Indian Television's Finest Hour

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As I watched the first two episodes of “Rakhi Ka Swayamvar”, I realized I was witnessing history—an aesthetic amalgam of Dali-ian surrealism and Dada-ist anti-conventionalism, a monument to the post-DD “India Shiney (Ahuja)” Youngistan socially and culturally conscious media, the kind of media that gives us news like this:

“There are two things that you notice instantly when you see Deepika Padukone. One is that she is pencil-thin; and, two, she has a love-bite on her neck that is still to fade away.”

Make no mistake. Rakhi Ka Swayamvar, now being shown on the appositely named NDTV Imagine is Indian television’s finest hour. In the past, we have been shocked by Tamas. We have been educated by “Bharat Ek Khoj”. We have danced to “Ek chidiya anek chidiya”. We have cried with Haveli Ram. We have dreamt with Mungerilal. We have flown with Shaktiman. We have become “Putrabati bhava” with Mahabharata. But never have we ever been as moved by anything as we have been by Rakhi ka Swayamvar, as classy as a circus freakshow and as spontaneous as Dick Cheney.

The show’s all-round grooviness stands primarily on the shoulders of the central protagonist, “divya roopi sundari nari” (as a contestant addresses her) Rakhi Sawant. A child of the 24/7 media, we have seen her life unfold itself in front of the camera. Whether it be heart-wrenchingly expressing the challenges in being an item girl (she told Prabhu Chawla: Kapde utaarna asaan naheen hain sirrrr) or being kissed by Mika or slapping her boyfriend Abhishek Awasthi as he apologizes to her on bended knee after a fight, Rakhi has lived her life in the public gaze (some people claim that she lives her life ONLY when she is in the public gaze) ever since her star turn as a chick with a dick in “Masti”.

So the fact that her choosing a husband would also be a public spectacle was inevitable. Of course as Rakhi and the show’s creators go to great pains to make us realize that this isnt a game show. This is life. Rakhi’s life. The life of a simple, shy, traditional middle-class Bharatiya naari with fake gazoombas,  equally fake old-world demureness  and ceaselessly fluttering eye-lids who needs all our help in finding the right match for her.

And I wont kid you. It’s not easy getting a husband for this lass. As she repeats throughout the show, in various ways,  men only want her for her ethereal beauty and her fame but no one recognizes the simple lost girl behind the cantilevered lingerie, a lost little girl who just wants to settle down and put to rest her tortured past.

Now critics might call this show “a sham money-making exercise that appeals to the lowest common denominator” but I see it for what it is—– a searing monument to the institution of marriage and its enduring relevance even in today’s item number world.

Critics also might call the show “scripted” but hey, even our lives are scripted by the one above. If no one objects to that why should they be worried if a few humans script Rakhi’s considering it’s ultimately all “maya”.

Supporting Rakhi are a stellar support cast. There is an Udaipur palace. There are dancing women who dance as each of the prospective grooms arrive to the tunes of the same song from Om Shanti Om. There is Ram Kapoor (famous as “Mr.  Jay Walia” from Kasamh Se) who I think tries desperately not to burst out into giggles during Rakhi’s earnest insights into her tortured soul. Finally there the man who is Rakhi’s surrogate brother, asking the hard questions and vetting the candidates—megastar Ravi Kishan from the land that has given us “Meri nayee payjamia phad di dehati rasiya” , who is the ideal person to get into the minds of the “small town” boys from Saharanpur and Kanpur and Mathura who form the majority of the suitors.

Which brings me to the show’s knockout assets—-the sixteen prospective grooms. It takes a special sub-species of homo-sapiens to want to marry Rakhi Sawant, the kind that can slide their balls on a razor’s edge and into a bowl of aftershave.

And what an unique species these mushtandas belong to.

A gabroo “God of Luv” named Luv Khanna (he announces his intentions with “Jaise Shree Raamji sadiyon se pahele Sita Maiyya ko swayamvar main jeeta tha , waisi hi is kaliyug main uska beta Luv aap ko jeet ke leke jayega”, an opening line that so impresses the traditional Rakhi that he wins the opening “first impressions” challenge).

An all-clad-in-white Gujrati NRI who drops hints that he is loaded (of course not that Rakhi cares for wealth—unrelated factoid is that he also won the “first impressions” challenge)

A gym instructor.

A dance master.

A comically flamboyant stunt coordinator.

A man with a hairstyle like a cat.

A policeman from Kashmir (a sure sign that infiltration is down in J&K is when a policeman from that state  gets leave to marry Rakhi Sawant)

A Bihari boy who hands Rakhi a kangan that his mother has sent for her dulhan.

A bunch of struggling actors who speak as if their spontaneous words of love are rehearsed.

A friend of Rakhi’s ex-beau Abhishek who the lady claims has been pursuing her ever since childhood (reality show experts opine that this man is the hook through which Abhishek might make a surprise appearance later on in the season).

A chocolate-faced, unemployed student.

And my personal favorite—a  man who claims he sits in temples thinking about Rakhi (“main ganaptiji ke mandir main baitha tha aap ke yaad main”). The man with the best story of all—who claims to have fallen in love with her after seeing her courage in the Mika incident and after seeing her dance in “Mohabbat hain mirchi”, a man who today just earns a few thousand rupees a month,  sacrificing an easy career earning thousands of dollars/pounds in New Jersey and UK just because of his love for Rakhi, a love that made him learn acting and dancing.

Impressive.

Summing them up, if you thought Rakhi is a self-effacing ordinary woman who does not care for publicity or hesitates to use notoriety for career-advancement you haven’t seen the men lining up to put a mangalsutra on her. They are even better.

The main reason I personally so much love the show is that it provides me occasion to speculate about legendary Swayamvars in the past. Did Karna gift Draupadi a pink teddy bear? Did Dushashan offer Draupadi an alcoholic beverage to which she like Rakhi Sawant, with an expression of careful shock on her face, ticked him off for offering a Bharatiya naari “Bacardi” ? Did Arjuna suddenly break out into an impromptu ” bhootni ke” dance in front of Panchali to seduce her?

All this of course means that I shall keep watching “Rakhi Sawant ka Swaymvar”.

I accept.

I cannot take my eyes off  it.

Because as the Aerosmith song goes “I don’t want to miss a thing.”

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91 thoughts on “Indian Television's Finest Hour

  1. Hi

    Am I the first???

    By the way I love your blog. Aspire to write like you. Would be posting short stories on outoftheblue.blogspot.com. Would appreciate your comments

    Shoubhik

  2. Moment of Truth is going to come on Indian Television. Wonder what are they going to ask in the show…

    Did you ever cheat in your third standard hindi paper?? and they will show the third standard hindi teacher with eyes glistening with tears-

    or maybe- did you ever surrendered yourself with shameful honesty in paying a traffic fine when you could have got away with a smaller bribe- and they will show the audience in shock when the guy says ‘Yes’

    Seriously, I wonder whether they can get away with the same kind of questions they ask on US television- did you ever sleep with a colleague when you were dating Keith, who is now your husband?

  3. Never seen the show. A friend asked me the other day, DId you see Rakhi ka swayamawat? I am like, wtf is that?
    Rakhi is a gutsy girl the friend said. [Edited: GB adds: Nothing potentially libelous here please]

  4. GB, no mention of the “amaaahzing” man from “orange city” ?

    L.O.L.

    PS- episode 3 is up for viewing.
    PPS- that’s right, my life is sad.

  5. though i m reading your blog since long, this is my very first post. rakhi is one icon, nobody wanna talk abt her but everybody does. she gives chances to media to bark upon. she started with roles as small as of a clerk being raped by second lead gundas in the film. then came her item girl image. she made us dance with her in many of her scantly clad versions. she even won our sympathy in mika case. and now here she is, again, in a totally new avatar. becoming from no body to some body and now in the bed room of everybody, hers is a grt story of success to tell. she may not be that talented but still she is there. whatever she did for publicity has become a way to stardome and many follow it. the show in itself is as example.

  6. Rakhi ka swayamvar Its more a humor serial than any real marriage . Rakhi is gaining massive popularity thru this but May rakhi get good husband thru this serial as she said taht she is serioulsy serching for life-partner with this serial

  7. GB, It’s like “flavor of love” or “I love new york” on VH1.It’s so over dramatic and over the top hilarious ,one just cannot not watch.I’ve already watched the third episode and am craving for more! I’m like one of those crack addicts from “The Wire” ,which is one of the best TV shows I’ve seen for a long time,and I highly recommend you to watch if,if you haven’t already done so.

  8. OH JEEJUS! what mirchi..mirchi..mirchi..Will they declare the day she marries a national holiday?

  9. Interesting Article and I appreciate Rakhi’s move but afraid keeping in mind the ‘langoor type aspirants….’ that in next 2-3 years, we may see sequel for this reality show as “Rakhi ka Swamwar Part-II” (Although I wish, ” My guess must be wrong and Rakhi may get good life partner). Best of Luck for Rakhi.

  10. I instantly fell in love with the show when I saw the first part of the first episode but then it was too much for a very short period of time. I am still relishing that first part so I haven’t moved on to watch the second part. In all seriousness, looking at the things that she has done in the past this move of her doesn’t surprise me at all. She is a drama queen. Can someone tell me how those people were short listed? Was it like people had to send out applications and based on the qualifications (if at all) she would select the final pool of candidates??

  11. Oh Yes!!! I have not missed a single episode and have awaited the start of the ‘most sensational reality TV show’ till date.
    It is just too entertaining to miss. And then the last show of course, where I wonder if she will be so caked by makeup and jewellery so that we cant see her real face.

    I wonder how long the final marriage will last. And do you think she will go for money (non hindi speaking white man) or ‘confident Luv’ or Manmohan? Hmm…and when will the boys start their in fighting? Its a drama waiting to unfold and every day is an adventure!

  12. Followed your blog for quiet some time now … have even gone through most of the archives …i must say i have read funnier post here… you had a lot of ammo on this topic ..1st rakhi sawant 2nd her swayamvar…. i presume u finished this in a jiffy.

  13. Now that section 377 is gone, I am already waiting for the next season of Rakhi Ka Swayamvar. After this season they will declare that Rakhi swings both the ways (not to be seen as a potential threat) and next season will have both men and women contestants.

    Tila Tequilla anyone!!? 😉

  14. @ an unique species

    Grammar ?

    an unique specimen ( would be correct)

    A unique species (correct)

    Not 100% sure though.

  15. LOL. And thus the producers will still prosper.

    And so will Rakhi. (I wonder if the suitors get paid any?) And the best part is that Rakhi does all her eyelash fluttering and demure-bride-to-be act in complete earnestness. She believes every single thing she makes up in her head.

  16. @Nitpicking,@Rachna
    Thanks god there’s ppl. like you (us) in the world. I’m not the lone grammar freak 😀

    Just to add to that..
    AN is used before words that start with the SOUND of vowels (not words that start with vowels).

    Thus – “An Honest” (even though the word Honest starts with a consonant , the sound of O implies using AN before it)

    “A Unique” (even though the word starts with a Vowel, the sound of Y (yooneek) implies using A (not AN) before it).

    YAY .. Grammar preaching.. so much fun. :p 🙂

    Sooo Rakhi sawant… possibly the indian version of britney/miley cyrus. Anything for publicity.
    Like GB once mentioned – Old school= Tawaaif , Aaj Kal = Item girl.

  17. guys, wasnt rakhi the one to be part of a sting operation by aaj tak channel abt 5-6 years back?

  18. Will we have a spin-off after the show called “Rakhi ki Suhagraat”?
    On a separate note, its good that they have started this show just as Savita Bhabhi got banned. What the I&B ministry takes away with one hand, they give back with the other hand.

  19. agree w/ venkatesh 100%…had been waiting in anticipation of ur post to put this new height of stupidity in perspective for me but was disappointed…

    post could have been hell lot of funnier than this one…not the quality we usually expect from your ROFL quality posts…u indeed did have a lot of ammo in one show even more so than the hilarious posts u have written on some 3 hour movies…would be great to see a lot more on the contestants…hopefully this is the first of many posts on RKS

  20. Its quite hilarious and very similar to “I LOVE NEW YORK” reality television series on VH1…

    cheers

    sounak

  21. The great thing about this show is that we get to read absolutely marvellous posts such as this….

    Glad to hear that you will not miss this show for the world…looking forward to future posts on it!!

  22. GB.. got a small question.. I really like your posts.. and equally njoy humorous and many a times thought provoking comments by fellow readers.
    But what is devil’s hell is this “Ipod” crap??? not that it is end of the world but really feel a bit irritated by this stuff after say reading a good post or comment. My apologies if ppl really do enjoy it and hence would like to know what this is about!.. (In case u are aware at all as the posts are done by a few fellow readers and not u )

  23. @Soumya,

    I wish I knew why it’s an iPod and not something else. Someone started it long time ago and since then it has become a tradition or an annoyance here at RTDM depending on your POV. I have had people sending me e-mail with their mailing address …so yes some people take this quite seriously.

  24. Bharat Mata ki jai
    This is such an informative cultural program…
    And hopefully Sawant will get the blessings from the ‘living God’ Mayawati…(what a rant!!)

  25. Hello sir love your blog….following for a long time…commenting first time. First things first i was waiting for this Swayamwar write up but I dont find it anywhere near to standards of your sarcasm and humor. I think you should have taken a little more time. Nywaz loved this line…
    ……the kind that can slide their balls on a razor’s edge and into a bowl of aftershave……ha ha…..awesome

    You know in that episode where Rakhi goes out on a date with this guy….she asks what the guy wants in dahej(dowry)….that shameless demented soul asks Rakhi that she should just bring good Samskar….God damn it its like asking Sooraj Barjatyay(Rajshree productions) to direct an action film….its like asking a punjabi to describe a good meal without Chicken in menu…..its like asking Sehwag to score a century without a boundary in it….or Shreesanth to act sober.

  26. Dude,

    We watched this on youtube, and trust me, as cheap and funny the show might seem, it’s quite addictive. We couldn’t stop laughing at the show and the contestants’ love for the great Rakhi Sawant !!!

    Truly, this is the unparalleled champion of the Indian television industry . Indian TV has come a long way from Bharat ek Khoj to Rakhi ka swayamwar 🙂

  27. Side note… Homosexuality has been de-criminalised by Delhi court. But anal sex is still a crime in india. (o_O)

  28. GB…
    You might be already knowing before “her star turn as a chick with a dick in “Masti”” she was already famous for her KamaSutra video where she exhibited quite a few acrobatic and exotic pose. That might become a documentary later and a instruction manual for the winner of the show!
    Wont be surprised if a new version comes out with the winner as “Return of Rakhi ki Suhaagrat”

  29. Hey Arnab,

    I couldn’t stop my sudden outburst of laugh when I read on the line….A man with a hairstyle like a cat.
    i am at office, may be my half boss sitting on the back of me think , how can people laugh reading an online story? Heyy, it’s possible, isn’t it?

    When raki’s swamboyar is on screen, even I off the most interesting scene that I enjoy on a Tv screen not because that I have likings for her (honestly not so much) but I want to see how the suitors project themselves here.

    By the way,,Gay sex is legalized in India, may be u already tracked it. But u will surprise to know that in 1990 a lesbian couple in Assam got married and lead a happy life. It was telecasted in Newslive, a satelite channel from North east.

  30. @ RichandFamous
    Come with a female id.

    @ BonglundLess
    not so fast….he is writing a book…and has a day job too.

  31. Raakhi maatha is the epitome of virtue, and I honestly believe that she is in the show to get a good hubby.. i dont like people casting doubts on her intentions..
    sigh..if only the acad pressure in xlri were not so hectic; have not been able to catch the show on TV..

    Raakhi maatha shoodh hai !

    http://maskasjhatkaas.com

  32. I’ve got another media highlight for you.

    On the CNN-IBN homepage, http://www.ibnlive.com the highlights of the rail budget are listed as follows :

    * Mamata ends Rail Budget speech with Urdu couplet
    * No hike in freight rates
    * No increase in passenger fares across classes

    Really ?? The biggest highlight is that Mamata ends her speech with Urdu couplet.

  33. @Arnab da, though I luv ur posts, I seriously 😉 dont like this casting of aspersions on Rakhijhi’s intentions to get a good groom an live a happy married life everafter..

    Raakhi mata shoodh hai, if not, let the sky fall down !

    It still hasn’t ! I told u na..

    p.s. why are my comments deleted arnab da ? i ve never mentioned any obscene word…???

  34. Good news for the ones who have not yet watched the bhartiya naari’s quest! Imagine (they should rename as NDTV??Imagine??!!) is showing a weekend special of the show starting from 12pm to 5.30pm. Good opportunity for CBI/CID etc who are constantly questioned by human rights agencies.. and for those in HR :).. keep those chairs, ropes and handcuffs handy.

    Also recommened for S&M lovers who have gone to the realm of the mind!

    And for T-shirts brands who cane come up with ‘I survived Rakhi’s Swamvaar’.

    Pity the contestants, who are being marked for life, with people questioning their sense of reasoning, etc.. celibacy is written allover them.

    A better twist than Atirik (Abhishek’s friend) would be introducing Sambhavna Seth as the bride in waiting.. this lady deserves a show of her own in similar lines.

    I watch mostly English programmes with my Anglo Indian landlady. If she wants watch hindi, I do insta-translations! I gave up after a while though the dear old lady is a lover of reality tv, including the much maligned ‘oment of Truth’… she said that Rahul Gandhi should have a show like this!!

  35. And people say I’m the only one watching it!
    Finally, someone who understands the monumental shifts that Rakhi will herald with this.

    I tell people I love Rakhi Sawant and they don’t get it.
    And hence in Public Interest, with the intentions of a golden heart gift-wrapped with the auspicious gerua-dhaaga, I present: Why I Love Rakhi Sawant – http:whyiloverakhisawant.blogspot.com

  36. Pingback: Rakhi Ka Swayamvar Comic - | Indian comics about life and irritations. | Free Comics

  37. And how could I forget the moment when Manmohan or similar compared spoke of Rakhi being at par with Rani of Jhansi and Indira Gandhi .. :). Is Sherlyn Chopra listening?

  38. Pingback: Rakhi Sawant ka swayamvar « nothin… much

  39. >I cannot take my eyes off it.

    Lol. I only hope that
    a) you don’t poke your own eyes out sometime in the near future
    b) your brain doesn’t ooze out of your ears, eyes and nostrils sometime in the near future.

    Cheers! 😀

  40. GB,We,the readers,would love to read the synopsis of each episode,as seen thru your unique perspective. 🙂

  41. A maiyyyzing!!!!!
    A d, ou do seem to manage to hook me to things.
    I have you to blame for all the late nights I am keeping to watch this show!!
    Cant wait for the mehndi sangeet and the rigmarole that is lined up (provided people keep watching and the TRPs are on the ascent)
    What a monument to the institution of marriage!
    BTW did you notice in one episode she says that she watched auditions and selected the prospective grooms (the one where she tells Raman Handa that she hasnt seen any “call-ities’ she likes in him but she felt he was confident during the auditions) and the first episode where she sees the guy who was her ex’s best friend she is “shock”. Also when the muslim guy reveals that he is married; isnt it ridiculous that the prospective groom hunt for a “celebrity” like Rakhi Sawant did not undergo background checks or have a document where the candidates list if there are or were married. Talking about real reality shows, this one definitely takes the cake! Looking forward to more such bloopers in the show.

  42. How I wish you would write a sequel to this piece…. I am hooked to it, and it gets better every day. Move over MTV’s anorexic teen divas and Ranvijay’s bi*ches…. Rakhi is here!!!

  43. Rocky’s suhaagraat will be a pay per view affair.
    Tickets available at UPTO 50% discount.
    Offer valid till stocks last.

  44. Hi Arnab,

    Like all your posts but this is the first time I am responding. I agree with you on getting addicted to the show. I was waiting to see the show as soon as it was advertised and I found it really funny and am looking forward to see the second and the third episodes.(Hopefully they are more funnier)

    Ronak

  45. Gawd ! I tried watching that show but felt so nauseated in two minutes that I decided never to venture it again. She is the crassest thing that thrived in Indian media, and the candidates are unspeakable. But I suppose it sells ! I feel bad for Ram Kapur though. He used to look good once.

  46. I just watched the first 2 episodes because everyone was talking abt it. The show is so fake that u can’t help laughing. BTW I am also expecting a second season 😛

  47. This is Indian television finest hour. I swear I have not seen anything that makes me laugh so uncontrollably. I think it is so damn good that I feel blessed to be born in its time. How truly unfortunate are the Indians who died without seeing this….

    Can we say this is in the same superlative league as Gunda?

  48. Hello,

    Won’t u write about pati, petni aur WOH? I saw this India TV (what else??) news item with the screen slipt between Rakhi, the little kid’s mom – and both arguing at the top of their voices about the bechara baccha. Please do write about this one also. The show also features Rakhi-Elesh’s numerous PDA. Verry unabashed. I wonder if she’ll divorce on TV as well!! 😀

  49. um hello..lots of unintentional slip-ups in my previous comment, so i’m writing again:

    Won’t u write about pati, petni aur WOH? I saw this India TV (what else??) news item in which the screen was split between Rakhi and the little kid’s mom – with both arguing at the top of their voices about the bechara baccha. Please do write about this show. The show also features Rakhi-Elesh’s numerous PDA. Verry unabashed. I wonder if she’ll divorce on TV as well!!:-P

  50. Pingback: blog-thinking aloud part duex « staying.cool

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