining. Forget environment, what about all those workers who would suffer from lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma, a painful cancer of chest wall lining. Doesn’t this government care for its people?

Continue reading ’10 Reasons Why My India is Regressive’

Small Victories at Jhalak Dikhla Ja

I am pleased to write this post. It was due since this Friday, 26 October when 10th episode of Jhalak Dikhla Ja was aired.

I had written earlier in my post Jhalak Dikhla Ja: Stars and Duds, that for me there are two eyesores on the show: Mona Singh and Mika.

The two reasons I disliked them was they were not good at what they came to do: Mona Singh is a awkward host in a stylish show as Jhalak while Mika hardly danced well. On top, Mika did not have enough spirit to take any constructive criticism. He never missed an opportunity to shun judges and their judgment.

So what is the victory that I am talking about? It was about the other reason why I despised both Mona Singh and Mika: they made voter appeals based on region or community. 😦 It is condemning to divide people on basis of region/community in simple matters as that of entertainment.

But in this 10th episode, not once did Mona Singh make a regional voter appeal. 🙂 Not only that, she was less forceful in pushing her Punjabi stereotype identity. For once, she looked like exuberant (yet gawky) host Mona Singh, and not a Punjabi girl next door.

Even Mika, who is these days very pompous about getting viewer votes, said that his several fans (does he really have many?) had emailed him to say why does he ask votes only from Punjabis, he would rather ask votes from entire India! I was gaping with surprise, what brought the change. I hope this trend continues into later episodes.

Suggested Links:
26 October episode video

Jhakal Dikhlaja Show Blog: Your resource to preview, videos, and updates
Jhalak Dikhla Ja Blog

Jhalak Dikhla Ja: Stars and Duds

Lead India Contest: Who Do You Want to Win?

Amul’s Take on Lead India Contest

Amul’s Take on Lead India Contest 🙂

Well, to be honest I have not been meticulously following the contest trail till recently.

Nevertheless, Lead India contest gives hopes to incorrigible optimists like me. It is an initiative by Times of India to give opportunity to a honest, enthusiastic citizens within 25-45 age group to dream a leadership project.

The prize? One year leadership programme at Harvard University and a grant of Rs. 50 lakh towards a project of the winner’s choice.

Out of 32, 682 applications received from all over India, now 8 finalists from 8 cities have been selected. The selection is based on 50% jury judgment, 25% audience jury judgment, and rest sms poll. Here is a brief about each of the candidates:

1. Sanjiv Kaura, Delhi: A 42-year-old who was earlier a MNC CEO overseas before he returned to India in 1998. As per him, he discovered India on a bicycle by cycling from Kalka to Kanyakumari, while staying in villages. He lead a nationwide grassroots movement on education (NAFRE) across 26,5000 villages in India. He also served part-time in Territorial army. It was there he was when his friends filed up his entry for Lead India contest. This social entrepreneur is said to be “a perfect blend of experience and idealism.”

2. Abha Singh, Lucknow: 42-year-old Director of Indian Postal Services division at Lucknow. Her dream project is to curb corruption. Other issues she feels strongly about are communalisation and castism, gradual erosion of systems and values, educational backwardness, especially rural areas and particularly women, and terrorism. She believs we can do it.

3. Devang Nanavati, Ahmedabad: 36-year-old top notch lawyer from Gujrat. He is a senior partner in Ahmedabad’s leading law firm of Nanavati & Nanavati, Advocates. Likes of Arun Jaitley and P.Chidambaram have fought cases on behalf of his firm. His interests: Billiards, human rights, and constitutional laws. Plans to embark a political career.

4. Dipayan Dey, Kolkata: 44-year-old environmentalist. He has indisputably won expert jury points, audience jury points and sms polls. He is a biotechnologist trained in sustainable development from the United Nations University in Tokyo. He has founded a NGO called SAFE that aims for poverty alleviation and protection of natural resources (such as water bodies) are judiciously exploited and the local population can earn more money. His take”curb defense budget, first fight hunger and poverty.”

5. Soumya Mishra, Hyderabad: 40-year-old IPS officer at Warangal. Has first hand experience of leadership and counseling at work. Her dream project? To start a community welfare project primarily to help redress the problems faced by people at the grass-root level due to naxalism. Not surprising choice, as she is a police officer from Naxalite-rampaged Warangal.

6. Rajendra K. Misra, Bangalore: 42-year-old entrepreneur. He retired willfully at 40 when he was MD of a successful company to devote time to public policy domain. Writing a book called Retire at 40 And Do What? Inicdentally, more can be found about him at his blog.

7. Ranjit Gadgil, Pune: 36-year-old programme director of Janwani is a technocrat-turned social activist. He returned to serve India quitting his IT consultancy job in US for. He was involved in education of underprivileged children. involved with organisations like the Nagrik Chetna Manch (NCM) and the Pune Traffic and Transportation Forum (PTTF). Talks about solid waste management and ragpickers issue (something you can read more about in this blog.) With his Lead India prize money wants to set up an organisation that can deal with urban planning and act as a source of information and support for slum dwellers.

8. Ujjwal Banerjee, Mumbai: 27-year-old, married to lawyer is an engineer-cum-MBA. Like most of us, started with MNC (in his case, TCS) and then later switched to work in a NGO after a through thoughtfulness. HE is now serving as an HR Manager in a NGO Akansha that shelters and educates street kids. He was involved to protect innocence of kids in a murkly world of brothels. His dream project? Opening internet kiosks in a couple of Indian villages to educate, benefit farmers, schoolchildren and adult learners.

My personal picks:
Abha Singh from Lucknow who aims to fight corruption. Ujjawal Banerjee from Mumbai, who gives up full-time lucrative job at young age to work for NGOs. Ranajit Gadgil for handling solid waste management system and rag picker’s protection.

Source: Check out more about finalists from Lead India contest.

Read more:
Time of India Lead India Intitiative
Lead India: Meet the Best of India

Jhalak Dikhla Ja 2: Stars and Duds (Updated)

I finally decided to post my honest, personal reactions of this show called Jhalak Dikhla Ja that is remake of American show Dancing with the Stars. For those who do not know about the show, 12 celebrities from different walks of life (other than dancing, of course) dance with professional choreographers. Their survival in the show depends on the points they receive from the judges and the votes that viewers shower on them through phone calls and sms(es).

Jhalak Dikhla Ja, as it involves celebrities, is a glitzy and stylish show. I love watching this show because it is my window to all the stylish dance forms that fail to find place in my regular life. Where else would I get to watch samba, rumba, jive, jazz, salsa, ch-cha cha? These beautiful dances come alive through this show in my bedroom every weekend.


The three judges are jumping-jack of yester-years Jeetendra, actress Urmila Matondkar and the most celebrated Indian dance guru Shiamak Davar.

Jeetendra is perhaps the most honest judges of the three. His criticism is dignified yet honest. He does call a spade a spade. Though, sometimes I feel his praises are faintly lenient to actors (like Ronit, Prachi) who have been associated with his daughter’s Balaji productions.

It is a pleasure to listen to Shiamak when he praises contestants in Hindi. He is learning to speak Hindi, yet he sums up performances with apt one word Aashycharya-chakit (surprised), Praffulit (gladsome), or Shaandaar (Marvelous).” He is a super-kanjoos (miser) when it comes to awarding points. Sometimes he gives too many contestants similar points regardless of their performances.

Urmila is the biggest diplomat on the show, trying to fit in the shoes of Shilpa Shetty (who was the judge in last season of the show). Being the only female on the judge panel, she is eagerly singled out by contestants like Mika and Aadesh Srivastav to rub their charms (if they have :P) on her.

Celebs who deserve Thumbs-Up: (though not in the same order as listed below)

Sandhya Mridul is a bright actress with bindaas attitude who lights up stage with her dance performance.

Sudha Chandran, trained classical dancer, unlearns everything to perform jives and salsas. I can vouch that it must not be easy for her with that artificial leg. Sometimes, it seems to me, because she has an artificial limb, she works so hard so as to avoid any sympathy and let her work speak for her. Man, I salute her spirit.

Sudha Chandran

Sudha Chandran at Jhalak Dikhla Ja

Mini Mathur, who has herself hosted several reality shows in the past, is working hard to make her mark. She is good, yet can be better.

Prachi, the 18-year-old TV actress, is youngest of all the contestants. She danced well in the second show (I did not see the first one.) She may have played a mature character in her other tv shows, but she certainly has difficulty keeping her emotions in check in this show when she plays herself. Sweet chick!

Mir Ranjan Negi, the hockey coach who inspired the story of Chak De India! He is a real-life hero who bounced back into adulation after being written off completely. He was once branded a traitor. Now, he is the synonym of patriotism and team spirit. This simple man who might have looked easily out-of-place in this show full of glitz and glamour hold on with aplomb. His first dance performance, for reasons unknown to me, was very touching. He refused vote appeals based on region repeating the dialogue from Chak De India “States ke name mujhe sunai nahi dete, ek naam jo mujhe sunai deta hai-who hai India!(I can not hear the name of the states, the only name I hear is India.)” He garnered highest public votes, this fact alone speaks that he struck chord with rest of India as well.

Thumbs-down in the show

Mika and anchor Mona Singh are two eye sores for me in the show. I have two reasons. One, they are not good at what they came to do in the show. Second, unwitty people like these make us hate reality shows as they divide the citizens on basis of region.

Mika’s choreographer is living a nightmare these days. Mika makes no effort to learn and is one of the weakest dancers on the show. Other day he forcibly tried to make his Punjabi connection with Jeetendra by prompting him to speak Punjabi. A visibly uncomfortable Jeetendra tells him “pur yeh show to hindi ka hai, Punjabi weech gal kisi aur din karenge!” (But this show is in Hindi, will speak in Punjabi some other day). This man is a singer whose recent career has pumped up only due to Kiss controversy with Rakhi Sawant. Yet the man has so much arrogance that he never accepts judges’ criticism with spirit. Punjabis are better known for their zest of life and sporty spirit. Where is that, Mika??

Unlike Mika, Mona Singh, is an affable, fun, and genuine person. But despite her gorgeous evening gowns, she looks more than wee bit out of place on this stylish show. She comes across as gawky and awkward host and her script looks downright unrehearsed. It looks as if she is trying to make an desperate effort to appear conversant and friendly. Sorry Mona, it is not working. You can not live Punjabi stereotype for long, the show needs a host with élan. And, the regionalism part? Mona is the one when making vote appeals on behalf of contestants digs out region or communities as USP: Punjab for Mika, Maharashtra for Sonali Kulkarni (a big mistake as she ended up in bottom two, she stood better chance asking votes from rest of the India), Parsees for Cyrus, Bengal for Tapur, and so on. Grow up, Mona. Will ya?

It seems most of the celebs (like Ronit, Aadesh, and Tapur) are having problem with their choreographers because they change the steps. I guess choreographers are justified in changing steps when they see it doesn’t suit the celeb or dance for various reasons. But celebs contestants are already tired with their existing working schedule, they do not take these changes lightly. The one celeb who insists her steps are changed (perhaps to the chagrin of her choreographer) is Sandhya Mridul. Perhaps she is not as overworked as other celebs in the show. 🙂

Before I sign off, I need to speak about the dark horse, Cyrus Broacha. This guy with the funny bone is a complete chatter box. He does not let his choreographer speak! 🙂 One day when this guy dances well (which I think he can), he should keep maun vrat (vow of silence) as a tribute to his choreographer, Roseeta. That would give Roseeta a chance to do the talking for the day. I am sure, it still will be fun to watch a mum Cyrus Broacha. 😀

Update: Aadesh Srivastav and his choreographer Tina were the first couple to be eliminated. It seems Tina was having a tough time to make arrogant Aadesh dance. It was eventually her tears that motivated Aadesh to dance better in second round. Only, it was too late by then.

14 October: Sadly, instead of Mika, it is model Tapur Chatterjee and her choreographer partner Firoz who are now out of the show. I had once disliked her for bullying her choreographer. But she handled her ouster with amazing spirit and dignity. She certainly did not deserve to go as her performance was 100 times better than Mika who certainly did not respect the competition, art of dance, or the public. He had prepared nothing and he was smug about it. I am sad I live in a country where people shun talent and vote for a region. What was Mika’s vote appeal: If you don’t vote for me, you are not a Punjabi.

20 October: Guess who goes out? Mini Mathur and her choreographer Hemu! Needless to say she did not deserve to go. Mika, one who should have been eliminated by now, is still there as an eyesire on the show. I am shamed that I belong to a country where people blatantly vote for inferior and disrespectful performers just because they make emotionally blackmailing vote appeals based on region. As for Mini, when she danced away happily after a wonderful performance, she had forgotten to make a personal vote appeal. I had feared right at that moment hope Mini does not get voted out. There she goes, out of the show with that wonderful last dance performance. 😦

27 October: Guess, who is out this time? Who other than Cyrus Broacha. Would miss all the spontaneous laughs he caused. He still kept making laugh even after he was eliminated. Mika is still there with his average performances. He has become pompous and over-confident that junta will not vote him out. Is anyone listening?

3 November: Who goes out? Sudha Chandran and her partner Uma! I am shocked why junta would vote someone with tremendous spirit like Sudha instead of someone as pompous as Mika!

10 November: Sad to write this that 18-year-old hard-working girl Prachi is out!

17 November: Thank God!It’s Mika who is out this time. (Me, very jubilant :D) Mika had a very pompous exit, said it was only me who could get me out. Reportedly, he told the viewers not to vote for him but vote for talented others. He was about to go Rakhi-bashing before going off show, but Rohit Roy, thankfully, cut him off.

24 November: Ronit Roy is out! Though Ronit danced well, I never connected well with him. He was talented, but he seemed very fake to me. Somehow I identify with his co-contestants wanted him off the show long back. It can not be only because he was a threat because Sandhya, Prachi were bigger threats. These days Jay Bhanushali too is a strong contender for Jhalak prize money.

1 December: Sonali Kulkarni is out. She had improved, yet she was certainly one of the weakest dancers on the show.

7 December: Mir Ranjan Negi is out. I liked him, but he was now weakest dancers on the show. I can’t believe Indian public could judiciously take that strict decision. 🙂

16 December: Prachi Desai, the leading lady of TV serial Kasam Se, won the contest. She was definitely good, but it was Sandhya who was a better dancer. It is also to be noted, Prachi was wild card entry winner! Only she and Sudha Chandran had got chance to contest for wild card entry. Jay Bhanushali came third.

Prachi Desai Won!

Light Has Gone Out of Indian Idol 3

A few days ago I read few great posts about my few of my favorite reality shows in some of the blogs. Some of them have had meticulously updated their posts to record the progress and nuances of various contestants in these shows. Indian Idol, Nach Baliye, Comic Circus, and Jhala Dikhla Ja—I have watched them all with anticipation and enthusiasm.

Like millions of viewers, I have both applauded and criticized the performances. I have had my share of disappointments when my favorite contestant was eliminated. But nevertheless, I continued watching these shows as they were my personal window to concerts that were held right in my bedroom. Where else would I get a glimpse of brilliant cha-cha-cha, or a glitzy jazz performance or disco dance, or an innovative, never-performed-before stand-up comedy, or my favorite number being sung with new harkats in spunk and grand style on stage?

I watched these shows casually to unwind. Sometimes I read or discussed about them. Like every fair Indian, I felt sad when Shweta Salve, obviously a better dancer than Mona Singh lost in Jhalak Dikhla Ja because latter was more popular, having played recently a popular character called Jassi in a TV soap. I was stupefied when a Parsi celebrity couple performed magnificently on a wordless music. I was outraged when the guy from that same Parsi couple admitted, in a moment of shock during their elimination from the show Nach Baliye 2, to (physically?) abusing his partner. (He used that opportunity to apologize and thank her.) I watched Hussain and Tina win the coveted dancing couple’s titles. I read that Abhijit Sawant had published his autobiography. I watched Ruprekha Bannerji win Fame Gurukul along with Qazi Toukir, and later never realized that she has disappeared after the win. I witnessed everything, yet nothing was motivating enough to make me reflect and write about it. Until today.

It is this about this 18-year-old girl who had enthralled me with her performances in Indian Idol 3—Ankita Mishra.

In my busy job, when I come home late and tired after commuting in a city that has lack of good public transport, there is little energy remaining to invest in anything else. I barely eat and yearn to sleep at the first opportunity. Yet I rarely fail to see Friday and Saturday Indian Idol 3 shows. Friday because it is the performance day and Saturday as it is the show where results of public voting are announced. Fridays I watched Ankita sizzle and perform in her innovate style and power-packed performance. Her detailing about the props and dress, her masti, her heart and soul she put into song is always hard to miss. It pepped up my tired soul after a hard day at work. On Saturdays, I watched with anticipation and prayers that Ankita would linger on the show. She is the only one I voted for in this show.

I have heard several criticisms about Ankita, hither and thither on blogs, from people. They are correct. Yes, she is not pretty looking gal on the show. And she certainly is not best singer out on the show. But do I care? I watch the show to be entertained. I certainly am not a music connoisseur, if I were, I would buy expensive tickets of that classical singer and sit-through a music session that doesn’t give me the pep up I need to survive another week of grind at work. If it a singing gem that needs to win, why does that aam admi, who doesn’t understand the rudiments of basic music, votes? Why don’t we get the best music connoisseurs from the country select the best singer instead. Clearly, it is not the aim. Aim is to get the best entertainer, one that reaches your soul, can take away your tiredness of the day or week so that you are all revved to handle daily humdrums of life. After all, isn’t that why we have entertainment?

Ankita-Way to Go

Ankita Mishra with Govinda

This girl, Ankita, gave me that reason to unwind. As Javed Akhtar said, yeh dil se gaati hai, apne liye gaati hai. Perhaps that was why her performance always reached to me. I always waited impatiently for her turn to find out what she would perform this time. Remember her Rangeela performance with hat or her Aap jaisa koi or her Piya tu ab to aa ja performances that had big cage on the stage. Did I notice that she had few of her notes up and down? I was too captivated to notice while I watched her. The audio of her performance heard stand-alone retains that special enthusiasm and confidence. It is contagious.

I proudly say Ankita was my favorite contestant. She is the sole reason why I wrote this post about reality shows. Ankita, you rock. Perhaps it was the only time I agreed with Anu Malik when he unabashedly admired your performances and your hunger to excel. Move on and do well in your life. As for me, now that you are gone, the light has gone out of Indian Idol 3.

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