Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Dating Shame

"Channels across genres are using dating shows to reach out to youth", says a report in 'The Brand Reporter, the fortnightly print magazine from

The report goes on to mention shows like 'Agent Love' on Channel [V], Har Dil jo love karega on Zoom, Humse Dosti Karoge on Star Gold and Hello Friend on Vijay TV.

Amar Deb, head honcho, Channel [V] is quoted as saying, "Everyone wants to copy a good idea. [V] Crush was one of our most successful shows and has led to a lot of other channels following the path."

Reality Check
True, there are a number of shows with the word love, dil or pyaar in them - but are they really about 'dating'? And can you honestly call them a success??

From what I remember of Crush, it was a show where lovelorn young men were assisted in tracking down some long lost "crush". They would then land up to 'surprise' the girl by landing up at her doorstep with a TV crew. Some went as far as singing besura love songs outisde the hapless girl's house.

Naturally, not all girls were overjoyed - and neither were their parents. Neither did it make for 'compelling' viewing.

Coming to 'Agent Love' - well, the idea here is for a VJ to select a random boy and girl and convince them to go on a blind date. As a bonus the couple gets a free makeover.

One young man whose friend happened to be selected as 'random boy' described the experience thus:
"We searched an entire shopping mall for some girl who would be willing to go on a blind date. No one volunteered. Finally, a young woman from the [V] PR team sat in a Barista and 'posed' as a random girl. We both got makeovers - and went on a 'date'."

This, he says, is what generally happens. While there are more than enough guys willing, girls just think it's a dumb idea/ worry what mom will say/ already have a (jealous) boyfriend.

No thanks!
Forget reality shows, take a look at Indian 'dating' sites. The guys registered generally outnumber girls by 10: 1.

There are girls who are into dating, but generally those girls are already spoilt for attention - and choice - in the real world.

A large number of girls on the other hand do not have the freedom to date. They know it would be against their family's wishes and hence consciously stay away from 'such things'.

Or they are too timid/ underconfident to think of attracting the opposite sex. They are intimidated by the 'hep' girls who dress and groom themselves better.

The net could offer them a chance to date, but they're neither net-savvy nor have unrestricted use of a home PC. Actually going to a cybercafe, alone, to chat with strange boys would be asking for too much courage on their part!

So, the available pool of 'date-able' girls remains restricted.

Guys on the other hand - even those from so called conservative families - are keen to date. But, they don't want to date behenjis. Ever hopeful, they register on dating sites where, unfortunately, few are able to even describe themselves cohenrently.

'Hi! I'm Jites and I want friendship with girls" is the standard opening line and as can be expected, it gets them nowhere!

The tide eventually turns, as girls do register in large numbers for matrimonial sites. But then the profile is older - average age being about 25.

Show me the honey
Getting back to the 'dating shows' enumerated, I would not even classify the others as such. The Zoom TV show, for example, is about a bunch of girls singing and dancing to impress a celebrity judge.

Delhi University Sociology lecturer Grace Nemching says in the article,"A lot of viewers watch these shows for pure entertainment. Some watch such shows believing they will help them in picking up some dating tips."

Singing and dancing to impress your potential mate? Sounds more like an arranged marriage to me!

Bottomline: Dating is still alien to 'Indian culture' because it implies mental and possibly physical contact with a series of people from the opposite sex. And most parents/ society at large is unable to accept this trial and error kind of sampling of 'love'.


  1. I appreciate the way you pick up issues related to youth. Great writing, keep posing more insight.

  2. Pretty good post. This is something which all of us think about, in parts or whole, at different points in time. You've have put it down clearly. What I wonder about is - whether we are moving forward? While the TV shows have aped the west and made similar shows, the society and the people are still lagging behind. Am wondering if the TV channels alone will be able to help us indians make the shift? I am not advocating for dating nor am I against it. My grouse is against the way interacting with opposite sex is considered a grave crime in most families. That has to go away. It has got nothing to do with marriage or sex.

  3. Anonymous8:50 PM

    sriram: "My grouse is against the way interacting with opposite sex is considered a grave crime in most families. That has to go away."

    I don't see why this has to go away. Nothing any family decides for themselevs _has_ to go away. The only thing that has to go away is people who don't belong to my family (including the fucking government) considering an act between two consenting adults to be a grave crime. This "moving forward" that you speak you realise that it is achieved only when society and the state values Individual Freedom?

  4. 10:1 is an understatement :)

  5. Anonymous2:20 AM

    For a liberal thinking blog, the views expressed are failry conservative. Case in point: Number of high-school/college kids today, who go aorund, versus even 5 years ago. The statement that dating is 'Alien' to India, is very subjective. As in most of the metro areas, it is very common now.

  6. And most parents/ society at large is unable to accept this trial and error kind of sampling of 'love'.
    You just SAID it!

  7. What is also worrying is that most of the youth is getting introduced to the concepts of dating through these shows and the quality of the shows leaves a lot to be desired.The bottomline is people are still intimidated of even talking to the opposite sex even those who come from the so-called 'Co-education' schools/colleges leave alone the boys-only or girls-only schoos/colleges

  8. Anonymous5:30 PM

    hey, do you remember that really terrible show with Madhuri Dixit - on Sony (?) - couples in very Hum Aapke type outfits wedged uncomfortably on one chhota swing. blushing and stammering... 'dating' is still a bad word in India...

  9. Really interesting post. In India, people are very curious about dating. Its still largely a very western concept. Even my educated friends and friends returned from a stay abroad, raise a suspecting
    eyebrow at the mention of a 'date'.The reality shows & social networking websites are simply cashing in on the curiosity of the viewers.

  10. Indians are scared of everything. They aren't adventurous enough. The problem is the parents. I don't know if they want others to suffer because they didn't have the chance to be like this or if they are just plain dumb. I see parents and get sick. They smother children with too much love and affection. If the child wants to touch fire, they stop it saying,"No no! Don't touch it!". If was a parent, I'd let the kid touch the fire. Then the kid would know what happens. Parents should just let their daughters and sons do whatever they want instead of infringing on their fundamental rights. So what if a girl goes out to date with a guy? For heaven's sake, most girls think sex is bad, if they know what it is. Things are changing,but very slowly...

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