Choosing a life partner on television
There is this reality show on television called Raakhi ka Swayamvar, where a Bollywood starlet (Rakhi Sawant) and item girl is choosing her life partner out of 16 men that are short listed for the purpose. The show seems to be based on The Bachelor, an American reality show where a man chooses a woman out of the 25 that are short listed. Another U.S. reality show, gender reversed, is The Bachelorette which is currently running in the U.S. The American shows culminate in a serious relationship, not necessary a marriage proposal, but the star of the show does choose one out of the many before him/her after a series of dates. There have been cases where the star feels that no one is suitable and at times the selected person backs out.
Raakhi ka Swayamvar is apparently a hit, although a lot of people wonder whether Raakhi is serious about choosing her life partner on the show. I do not know the facts, although a television sting operation has revealed that she has no intention to marry any one of them. Her not marrying anyone if no one is suitable seems reasonable to me, although I am sure some people expect her to choose someone or the other to prove that the show is real. Even if she rejects them all it does not mean that the show is a fraud because this is what life is all about. There should certainly be no pressure on anyone to be with someone if they don’t want to. However if the ending has been staged as many believe, and Rakhi has never had any intention to marry any one of them, then it is a shame indeed for NDTV Imagine. They should be sued for cheating.
In any case, the show seems scripted although there is a hint of reality to certain scenes. I personally find the show a rather humiliating one for the contestants, but I don’t want to go into the merits of the programme or even talk about the drama on screen. What is more interesting is the question of how one chooses one’s life partner.
How one chooses one’s life partner is critical when it comes to the success of the partnership and when I say How I do not mean love or arranged. I mean what are the qualities that one looks for in a husband or wife? Generally speaking people go about it in a very subjective way, going by their own likes and dislikes, their own needs, attitudes and feelings, and while this is important, there are also other things which are necessary in a relationship. Mutual abilities like mutual respect, mutual love and mutual compromise, regardless of the habits and lifestyle of the person.
When it comes to Raakhi, she seems to have her priorities a little mixed. She keeps repeating that she wants to be loved, very very much. Why? Because she didn’t get much love in her life. If this is really the criteria by which she wants to marry she is going to find it tough, because it is easy to pretend to love, specially for a few weeks. In any case, even if the contestants feel romantic love for her, it is only romantic love after all. Romantic love can turn into real love only with mutual respect and mutual compromise over the months and years that follow. Sure, she does talk about respect, and has kicked out one contestant for daring to question her virginity, but this does not mean that the other contestants respect her. They could be keeping quiet because they want something from her, they are being paid by the channel, or they simply want to stay on in the show for publicity. A TV show is not going to get anyone an ideal partner. Also, Rakhi’s obsession with being loved and admired seems to me very close to narcissism. I sincerely hope for her sake that this is an act and that she is not like this in real life. That a man adoring her unconditionally, whether she loves him back or not, is not the main thing that is driving her to choose her life partner.
The show may be fake, but people are watching it. However, I doubt that they are watching Rakhi as such. They are watching a show about marriage, a subject that consumes most of us Indians. There has never been such a show on Indian television before and it is not going to be the last one either. Madhuri Dixit’s reality show where she tried to get compatible couples together was a flop. This show is different as it has the excitement of contestants getting eliminated one by one. As its American predecessor proved, a show like this can generate a lot of interest if it remains genuine.
Update, 3rd August: Well, it looks like Rakhi is serious about getting married to someone on the show. She has chosen one of the contestants (Elesh Parujanwala from Toronto) and it looks like he wants to marry her too. However as of now they are only engaged, wanting time to get to know each other. I think that’s a wise move. Marrying someone after knowing the person only on a tv show is a huge mistake. They need to know each other in real life. TV is certainly not life!
Related Reading: The chances of finding the right partner depends on when you choose
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Arranged marriage or a love marriage – which is better?
The downside of reality shows
Which is worse for a marriage: a physical relationship or an emotional one?
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How Women are portrayed in Bollywood