Reality check: The 'real' truth about reality show contestants

Thousands beeline to take part in reality shows on television, but not many are aware of the pitfalls of these 15 minutes of fame. A look at what reality show contestants have to grapple with...

Are reality shows as wonderful as they seem? Sure, they could catapult any talented person — no matter the economic strata or region they come from — to a world of fame and opportunities. But look closely and there is an ugly underbelly to the whole ride.

Monali Thakur
Monali Thakur had to struggle quite a bit to gain a foothold in Bollywood even after her popularity had shot up thanks to her participation in Indian Idol.

Take for instance, Monali Thakur who, despite tasting success in the show, Indian Idol, had to struggle before finding her space in Bollywood. Some reality show winners share their personal experiences with hitlist....

The pros of taking part in a reality show:
>> The most ordinary person, who can never imagine getting in touch with the people who matter, can now dream of making it big through these reality shows.
>> Regardless of the person getting opportunities, winning these shows or getting through some crucial rounds boosts their confidence and validates their talent.
>> If they win, these reality show contestants might enjoy popularity at least for a year or so. If they are lucky, their popularity could last longer and it might fetch them more opportunities.

The cons:
>> Reality show contestants, especially the winners, might get disillusioned when soon after their win, the attention shifts to the winner of the next season. The limelight being taken away from them doesn’t agree with many young people.
>> Some contestants might get disappointed as they harbour false hopes that once they win the contest, their future is set for good.

VJ Andy
Reality show: He participated in Bigg Boss.
Quote unquote: “I would say that doing reality shows opens up new avenues for your career. Besides, I am now learning new things about myself — like the way I am and the way I want to represent myself. Also, it pays you well financially.

Contestants VJ Andy and actress Elli Avram during the grand finale of 'Bigg Boss — Season 7'
Contestants VJ Andy and actress Elli Avram during the grand finale of 'Bigg Boss — Season 7'

Reality shows have helped my career in many ways. One of the cons is that people think they know you well which is not always true. Some people know you and some don’t. Also, many people don’t know how much hard work one has to do, how many hours one has to put in. I would like to finally say that reality shows have always reaped benefits for me and I hope Jhalak also work in my favour.”

Meiyang Chang
Reality show: He participated in Indian Idol and won Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa.
Quote unquote: “The pros of being a reality show contestant are many! If you’re a newcomer, it gives you an unmatched platform to display and hone your skills, as well as pick up new ones (in my case, hosting and dancing).

Meiyang Chang points out that while reality shows offer an unmatched platform to display and hone one’s skills, they are capable of creating  their own monsters.
Meiyang Chang points out that while reality shows offer an unmatched platform to display and hone one’s skills, they are capable of creating  their own monsters.

The global reach of television is unparalleled and that explains how a dentist like me got the opportunity to show off my singing skills and pursue my passion as a career rather than let it stagnate as a hobby. Reality shows are a great stepping-stone to the entertainment world and they get you noticed for the right job - I landed a role in the film, Badmaash Company, when the director saw me on a reality show. The cons of being a reality show contestant are few; then again, reality shows are well capable of creating their own monsters.”

Rajiv Laxman
Reality show: He participated in Indian Idol and was one of the presenters of MTV Roadies.
Quote unquote: “Despite what other reality show contestants might want to believe, I don't look at reality shows as launchpads for an acting career.

Rajiv Laxman

Not everyone has the charisma, talent, or drive to make it big in the glamour world. At best, reality shows give you some degree of familiarity with the audience. Everyone comes with big hopes, but only someone who has the discipline, determination and the acting talent has a good chance of succeeding.”

Rahul Vaidya
Reality show: Second runner-up in Indian Idol.
Quote unquote: “I don’t see any cons of reality shows. With more singers cropping up these days, their career tenure in the current scenario will be shorter than that of singers from the earlier days.

Rahul Vaidya

Nowadays, a person hailing from a small town can get this exposure just because of reality shows. I’m really happy to see new talent get its due.”

The horror of it all

A 16-year-old girl was paralysed after being humiliated by judges on a dance-based reality show on a Bangla channel.

Anjar Khan almost drowned while participating in a reality show in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, where contestants were challenged to stay under water for as long as possible.

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