A spectre is haunting the urban youth of the country – the spectre of ‘Roadies’. This hour-long television programme, telecast on MTV every Saturday at 7 pm, has become one of the most debated topics amongst the youth of today.
The show started a month back, with auditions in cities across India. Many hopefuls travelled to these cities and were made to go through a gruelling group discussion and then an interview, the most embarrassing and candid moments of which were showcased to the entire country.
The audience witnessed various candidates hurling abuses at themselves, the judges and the world at large. Others acted like elephants, monkeys and were often asked to attempt a handstand.
The aim of this exercise was to test the candidates’ mental limits as also their resolve. All efforts were made by the judges to push them over the edge. The country then watched the candidates cry, act stubborn, or simply just give up.
The promotion of the show is done through the creation of grotesque imagery, which includes blood, dead animals, and stereotypically scary characters.
When the show finally started, there were thirteen contestants, who had packed their bags and arrived at the ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. Two of them were eliminated at this stage itself.
The essence of the show, as is evident, is a road trip across the country, as well as travelling to Thailand and Malaysia, as evident by the tagline: “The game goes international”.
Apart from this, the show incorporates immunity tasks, as well as something labelled as an ‘advantage task’.
These include extracting sugarcane juice with the help of buffaloes, performing tough yoga postures and playing ‘strip sms’, amongst various others. The candidates aim to do whatever it takes for them to gain immunity. This was proven when one contestant overcame her fear of heights and several other contestants stripped down to their underwear.
Apart from these tasks, what is integral to the show is the intense politics that continues to unfold behind the scenes. All the contestants are engaged in a desperate struggle to win the contest and are invariably plotting to eliminate the other contestants.
The viewer is witness to clandestine conversations, fake actions, back biting, and various other conventional forms of manipulation. This complements what Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Insanity in individuals is a rarity, insanity in groups, parties, and institutions is a rule.”
The show has its lighter moments, as well. For instance, love in the air, exhilaration when a task is successfully completed, and various other touching moments.
Although the show comes across as an entertainer for the youth, it also raises other controversial issues. For instance, the age group tuning in to the show includes kids as young as 12. Many parents are not in favour of this show. However, they are helpless, and due to the show’s popularity, children are liable to watch ‘Roadies’ in spite of parental objection.
The politics which the show depicts might be disapproved by some, and even the grotesque imagery is often questionable.
The show however, is satisfying at various levels, and is a perfect mirror to our society. It gives the informed viewer a valuable insight to the mind of the youth, the choices they make, the subsequent reasons for these choices, and the subtle market forces acting behind the show.
Also, the various places to which the contestants travel as a part of the show, give a valuable insight to our country, something which no sedate travel programme can ever do. The promotion of local resources and talent also curry favour with the viewer.
The man behind the show, Raghu Ram, the quintessential strategist and a face of the youth, has undoubtedly made sure that young adults are addicted to it.
Attractive prize packets and exposure are just some of the factors which attract the youth towards this show. It is not surprising, therefore, that it is one of the most watched shows on television today.
It is suggested to watch the show, and decide for oneself whether it lives up to its expectations. Not a tough task, considering the manner in which the show is promoted by MTV.