July 14, 2008

Shinjini Sengupta – A 16 Year Old Victim of Reality Shows

Kaveetaa Kaul

We as a society are degenerating into cynics and getting to be voyeuristic by the minute. Nothing reflects this better than the reality shows fast becoming the hottest serials on air. What are these reality shows? Just a documentation of tears and fears of vulnerable participants, frustrated judges venting and heightened drama thus staging a SHOW that keeps India enthralled ..I know I know.. it happens in the west too and in fact is a copy paste of those shows.

The Producers of such shows or the Channels hungrily airing them would be considered ‘FLOPS” if their show is bereft of histrionics in the emotional front. As much as the talent on show what holds center stage is rebukes, insults, climaxing denouements, sarcasm, ego wars and the resultant drama that ensues. It would be an unimaginative producer who fails to provide the above . Therefore often, wars are instigated, judges instructed to create a ‘tamasha’ either among themselves or with the contestants. The audience apparently LOVES it you see.. so anything goes as along as TRP’s follow!!

Presently one presumes ‘cash flow’ is in direct proportion to ‘tear flow’.

Needless to say the ‘nerves of steel’ then becomes the chief criteria for enrolling in these shows. For those who enter guilelessly imagining it will open up doors of fame and fortune sans critical price are simply put, naive.

One such was Shinjini Sengupta a budding dancer from Calcutta who participated in a reality show ” Dhoom Macha Le Dhoom” and was in for the shock of her life literally when judges losing all sense of balance and compassion, rebuked her unanimously in so harsh a manner that she lost her speech, was in a semi paralysed state and hospitalised.

I just saw her performance on a channel and she was spectacular!! I am a kathak exponent and can spot an above average show. She danced on the song ” sat samundar paar”. Now please go the link provided below and watch the remarks made by the judges


Something is always amiss when participants react so drastically. The shock of being eliminated or given a harsh judgment can be devastating. The judges ought to stop reacting as if it was a nuclear test she had failed. Not to forget that 16 is a tender tender age. To be able to withstand the crudities that life offers requires a slow acclimitization.

I recall when I was that age or abouts, it was the final year of school which happened to be a convent. I was someone who had seen fame soon in life but hated it. As such I had closed myself to the world except for a group of us six friends. Among the nuns there was someone called Sister Hope and believe me her name as a misnomer if there ever was one. She provided no hope and nor did she evince any. Quite hopeless in fact 🙂 To cut a long story short, one day whilst rehearsing a western group dance for the school Annual day , I was awaiting my turn in the wings. I accidentally pulled down the curtain string. It was no big deal really.. It wasnt a regular school day . But all the participants were present in the School hall…must be a hundred or so from various events.

But Sister Hope thought otherwise. she gave me a tongue lashing in full glare, such that I have never ever heard ..been subject to was out of question. I broke down completely. reached home and told my family I didnt want to go back to school. The point is that apart from personal demoralising what matters most at at that age is what peers think of you. Its most upsetting to be a butt of jokes and sniggers and cruel remarks which Always is the case.

My Principal Sister Patricia, became my saviour. When she heard from my father that I had decided to leave the school ( this wasnt the first instance of abject ridicule I had to face from Sister Hope and her clan) she requested me that I meet with her personally. I was afraid,unsure and terribly confused. Why would Sister and a Principal want to back me against her faculty? But to my surprise that is what she did.

She apologised on behalf of sister Hope when she heard what exactly she had told me and went on to explain that she was rude in her manner as was her nature. Now why I bring this up is that this was a school affair ( and by the time the whole school was buzzing with it, some enjoying it thoroughly) while in the case of Shinjini it was on television with the whole of the country watching!!

The extent to which it must have shattered her is explicit from the reaction physiologically! How do the judges imagine they have the right to break somebodys self esteem, uncaringly mow down her self respect, irrascibly expose their trivial values and spoil a budding life, when they can play no role in embellishing it if need be?

Give anybody a ‘chair’ and the inner truth of the person emerges!! Be it politics or a mere judge in a reality show!!

‘Judge not lest ye be judged!’ Bible

AddThis Social Bookmark Button



  1. well said Kaveetaa..I agree. A censor mechanism should be in place for such shows.

    Comment by Krishnan — July 15, 2008 @ 8:32 am | Reply

  2. Hi Kaveetaa,
    Great read and was wondering what is my take on this. I watched the entire episode and heard the judge’s comment. I would like to add here if we blame the judges for rendering such harsh judgement, is it ok to spare the parents. Parents‘s expectations from their children are well known especially in our Indian society, These unsecured, deprived and mentally ailing parents are equally responsible for forcing their children to go beyond their capacity to perform. Our judges are mere reflection of our society. Everybody is chasing a race and fighting a battle.

    Comment by Anjali Rajguru — July 15, 2008 @ 1:11 pm | Reply

  3. Hi
    I agree with Anjali very much. I don’t know the parents role in the case of Shinjini, but in many other cases the parents are forcing their children to cross the limit, and to achieve the fame they missed through their children. Everyone wants their child on the top, and its on the cost of innoncence and carefree childhood. I wonder in what type of adults such children wil grow, who have been exposed to such intense emotions right from the begining. I think some parents may think it will make their child ‘tough’, but i fear it may drain out the emotions from them, which makes our life sublime. And what the judges have done, kaveetaa is true that its due to their incompetence, as well as the mindset of creating tamasha for increasing the TRP. Hope such parents learn a lesson.

    Comment by prabhat — July 15, 2008 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  4. Hi are right and I am told that this is in the offing. Channels will be held responsible for the content they air as also some kind of censure on the goings on.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — July 15, 2008 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  5. Hi Anjali and Prabhat.. I am responding to both of you together since you are in consonance with one another. You make an important observation.. one which is actually meat for another post. Parents coercing their kids into arenas that spell glamour fame fortune is a phenomenon that is growing by leaps and bounds and it is an extremely unhealthy sign for our Gen next. they are going to be lot of youngsters star struck, false, and subsequently insecure if the desired goal evades them.

    However, the decorum for judges remarks is an area which is uncharted yet . this is what I wanted to bring out. Granted that ‘maybe’ parents forced her or whatever, yet the role play by the judges is under scrutiny since it has brought into focus so many issues.

    Would the same judges who passed remarks like ” was this a dance?” or such like say the same if she was their own child. I doubt such admonishments might have taken place even in the privacy of their homes.. leave alone on national TV.

    The point is that critical evaluation of a performance does not necessarily have to include ridicule. If one is not impressed, for whatever reason all one has to do it is give an impersonal opinion, albeit with an element of compassion. Give her 4/10 if that is what you think she deserves but to couple that with remarks which break another’s heart speaks of an uncultured and unevolved mentality. But like I mentioned in the post.. till tears do not flow, which can only happen under conditions that scream of embarassment, the episode is as if salt less.. and that is what my objection is towards.This gimmickry that is ruling reality shows.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — July 15, 2008 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

  6. I agree with you Kaveeta, it requires another debate and with this we would be opening a can of worms. My contention is that the parents are well aware of the fact that these reality shows thrive on such melodrama and insults. They should only send their kids, if they can take the heat. Boogie-Woogie is one such programme that has become very popular even though it doesn’t employ such cheap gimmicks. All the participants are encouraged and given tremendous support irrespective of their background.

    Comment by Anjali RajGuru — July 15, 2008 @ 10:32 pm | Reply

  7. Yeh kya hai bhai. yeh tho verbal abuse of a very high order hai. Gestapho style abuse. Kya ho raha hai. Ek Masoom si Kali ko itna
    B-estapho style chilanna acha nahi hai. Kaha ja raha apna desh. World War 2 yaad aa gaya

    Comment by gajanan — July 16, 2008 @ 7:31 am | Reply

  8. Anjali .true.. the parents perhaps overlooked the issue of mental preparation which is a must . Its not enough to groom your child in arts and academics these days, what is paramount is emotional maturity and the need to ready them for pitfalls and troughs. Suicides are more prevalent today then ever before.Somewhere we seem to be going wrong as parents. While stressing on achievement as the whole and soul of life what we seem to forget is that if the child is mentally unprepared for onslaught of lifes vagaries, then irrespective of talent or intelligence, all will come to naught. sad but true.

    Your example of boogie woogie is apt. Although I dont watch it regularly but know Javed and also know that he is never harsh. Not all get the grade but none are ridiculed. In that league there is also Sonu Nigam another cherished friend who is humility personnified. It is finally Judgment that ought to be delivered..not pain.There are some who use their position to truly encourage, others to wield a power baton which only mirrors their false sense of vanity.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — July 16, 2008 @ 11:32 am | Reply

  9. Gajanan ji.. gestapo style is correct.. although disguised in ‘concern’

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — July 16, 2008 @ 11:34 am | Reply

  10. I must share this with all of you. A few days ago on a childrens naach gaana reality tamasha, I heard a remark that made me wonder whether I should double up with laughter or simmer with anger. Two kids aged 6 and 10 precociously were dancing to a sensuous bollywood duet replete with suggestive body language, dance steps of the ‘ jaane do na ‘ type from sagar.. hope you get what I mean. Yeah and they were singing it themselves. I was quite taken aback at why and how this kind of a display was taking place at all on a kid show. Made to act all grown up , was cruel.

    Apparently I was in for another shock. After the performance the panel of esteemed judges gleefully engaged in analysing this performance from kids barely old enough to know the right side of their pants from the wrong side waited pale faced for reactions. And then on eof the Music directors on the show had this to say ‘ This is a romantic song.. I found the EXPRESSION missing.. You should have sung it with more feeling”!!!

    I leave it to you to judge the judge.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — July 16, 2008 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  11. Hi Kaveetaa,
    Ha, Ha, I think the judges themselves need some training. Very soon we will see some schools offering these courses. Indians are very innovative. Why don’t we have reality shows where the judges will be judged and given a bit of their own medicine.

    Comment by Anjali Rajguru — July 16, 2008 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  12. Dear Kaveeta,

    Its been a while since I have visited your blog, got a lot of catching up to do.
    Hope you are well…


    Comment by Srikant — July 16, 2008 @ 11:22 pm | Reply

  13. From this web site.

    Reality strikes.

    •Anjaar Khan (July, 2008): During a promotional event for the soon to be launched reality television show, Khatron Ke Khiladi, in Indore, this 23-year-old submerged himself in water and, in a few minutes, fell unconscious. After he was lifted from the 4×7 glass enclosure, he was rushed to a hospital where he was put on a ventilator. The police have arrested three organisers of the promotional programme and employers of Creative Marketing Limited of Mumbai. In the meanwhile, Anjaar has beenlisted as being in critical condition.

    The news of Ssengupts is there on the web site.

    Comment by gajanan — July 17, 2008 @ 5:11 am | Reply

  14. Thanks Kaveetaa for another thought provoking article.. The way the judges reacted was simply horrible.. In America, I am sure this would be treated as some form of child abuse.. On seeing the video, i felt that it was not the judges who were speaking but it was in fact the money which was given to them, which was speaking and of course the money the sick channel may have got in this drama.. I am sure if made to dance, none of the judges would score even 1/10.. Poor Shinjini.e… Apart from the “tamasha” show business, the TV channels have formed a sort of mafia.. A few days back i read an article on TRP.. The TRP is also misleading.. In bihar,7 NE states and in some other areas.. the TRP itself is not recorded and the channels still count that as All India TRP.. Our I&B minister, Mr dasmunsi gave a statement in lok sabha that when he tried to correct this anomaly.. he was threatened.. so you can imagine where these guys have reached and they are blocking any meaningful legislation which may put any/some constraints on their “cheap” money earning capacities..

    Comment by Rajeev — July 17, 2008 @ 7:45 am | Reply

  15. Gajanan ji ..thanks for the link. I read the news on various sites yesterday. While that was a freak accident and could have happened anywhere what is pertinent is that the organisers FLED after the incident. it is clear that no safety checks were in order nor was there a plan B in case of an emergency. This senseless emulation of reality shows is getting just to make money is in for some flak universally and rightly so.

    Some schools in Kolkata have banned their students from participating in reality shows altogether. I am undecided on the correctness of this per se, but on a certain level some kind of stricture is the need of the hour.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — July 17, 2008 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  16. Hi Rajeev..the news about Dasmunshi and the trp is something. This is so devious really. To add to it, mostly trps are rigged in the first place even the ones from cities where data has been collected. there hardly is a fool proof mechanism in place to verify/validate findings.

    I am sure you know of the other important facet in these shows ..that of voting by public via calls, mobile or landlines. Now this first of all is a huge revenue generating tool for both the tel companies and the channels since they are on a revenue sharing basis. Each sms which ordinarily is maybe 50p, for these shows is Rs.6! So to understand just why drama is heightened on the shows and the desperation to keep the viewer glued and responsive irrespective of the human element they so flippantly dismiss, can be gaged. it is a dirty game if you ask me. talent the pre requisite is then relegated to the background. Consequentially as a rule the less talented ALWAYS wins.

    Judges on the show play No role in the final results.. they are there to be menipulated and to manipulate gullible audiences.

    Comment by Kaveetaa Kaul — July 17, 2008 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: