Indian Idol: As reality unfolds, talent suffers under dogmatism

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New Delhi:

Indian Idol is one among the top reality singing shows in India. The show is into its tenth season and running successfully. But the stark truth of the reality shows is often shadowed by the dark clouds of bigotry and skeptical euphemism. What goes behind the TV screen is beyond the imaginations of a layman, sitting in his drawing room. A Twitter thread of a man who auditioned for Indian Idol Season sixth in 2012 has gone viral which holds the bitter truth of the reality TV show. It raises questions about how reality shows treat their contestants.

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Nishant Kaushik has revealed his personal experience during the auditions of Indian Idol. His epiphany depicts the grim acrimony of it. He describes the show as "a perfect platform to destroy your dreams as opposed to its common perception as a breeding ground of talent". Kaushik narrates his experience of auditioning for Indian Idol in 2012. Kaushik describes how he had to stand in a 2-km-long queue to get inside the venue. Kaushik was among the contestants who were there just for an amusement, but there were others who were waiting in the long queue in an anticipation to get selected. There were many contestants who were accompanied by their kin and friends whereas there were other contestants who came by themselves.

Brief, nonchalant thread about my auditioning experience at Indian Idol 2012 and why I think it is a perfect platform to destroy your dreams as opposed to its common perception as a breeding ground for talent.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

May. Mumbai. I rocked up at the venue more out of casual interest. On joining a queue 2 km long I noticed enthusiasts who had arrived there as though their lives depended on them. Some with their mothers holding Prasad, other rebels who had braved odds and traveled alone.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

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He talked about how he stood in the queue from 7 am but remembers that there were contestants who came in early and many of them had camped at the venue a night before, in an attempt to get ahead in the queue and be the first to audition. But everything went in vain, as the audition gates opened only at 1 pm. On reaching the venue, Kaushik realised that there was neither proper sanitation facility nor there were any arrangements for food and water. Despite the horrendous treatment, the participants were not willing to leave the place, in a fear that they might lose their spot.

I joined the queue at 7 AM. There were people who had arrived at 5 AM. Others who had camped overnight. False notion that early arrival = early audition. No one from the crew to dispel such notions. Gate opens 1 PM.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

In those long hours of waiting, no accessible toilets or food stalls or drinking water taps. If you step out in search, you risk losing the queue which you'd then have to rejoin. Anyway at 1 pm the long wait ended right? Wrong.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

The reality of reality show was yet to sink in. Even at 1 pm when the gates were opened, the relief of auditioning directly was like a distant dream. The crowd was thrust towards a stage on the ground, where they were forced to cheer an ex-contestant of the show lip-syncing to a song.

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Kaushik called the camera crew as ‘vultures’ on how they fed upon contestants as bait to make them dictate scripted statements. Some of them were manipulated by luring ‘an early audition’, but it never actually happened. According to Kaushik’s statement, this melodrama went on till 8 pm while there were no signs of auditions. When the auditions were about to commence, the next stop for the contestants was the basketball court, where the crowd was made to scream “we Love Indian Idol”.

First the vultures came with their mic and cameras to the blind man, who said he had a scene's role in The Slumdog Millionaire. They first asked him to give a little speech about the history and status of his blindness, how does it feel to be blind, and what have you.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

Hours passed by. At around 8 PM, we were finally given badges and ushered in. no auditions yet. We were taken to the basketball court where for hours at stretch we were made to scream "We LOVE INDIAN IDOL!" right before our voices were supposedly going to be tested.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

While the drama was unfolding into a gruesome dogmatism, there were yet griever experiences to be witnessed. It was high time when people were starting to lose their temper and when an intimidated contestant stood up to understand where the auditions were happening, a so-called ‘vulture’ (crew member) slapped him. This incident went beyond the levels of bestiality.

At this point one of the aspirants lost his shit and stood up, demanding to see where the auditions were happening, to see the judges. One of the crew members charged up to him and slapped him. In front of thousands of people. SLAPPED.A.CONTESTANT. Yes this happened.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

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Amid the chaos, the crew began randomly selecting people and asked them to sing. Those who sang badly were then sent to rooms with cameras to record them. This process was then repeated in front of the prestigious judges, only to mock them and hype their entertainment quotient. The mockery was so grave that one of the contestants burst out crying.

(Take a moment to reflect that by the time of the first round of audition some of us had been standing at that venue for almost 24 hours). Crew walked past us, randomly picking some of us to sing a couple of lines. Just like that, in the corridor, with no judges present.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

The naive thought this was a smart way to quicken the filtering process of worthy contestants. The smartass crew knew better. They giggled at the contestants who sang horribly, and directed them to the only room that had a camera inside it. The rest of us got non-camera rooms.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

That mockery went on. The judges relished that fellow's naivety, asking him to keep taking a pitch "higher and louder" till his voice turned into frail shrieks that sent them into peals of laughter. He came out in tears. Elsewhere in the corridor we heard of contestants fainting.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

Kaushik was evicted in round three of the bogus audition, close to midnight. Kaushik was rather glad about getting rejected so that he could go home and relax. Kaushik revealed that along with the contestants, even the labourers who assembled and dissembled the equipment were harassed by the crew.

I crashed out in Round 3 of the auditions close to midnight, and was nearly relieved when it happened. But I went home satisfied that I got a taste of a show that on TV had always appeared alluring. Shocked as I was by its reality, I was a wiser man by the end of the day.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

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Kaushik says that every aspiring artist is already a star and needs encouragement. But the reality shows leave no stone unturned in disrespecting the talent as well as the artist. He requested everyone to not let the TRP hungry channels foster negativity into the minds.

True talent is rare. But every aspiring artist's pride stems from the encouragement it gets from its colleagues and friends and mohallawallahs and family. In those little nooks and crannies, each of them is a "star". Reality shows have no right to disrespect that.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 20, 2018

Thank you all for your responses. We have amazing people like you who have the wisdom to understand that artists flourish when they foster positivity and an atmosphere of mutual encouragement. And we will never let TRP hungry channels tell us otherwise.

— Nishant Kaushik (@nofreecopies) August 21, 2018

This incident mirrors the glamorous world of celebrity magic and reality shows that often succumbs under the negativity of dogmatism, and amid this skepticism, a true talent can be doomed forever.

Read the entire Twitter thread here.

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