Saturday, March 22, 2008

9.FUN REPUBLIC: Is it dance or rolance?

From Boogie Woogie to Jhalak Dikhla Ja and from Nach Baliye to Rock `n' Roll Family, the celebration time on Indian television has yet to stop. Opening any popular channel on the television takes one to live (or recorded) images of children, couples and families dancing their way to ecstasy, giving a feeling that the entire country has hit the dance floor. Age no bar, caste no consideration and gender undifferentiated, dance has been democraticised across the television channels for past few years. With most reality dance shows generating hefty sponsorship revenue through respectable viewership (or TRP), the channels are unwilling to let the genre rest in peace.

After kids, couples and parents having been on it, one wonders who could be the next? Don't be surprised if your maid makes it to next grade of the reality dance show! And why not? But spare a moment for the suspecting wife who will find her husband publically cheer the pelvic gyrations of his favourite maid! There could be much in store as reality shows expand their penetration into small towns and cities - making celebration `inclusive'. Did'nt the prime minister reiterate the need to `make growth inclusive'? Here it is, the television channels have shown the way to do it.

With a nation-wide audience in attendance and with prizes worth lakhs in store, no one is scared to look silly. Instant stardom and quick cash is on the minds of the burgeoning middle class, from Jaipur to Jamshedpur and from Pune to Purulia. Clearly, small town India has shed all its inhibitions to go where no other from their generation has gone before - to the studio dance floor. However much one shun the dance floor or opt out of the live program, we remain party to this great `celebration era' of modern times as each purchase at the grocery store and every text message from our mobile contributes to making the unsuspecting public dance to the greedy tune for making instant money.

Be it the corpulent grandparents or their precocious offspring, each represents a society in transition with huge `aspirations'. As bad policy and inept governance dumb the public mindscape, reality shows have seemingly emerged as convenient vents for releasing accumulated frustrations with the prime motive of realising one's hidden aspirations. But being a public display of collective emotions it reflects us as a nation that has stopped thinking; that no longer rues inherent fatalism of accepting injustices; and that which cocoons itself from the rest of its fraternity for narrow self-interests?

Else, how could this unique public-private partnership engage in collective celebration when farmers' suicides have become more of a norm than exception; when millions face displacement at the altar of giganticism; and when one-third of districts in the country exert self-rule. The dance floors may be distanced from such realities but dry taps, choked drains and clogged roads are everyday realities in the colonies and the streets that these dancers cross to reach the studio. Isn't it is clear reflection of mind-body-spirit disunity in a deficit democracy where consumerism pretends to fix problems by creating illusion of affluence and opulence?

Could this dance be anything but rolance - a belief wherein the dead body starts dancing under the influence of an evil spirit. People in the Lahaul-Spiti region of the Himalayas (in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India) believe that if a dead body is kept without proper vigil, an evil spirit enters into it. Haven't evil spirits entered our collective self-conscious? It is further said that as an evil spirit enters the dead body, it starts doing all kind of odd things including dancing. As you watch the next episode of your favourite reality dance show, imagine them to be the rolances of our times!