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Reality bites after reel success: TV stars struggle in real life

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 5: Winners and finalists of national reality shows from the state have learnt the hard way that reel success doesn’t guarantee a flying career in real life.

Artistes from the state have been remarkably successful on national television reality shows making a name for themselves and for the state over the past few years.

From trendsetters Prince Dance Group of Berhampur to the 12-year-old M. Sumanth from Bhubaneswar, the state has produced many winners and finalists in these shows.

However, the struggle for these artistes have not ended after their 60 seconds of fame on national television. Once the show is over, they are sought after mostly within the boundaries of the state. More often than not, the national audience forgets them.

A major reason for the dip in fame of dance reality show winners is probably the contracts they are made to sign by the respective television channels which do not let them either to take part in other reality shows for a specific time or forbid the artistes to perform new compositions for a couple of years.

Yet, the winners are happy with the short-lived fame they earn because it gives them recognition back home and also increases their bank account to some extent.

“When we were in the finals of India’s Got Talent, even chief minister Naveen Patnaik appealed to viewers to vote for us. That meant a lot to our troupe. Till then, we struggled to make ends meet because most of us were daily labourers. But now, our struggle is in the world of dance. We definitely have a much better life now and get chances to perform within and outside the state,” said Krishna, the lead dancer of Prince Dance Group that won India’s Got Talent in 2009.

“At present, we may not have the same national fame that we enjoyed during the show. But once the four-year contract ends with the TV channel that does not let us take part in any other reality show, we will be back on television next year,” he said.

For Mandakini Jena, who had tried her luck at Boogie Woogie where she was runners up, the moment of recognition came with Dance India Dance. She might have been eliminated after reaching the final six but by then the accolades that she earned from celebrated choreographers such as Terrence Lewis had gone viral. She also won the ‘most flexible body’ title. Life after the reality shows changed for the better, she feels.

“My two-year contract with a TV channel took me to different parts of the world. My dance school M Zone, which recently completed four years, now has 250-odd students. The reality show taught me how to train others and groomed my personality immensely. Meanwhile, the contemporary dance scenario has undergone a sea change. Earlier, I had hardly any shows, today there are plenty of them,” said the dancer, whose monthly income has increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 40,000. Jena also judges the eastern zone of Dance India Dance and pushes her students to bring laurels for in the state in such shows.

When it comes to singing, the challenges are different. Singing talent Sohini Mishra, who was doing playback singing and pursuing her MSc Biotech, got bit of fame in India Idol 6 where she made it to the top six.

After her return to Odisha, both chief minister and the governor felicitated her. Offers for stage programmes in the state are raining but she confesses that no significant offer from Bollywood has come her way.

She believes that the market is already saturated with aspiring playback singers.

While dancer Harihar Dash, a finalist from India’s Got Talent, is now performing for an international troupe, Dance India Dance winner Rajasmita Kar is busy performing for local shows and some outside the state.

Reality show judge on a local television channel and well-known dancer Saswat Joshi, who is Rajasmita’s current trainer, feels reality shows do provide a platform but an artiste must plan beyond the show.

“Once an artiste is done with the show and has attained some financial support as well as fame, he must now groom himself better and under the best tutelage available to excel as a dancer or singer. But the contract of the TV channels that bind them to keep performing at events or restrain them from performing something new for a few years, is harmful,” he said.