Readers Write In #204: ‘Choked’ reveals the choking story of reality shows

Posted on June 13, 2020

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(by Carlos Luis)

‘Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai’ directed by Anurag Kashyap is a story of Sarita Pillai (Saiyami Kher) a singer and a participant of reality singing show. While performing one day at the revelation of an audience by the light she freezes. She is unable to sing from then on. The very remembrance of it or the very word ‘singing’ gives her a traumatic experience. Sarita along with her husband Sushant Pillai (Roshan Mathew) and a son is a lower-middle-class family struggling to make their ends meet. Sarita has got a government job at a bank and Sushant is mostly unemployed. Sarita, therefore, struggles with the overload of work at the bank and later at home. But a vain hope and relief come when she sees Ziploc bags with money popping out of the sewage pipe from her kitchen. The money is choking the water in the pipes. So both these stories of choking play on simultaneously in the movie.

As the trauma plays on with Sarita we are awakened to the impact of reality shows on children, adults, and family at large. Along with a huge amount of stress and depression at times, the participants are filled with anxiety. As the only motive at the reality shows is to win, winning at the cost of doing better than the other, making children, in particular, take unnecessary risks.

The reality shows present a fake image of success. At the ripe age when a child gets into reality shows, she or he is made to perform way beyond her or his calibre. Although it may look on the free accord, it is harmful to the children in the long run. The Television Rating Point (TRP) of the show may skyrocket but it is hazardous to children as the expectations from parents, relatives and friends grow. When it is the case of the adults, however successful they might be in real life, the story presented on TV is absolutely a tale sometimes unheard of. These stories can distort the idea of success and the ways it can be achieved.

When one participates and fails to get there, this can destroy the future of the child. Take for instance the character of ‘Choked’ Sarita, she felt that she is a big-time loser and she started to affirm the same in all the areas of her life. Her self-esteem had been crushed and crumpled. Comparisons between the talents of one to the other although they are uniquely graceful happen consistently. Low self-esteem can, therefore, be the cause of the withdrawal of a child or an adult to do what one does best or is good at in her or his way.

Reality TV shows are purely meant for entertainment. But they tend to be taken seriously at times. They become the trendsetters. Instant celebrity cult happens due to reality shows. To become successful one has to go through a process of hard work, wear and tear, a large amount of discipline and concentration of learning the craft and then practising it. One doesn’t become a celebrity instantly and reality shows in no way make you one. They may enhance the process to which you have already given the momentum.

We have many examples that show that their clear focus on the craft has given them what they have. Our very own Cecille Rodrigues, much before she joined the reality show, she was previously a known face who represented the country at various events. Shakti Mohan is a trained contemporary artist who has a diploma in dance. She is also an MA in political science from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai much before she participated in Dance India Dance (DID). Then there are others like Gurbani Judge who gained fame after they participated in reality shows. But none of it happened instantly.

One of the contestants of Bigg Boss Pooja Mishra was bullied consistently. There were complains that this show has created more ruckus into lives then entertainment. There have been continuous assaults, fights, unnecessary arguments, inappropriate remarks made by the contestants on one another. Since the shows like these are getting extra time on TV some acts of aggression, immorality and bullying such as the above are being normalized.

Like Sarita in ‘Choked’ gets suffocated prior to someone else being choked, we ought to take up measures that can help look constructively at these reality shows. We must understand that these shows are not the end. They are just shows that are created to make us happy and entertain us. As parents, we must discuss the ‘reality’ of reality shows with our children. If the reality show in any way is affecting you in your personal life. Stop watching it and engage in an alternate productive activity. Anything that is visually palatable needs to be critiqued. Because what we watch does have an unusual but unconscious effect on our lives. When the TV is filled with reality shows and you find no escape, it is best to shut it down and enjoy the ‘reality’ of the reality around you.