India’s prime-time entertainment channel, LOL Sabha TV and its premier political and legislative debating channel Eight Times Today have announced a new commercial joint project. Based on recent developments in India in the entertainment and political sectors, the two channels plan to film and televise a new political reality show called Kaun Rahega Crorepati? (Who Will Stay a Millionaire?) which will be telecast eight times everyday.
The show will last for five years, and in the words of key anchor and host Gonab Aswami, will be “entirely irreverent, and even more irrelevant” and feature “extensive rioting, violence, insinuation and chest-thumping, while providing intensive entertainment and ever-lasting fun.” The show is being pitched as a political reality and debating show that, while entertaining the millions of Indians with no electricity and no toilets, will also educate them on how to achieve absolute lack of governance in the majority of the country.
The essence of the show, according to Gonab is simple. Several crore-patis will be placed in a large room, and provided with vital statistics on each other, some loose furniture, a few weapons and microphones and then let loose. The objective of each participant is to appropriate the wealth of the others by any means, legal or illegal. At the end of the show (timeline yet to be decided, but probably 5 years), all participants with greater wealth than when they started will remain, while among those who have lost money or land, or remained honest and decent, 90% will be voted out.
While the media directors of the two channels remain tight-lipped about the format of the show, some lowly-placed sources and potential participants indicate that it could be closely based on a standard format applied in India’s current goondacracy. These sources also have opinions on the show’s likely format. One crore-pati who refused to be named but has been previously filmed in a variety of uncompromising yogic stances, said that in his experience the show would have to follow certain basic rules in order to be successful. First, it should have an effective filter for its participants, with only those crore-patis being allowed in who had a minimum of 5 civil cases and atleast 1 serious criminal case against them.
In his words, “a serious criminal case, preferably that of murder and/or kidnapping is an essential quality to render the show entertaining. I mean, we are after all providing a service to the people, aren’t we?”. A true visionary, this man. He also said that the show should extend its participant base to include religiously offensive hacks, extremists and gun-toting, motorcycle-riding pseudo-religious thugs, in order to “add colour to otherwise dull debates on the principles of good living.” The writers of this article could not agree more.
Another crore-pati when asked about this, not only agreed but said he would go even further and “introduce a mandatory 33% reservation for new participants based on the distastefulness of their views on caste, race, sex, or sexual orientation.” This man however refused to be photographed (but was okay with being filmed) saying it would destroy his delicately constructed credibility amongst the masses. Unfortunately our team did not have a video camera, though several of his salutory opinions on forcefully obtainable world peace are available on Youtube.
Gonab Aswami, wishing the venture full success, said this would be the first time in television history that the entire population of the country – not just those with an Eight Times Today subscription – would be allowed to participate, by voting out participants. “Due to the rather considerable size of the TV watching population of India (he is truly a master of under-statement), this voting would have to only take place once every five years” he said. “But, in the meantime, we will provide every irrelevant infographic and replay every video of a particularly violent debate several times to ensure that nobody misses out.”
Amongst allegations of copyright infringement from several such shows in the US, UK, the media directors of both Eight Times Today and LOL Sabha TV insisted that they have not been inspired by any of these shows, particularly, The Apprentice, The Indian Goondacracy, or the popular US reality show, Who Wants to Stay a Millionaire? (subtitle: at the expense of the hobo).
Gonab Aswami took great umbrage at this accusation and said “Never ever, ever ever, ever ever” for the rest of the day. At the time of writing this article, we still await the end of his sentence and will bring it to you as it breaks. However, in the writer’s humble opinion, if the success of the Indian Goondacracy is anything to go by, this show, will do well to be inspired by this gritty, entertaining and absolutely irrelevant drama.