Thursday, October 20, 2005
The Fame Game
In a couple of hours from now the winners of the Fame Gurukul contest will be announced and I have little doubt that 'jodi no 1' is going to be Qazi and Ruprekha.
Why? Well, there were only 3 choices. The boy-boy jodi of Rex and Qazi will never get enough votes. Rex and Ruprekha? Well, going by the Indian Idol precedent the winner is going to be the better looking one.
My daughter Nivedita puts it quite simply. "Mummy", she said, "I want to vote for Qazi. Why? "Because he is nice, he has curly hair.". Rex? "No, he is fat..."
Uh huh. So it's really not about singing talent, which incidentally, all the three finalists on Fame Gurukul don't rate highly on, in my book. The talent on Indian Idol was far better).
Draamebaazi and crocodile tears are what sustained interest in Fame - and of course, the antics of Qazi.
Qazi is one of those 'born performers'. He knows what buttons to push with an audience - that's how he's logged in 60 lakh votes already.
The voting decision is based on a 'blink' moment, who people feel they 'like' more. It could be Qazi's 'puppy dog eyes', his silly grin. The fact that he's a Hrithik look-alike and dance-alike could have worked against him but surprisingly hasn't.
The multi-channel blitz
What is interesting about Fame is how Sony has managed to raise a mediocre show to a much higher level through a series of alliances.
Most visible (and relevant) was the MTV-Fame Gurukul tie up where V J Sophie took viewers 'behind the scenes', right after the original show aired on Sony.
Then there's what appears to be a TV Today tie-up - the show was 'aired' on Red FM 93.5 and tonight Aaj Tak devoted its entire "Aapka sawaal" show to the question of 'who will be the next Fame jodi'.
A mini-site has been set up on Sify where you can watch videos of shows you might have missed etc.
The idea being, wherever you turn you have Fame Gurukul pouring out of your ears - so like it or not, you can't ignore it. Of course, all this must have cost Sony big bucks but that's what it will take from now on to build big shows.
On a final, and personal note, I also like the fact that Qazi is a Kashmiri. His winning Fame Gurukul would, I think, bring in a much-needed connect between the youth of Kashmir and the mainstream of India.
So yes, my vote was with Qazi and Ruprekha - and it would surprise me greatly if results turn out differently. Let's wait and see... !
Update: Qazi and Ruprekha DID win.
The amount of time Mandira "dunno-why-she-is-popular" Bedi took to announce the winners truly got on my nerves! It was timed perfectly though... 10.30 pm onwards 'AajTak' flashed the Qazi-Ruprekha 'fame jodi' as Breaking News. (!) The channel had already thoughtfully lined up the families of the winners - in Srinagar and Kolkata - to gush about their honhaar bachche.
So a non-event became national 'breaking news' and gets a full half-hour show devoted to it as well.
The ratings which come in (likely to be good - as there was no interesting 'real news' on other channels at the time) will lead to many more such 'advertorial' tie-ups. Be sure that Nach Balliye will use a similar strategy, with Star News in its own channel portfolio.
The ultimate irony, isn't it? 'Reality shows' and their contestants becoming more real and newsworthy for viewers ... than reality itself.