Can you face the truth? This is what an Indian television show based on America’s The Moment of Truth seems to ask its guests and, vicariously, its participants. Sach ka Saamna has already landed in trouble because people are confessing about their sex lives, their marital discords, their misdemeanours. The Indian courts have suddenly becoming liberal and have not permitted any action against the show.
That has not stopped the ever-looming godmen from jumping into the fray. Swami Ramdev who has models and film stars to grace many of his public yoga meetings and appears on music shows as a judge (!) has declared, “By giving the impression that promiscuous behaviour and infidelity was common, such programmes are promoting these tendencies. In reality, a majority of the people of our country are not the kind that appear on the show.”
A majority of the people in our country would not appear on such shows because of several factors – the primary one being that we are fed to believe that every act is sinful to be committed in hiding. I am not suggesting that coming out is the best thing. In fact, these are highly personal and private matters, but they are not matters of public morality.
Our films and TV soaps show multiple marriages, adultery, promiscuity, dowry demands, abuse – physical and mental, and our newspapers and news channels carry such reports and follow up with tongue-hanging-out discussions. Do people go and emulate these?
I have watched a few of the episodes of the reality show and many of the participants are working people. It is interesting to see women openly admit that they do believe they are better qualified and successful than their spouses with the spouse being present on the show. It is heartening to see a woman who is not in the glossies openly say that she is responsible for what she has done. Most of the participants have confessed to blunders on their part; very few have blamed others. And the polygraph tests have confirmed it. Again, we are dealing with an instrument that checks how the body and mind are responding to a query. It may not be completely foolproof, but on one occasion when a woman’s truth was shown up as wrong she said that she had in fact lied. She is not a celebrity and I do not even recall her name. The men too have come out with their truths along similar lines.
Is this exhibitionism? Are they here for publicity? Possible. We do live in a world where reality shows and reality seem to have a veneer of fiction.
Swami Ramdev too thrives on such reality and such eyeball grabbing ruses. As do many religious figures. Their religiosity and high moral ground needs a bit of public levitation.
There was a news report today about how a granthi (priest) in a (Sikh temple) was caught watching clips of a porn film on his mobile phone that was hidden under the table on which he had kept the scripture.
He has been removed and a case filed against him. From now on, no priest would be allowed to carry cellphones into the temple. Isn’t this merely a superficial remedy? What do the authorities find wrong – a holy person watching pornography, or doing it on the sly, or keeping it alongside the scriptures? If it is the second, then he would watch it elsewhere and must have been doing it for a while. He may not be the only one. If it is the last, then lesser mortals may be doing similar things and no one is to know. Now, we come to the first, should priests be watching pornography?
It is possible for the human mind to fantasise and strip fully clothed people. Is that porn? It is possible for devotees to find some religious person attractive as he exposes his body. Is that porn? I would like to hear what these media-propped priests have to say about these issues. One rarely hears them comment about the several sexual crimes that take place in our country on a daily basis, especially in rural areas and the slums. Does that not bother them?
As for the show, if a woman says she would sleep with a man if her husband would not come to know about it, I do not reckon people will follow her personal choice. However, if a tantrik or shaman tells millions in India that sacrificing babies will make men more potent or that sending their wives to sleep with them would get their families male heirs, they will follow such advice.
So, which reality is having a negative effect?