After watching Fair & Lovely Fairness Cream manage a branding coup by sponsoring the Zee Cine Awards and handing out fairness hampers to grinning actresses on international TV on Saturday, I thought nothing I saw on television could be worse. Till I saw the new season of Nach Baliye – Season 8 a day later. The only saving grace? None of the anchors or faux-stars on the show or the show itself, lent themselves to plugging a fairness cream. But that’s a small saving grace. Not that I have very high hopes from a celebrity reality show, that too on Indian TV which seems to take the offensive format and make it even more sensationalist. But Nach Baliye 8 has set a whole new sub-terranean standard for reality shows for 2017.
According to the judges of the show—two of whom have decidedly tenuous connections to dance—Nach Baliye 8 is about “two bodies and one soul”. Or “dance, romance, entertainment”. If you don’t know what the format is, which makes me have a very high opinion of you, here goes. It’s about celebrities who along with their partners, participate in a dance reality show. When it first started, the show had celebrities whom you could recognize. Eight years on, I am left asking—who are these people? Why’re they dancing with each other? Why am I watching this?
Karan Tacker is the anchor. He’s not too tacky. Which is very impressive going by how tacky the rest of the show is.
The star judge is Sonakshi Sinha, who looks stunning. Like a hip Reena Roy. But that doesn’t mean she can dance. That just means she looks attractive. She said she hasn’t come to judge. She’s come to entertain. Which is absurd, since she was introduced as a judge.
Then there’s Terence Lewis, who is a choreographer. But he walked on to the stage not dancing, but emoting as if he’s auditioning—and going to be rejected—for Godfather. Thankfully, other than for his badly rhymed pun—nach ka sach, sach ka nach (the truth of dance, the dance of truth)—he is the only one of the trio qualified to judge a dance show.
Director Mohit Suri is the third judge. Or as Ekta Kapoor put it in an audiovisual, he is “a man’s man, but with a woman’s heart”. Which almost made it seem like he was androgynous. That he had to be introduced by his family—Mahesh Bhatt, Emran Hashmi—and friends—Ekta Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez, Karan Johar—in case no one knows who he is, was a little sad. According to Suri, he’s only come to check whether the pyaar is sachcha or not. Bizarre qualities to judge a dance show on.
Sinha and Suri being dance show judges is like me judging a painting competition because I own a colouring set. Basically, ridiculous.
On to the contestants. The first couple was called #Divek. Or as they said it, “Hashtag Divek”. These are lifegoals for all couples. To be known as a hashtag. Divya and Vivek. Since no one knows who all these people are, they keep having third parties introduce them. Their performance, according to Mohit Suri, was a “cinematic experience” similar to Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan in Dilwale. This explains a lot about Suri’s films.
I recognized comedian Bharti Kher. Which says a lot about me. She’s taking part with her writer and partner, Harsh. Usually there’s a cricketer or a chef or someone from outside the TV world. But this time, it seems the producers haven’t been that resourceful. So, we got a foreigner instead who happens to be dating an Indian actress. There were the usual recycled Bigg Boss contestants, who’ve progressed from what seems to be the launchpad for all reality stars to whatever other reality show comes their way.
Was the dancing spectacular? No. Were the stars recognizable? No. Were the judges entertaining? Well, they made me miss Chetan Bhagat, for once. Which is when I knew that no good can come from watching Indian reality shows. There’s no dance, no romance, no entertainment.
If you still want to watch Nach Baliye 8, you can tune into Star Plus every Saturday and Sunday at 8pm. Or not.