Hope Manmohan doesn’t watch Indian Idol

For the last two months, the 2G scam has been all over the news channels, including the weather bulletin.  So, to escape the rash I watched a lot of reality shows, and this is what I gleaned from them.

In the case of singing shows, the contestants are expected to possess — why not —– dancing talent.  ‘We are looking for all-round performers,’ are the near unanimous words of the judges. If these people were in charge of picking players for the cricket team they would choose candidates based on their proficiency in Alpine skiing.

In one dance competition, I heard one judge say she wanted the participants to be, ‘original when imitating the big stars’.

But the biggest skill you may require in the first few rounds of any reality show —- pay close attention here —– is the priceless ability to turn up on the day of shooting. For, as far as I can gauge, only the extremely feckless can actually flunk the test in the early rounds of any reality show. In other words, you can breeze through them as long as you have taken the basic precaution of not being Udhay Chopra.

But as you progress into the middle rounds, the competition toughens. At the end of the show, almost daily, the judges, using all their experience, and by employing an artistic judicial process, also called as random choosing, line up four or five candidates and tell them they are in the ‘Danger Zone’.

‘Danger Zone’, if any one has just joined us, does not refer to any critical and risky position that the candidates may find themselves in. In any reality show, it merely means the period where they play up heightened and supposedly edgy music and show up some close-up shots of the tensed-up faces of the contestants.

When the camera zooms in for the close-ups, contestants are expected to come up with the expressions of the ones who have just flunked their doping test.

And the judges, bringing to the fore all their talent to waste time, slowly ‘clear’ one participant after another for further participation in the contest. Eventually, only one contestant is left in the firing line.

Cue: More loud music to indicate more drama and suspense.

So is it the end of the road for him/her as far as this competition is concerned? Does it mean that all the hours of hard work he/she put in to travel to the shooting spot is going to come to a nought?

It’s then the programme host —- carefully chosen for his/her aptitude to announce the name of the programme, which the people have already tuned into, between every two lines spoken —- puts a helpful, reassuring arm around the participant to convey that the moment of reckoning has indeed arrived and he/she has no other go but to break the all-important news: ‘We will now take a commercial break’.

(We will utilise the commercial break to point out that the programme hosts generally are extremely creative on the spot. Suppose a singer named Suresh tells the audience that he is Suresh and is going to sing ‘XYZ song’, the programme host, being quick on the uptake, will turn around to face the camera and translate that into the same language and scream spontaneously into the mike: ‘Suresh is going to sing XYZ song.’)

Back to the programme, the judges, in a doleful voice, generally convey the one information, which as professionals they have to but get across: ‘This week, there are no eliminations’.

Nice people. They say this almost every week.

Upon hearing this: ‘Hoooooooooooooooey,’ the programme host hollers in a celebratory tone that will otherwise be appropriate only if he/she had been just told that Bill Gates has agreed to will his entire wealth to him/her.

‘Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’, the studio audience bellow, exulting as if they are reacting to the news that a real cure to cancer has been found.

At this juncture, the contestant, whose continuation in the show was put on the line just a few moments back, does what Bjorn Borg used to after winning the Wimbledon: Go down on his knees and kiss the turf.

If truth be told, there are no real eliminations in any of the competitions. I suppose contestants just drop out of sheer boredom of the farce. One who stays the course is declared the winner. Or at least, that is how I see it.

At any rate, there is a wild card round, which is the easy expedience by which all those who have been sent out earlier are brought back.

Wait! Let us not give Manmohan Singh any ideas.

Goodbye Maran!