Join 3,423 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Reality of India
January 7, 2012 9:24 AM   Subscribe

This is a story of a young man named Chotu Lohar* from a small nondescript village in one of the poorest states of India. He dropped out of school to work in the iron mines. Music on a radio was the only entertainment available in his house but last year he came to national notice on a reality show called Dance India Dance - where although his untutored enthusiasm and energy captured attention - he was unable to make the cut. His passion, on the other hand, caught the interest** of the show's producers who took him under their wing and a year later, he's just made the shortlist for this year's show.

Reality TV has come late to India but gained immense popularity so rapidly that the phenomenon hit global media. There has been much discussion on its 'corruptive influence' on youth and society but the stories that emerge of those that made good offer a different perspective on their value.

These young people no longer have to act or rely on the whimsy of directors and producers. The dream now trades on raw ability. To sing, to dance, to laugh. Stardom has been democratised and it seems all of India is lining up at the booth.


*Chotu Lohar literally means 'little ironworker'. No translation of the video story (last year link) was available so here's a synopsis: I come from a little village known as 'little village' in the iron working district of Orissa. I have always loved dance and listening to music and dancing gave me something in life since I was a young boy. We are poor so I had to leave school to go to work to help feed my family, I have worked on the roads, breaking stones and also in the iron mines. My father has said this is my first and last chance (season 2, his first appearance) as we cannot afford for me to do this. I listened to Vividh Bharati (state run radio) and let the music teach me how to move.

**Dialogue between producer and Chotu: “Aap agar untrained hoke itna achha dance kar sakte ho....toh I wonder under training aap kitna achha perform karoge,” was Remo’s immediate reaction. A teary-eyed Chotu said, “Sir, train karne ke liye paise kahan hai....pet bharne ke liye paise nahi hote, dance karne ke liye paise kahan se laoonga.” Chotu says "Sir, where is the money for training? There's no money to fill the stomach, where will I bring money to dance?"
posted by infini (7 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Zoolander was a documentary?
posted by b1tr0t at 1:57 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's funny that the producers don't even think of asking the father to get rid of that great gobful of paan that he's chewing on before recording the interview.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:06 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always found the phrases like "corruptive influence" to really mean "young people are doing things I don't understand, make them stop."

Also, what language is he speaking, Oriya?
posted by Panjandrum at 2:18 PM on January 7, 2012


As far as I can tell, regular Hindi, as its national television. Actually my mother told me this story today after she saw the finals on her cable channel. The few performances I caught by people whose mother tongue was not hindi showed pretty obviously that they'd learnt enough to communicate on popular cable channels but it was not something they were comfortable talking in. Lohar's father is apparently a bulldozer driver, he may have learnt it on the job. Also what little I could find online on "Lohars" seems to imply its not originally Oriya surname.
posted by infini at 2:34 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always found the phrases like "corruptive influence" to really mean "young people are doing things I don't understand, make them stop."

Except in this case, there couldn't be a person alive on the subcontinent who doesn't understand the concept of young people wiggling their butts like Bollywood filmi stars & starlets, hoping to gain fame & fortune in the process.

The real problem is that for young women especially, that kind of career is something a regular villagewallah might love watching on the big screen, but Shiva forbid that anybody in your own family might be associated in any way with the film industry, what with all the innuendo about casting couches & all. Starlets are scandalous enough with their freewheeling love interests, but lower down the filmi hierarchy are all the wannabes - the dancers & "item girls" who are generally considered to be no better than whores.

On the other hand, a brief skim of Dance India Dance videos suggests that whatever few female contestants take part, seem to be modestly dressed & not particularly provocative, but I'm certain even that's beyond the pale for all but the most cosmopolitan city dwellers.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:36 PM on January 7, 2012


but I'm certain even that's beyond the pale for all but the most cosmopolitan city dwellers.

Yet its exactly this aspect that's changing - see the Tehelka link.
posted by infini at 11:47 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reality TV has come late to India but gained immense popularity so rapidly that the phenomenon hit global media.

Yeah, Survivor India has just started.
posted by vidur at 1:21 AM on January 8, 2012


« Older Ron Minis' Not-Sober Lullaby....  |  Queen vs. The Beatles - Fat Bo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments