Thursday, March 06, 2008

Will clap for food

Hey remember that girl who got up on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa once, kissed Head and proposed to him much to his "suprise"? (That's right, the very same one who said "I want to propose you" at which point I would have said "I want to run away you")

That cost the SRGMP producers about Rs 1,000 to stage. Cost to the girl: beating from Mum and a broken engagement.

This and more about the life of an extra who makes a living as a TV audience in this fascinating piece by Rama Lakshmi which the Drift Memsaab stumbled upon in the Chicago Tribune (first published in the Washington Post).

A few more fun highlights from the article, which also provides some terrific insights into the staging of reality TV:

  • Audiences make about Rs 200 per show and pull in around Rs 6,000 monthly. Meals, snacks and tea are included


  • Indian clothes are not allowed on the show. Girls have to wear jeans and shirts


  • Sometimes instead of cheering, the producers ask the audience to sway silently with the music during several hours of "retakes"


  • The most empowering moment for the audience on SRGMP? Punching the button to vote for the show's best singer. "I am deciding somebody's future"



Also:

17 comments:

sidekick said...

Fascinating indeed! Employment opportunities have increased in Indian cities, but perhaps not in a good way. Without meaning to sound like a snob, there seems something vaguely depressing about being "a crowd". There must be some sort of age requirement, so this is likely a short term career.

Well, questions abound: Why do girls make more than boys? If this is a fake audience, how do are the shouts for encores on music shows orchestrated - performers that seem the biggest vote getters or those that are the most charismatic? Presumably a "crowd" dressed in jeans and a tee appears modern and with it. But why does that matter if the audience laps up the traditional milieu of saas bahu soaps?

SkD said...

how sick is dis man?manipulating viewers who actually think dat de audience is der for genuine interest in de show....and WTF??The Head thingy was STAGED???
NOW HOW PATHETIC IS THAT?

Anonymous said...

The head thingy seemed staged from the get go. Remember Indian Idol staged something similar.

I am surprised though that they paid the person to kiss Head. Not so cool for Head.

Agree with sidekick the article is rather depressing. Seems like the entertainment industry is again taking advantage of the poor.

The reason they have to pay for audience is because these shows never start recording on time. Some of these shows start 3-4 hours late for the stars and the judges to show up (I recall Vishal being mad at Himesh because he was hours late for recording. Himesh said Vishal should just suck it in as he-Himass is the star of the show). Audience would'nt wait for that long if they weren't paid.

- Joules

headmistress said...

oh man, the seedy realities of crowd life? The Head incident at least is ripe for a dramatisation. Though I feel bad for the girl.

it does feel really depressing though - trudging up fake enthusiasm for all the trite nonsense that passes through. I always wondered why the crowds always seemed so crazy-manic happy...

anu g said...

Thanks Lady Drift for an interesting link.(Its ironic though that such info on Mumbai tv- life has to come from washington ).I had read something similar some months ago(which I'd linked here)but it didnt give a very rosy picture of life behind. The 'crowd' was not given food, and they werent allowed to leave their places and visit the washrooms for hours together!
Something similar happened in the VOI too last week when one girl (wearing jeans and tshirt) came on to the stage and kissed Emran Hashmi.The difference was Pritam shouted and asked who she was, and asked Gajji what was happening.This could also have been staged cos Pritam did all the protesting carrying his mike around with him.But when they showed the girl (looked early 30s), she definitely looked from a poor family, and didnt look like one of those young girls who would jump up to do something like this. She gave a very weak 'I am a big fan of Emran'but it didnt sound convincing. Well, the promos were shown for a few days in advance, so the ploy was successful.
Is a pity that people have to resort to such gimmicks.

Aspi said...

This brings up all these interesting questions doesn't it (that everyone here has raised)? Maybe at a subconscious level we know its staged and which is why shows with aam junta are the ones that are most popular because at least the lives of the competitors is for real and not staged.

anu g, I can totally see Pritam going "WTF" and Gajji going "Kya boss, I paid that girl. Now get with the program!"

Another business idea emerges: one could specialize in stunts and get paid extra. I could approach a producer with a menu of stunts - say 25 I could do - and have him sign me to a contract.

girlie girl said...

that's a really sad and pathetic article. I mean, in one way, atleast people who are in need of money are getting paid for something that's not completely 'cheap' but at the same time, I cant believe that girl's engagement broke off and her mom beat the sh!t out of her because she "did her job" by kissing head. And like anu g said, it's weird that something that's happening in the mumbai entertainment industry is being written about in the Washington Post!

girlie girl said...

that's a really sad and pathetic article. I mean, in one way, atleast people who are in need of money are getting paid for something that's not completely 'cheap' but at the same time, I cant believe that girl's engagement broke off and her mom beat the sh!t out of her because she "did her job" by kissing head. And like anu g said, it's weird that something that's happening in the mumbai entertainment industry is being written about in the Washington Post!

Mind Rush said...

It took me a while to wrap my head around this one. It is sad for the extras and also sad for us, the TV audiences, to be manipulated in this way.

I had read that there are two professions in the world in which women out-earn men: Modeling and prostitution. Trust us Indians to add #3 to the list.

My guess is that the producers try to hype the male singers on the shows. For this they need more women, and very enthu women at that. That might explain the pay differential.

sidekick said...

Mind Rush, the analyst - love that :). But why are male singers more hyped? Coz the audience for these shows is predominantly female? It's interesting that in the kiddie contests the girls wipe the floor with the boys. But in less than 4 short years the tables turn completely.

I wonder if the "crowd" girls get paid more coz they are more obedient and patient in a sweat shop like environment. Thanks to the drift memsaab --- this topic holds a sort of dark fascination :)

HoonPanGujarati said...

Really Sad! Thanks for this. That someone's engagement shld break is disgusting. And in one of the performances on SRGMP there were some Chinese/ gora guys as well. Were they paid as well?

Anonymous said...

I think teenage girls dressed in jeans and t's are more appealing to the eyes than teenage boys would be. Its always teenage girls who swoon over their craze. Rarely do you see teenage boys swooning over someone specially on their vocal abilities.

I am sure the chinese/caucasians were paid as well. Bollywood has agents who case out cafe/joints frequented by foreigners to see if someone wants to be an extra in a movie or tv show.

- Joules

Aspi said...

Audience Race Mining - another Indian TV first. (Joules, how do you get all this info?)

Anonymous said...

I had read this really interesting article by some caucasian woman about her life as a bollywood extra. It was in India abroad a couple of years ago and she said that's how they got cast for a days work. Kind of like day laborers for the bollywood industry.

- Joules

Cinderella said...

and what about the kids in school uniforms on these shows as audience?i hope atleast they are genuinely enjoying:-S

Aspi said...

Cinderella, there are two ways to look at it: either the producers invite the kids and say come in your school uniform (creepy) or the schools say field trip! off to the taping of a show (also creepy).

Cinderella said...

Schools saying field trip?? that's totally impossible!!!!especially with people like Neil and salman coming on the show[mummy,i want to go back to school:P]

maybe the kids too are paid like everyone else..maybe they too have auditions[sad]. but,who knows!