MTV ‘Splitsvilla’ is back with some new experiments in season 10
“I am a charmer. I am here to spread the charm. So beware of it.” These are not the words of a snake charmer to a reptile that is about to be hypnotised. These are the words of a 19-year-old boy declaring why he thinks he will be desirable to a group of very young women, who for some reason want to romance him. There are other wondrous pickup lines as well. A young chap with a waxed chest says, “I can fake emotions. Which I’m sure no one else can.” My favourite though were the words spoken by a young man from Delhi, “I take pride apni bandi pe. Girls take that.” In that one sentence, summing up most Delhi men’s attitude towards women—possessiveness and misplaced cockiness.
This collection of Lotharios was present in the show that is the desi love child of Jersey Shore and The Bachelor. Yes people, Splitsvilla is back and it’s as magnificent as ever. Let’s keep in mind that this is Splitsvilla X (that’s the Roman numeral for 10, which is impressive in itself). If a show has been running for 10 years, it means that whatever we may think of it there’s obviously an audience for it.
This time around, according to Splitsvillla’s permanent host Rannvijay Singh (who is proof of the fact that MTV is as good an employee as Tata or ITC, since you can work there from the age of 23 to 65), the show has a question, “Is there any science to love?” And there’re many experiments of love to find out. It’s all very cerebral.
The experiments are the creatively named “Pyaar Ka Ras”, where contestants will pass pieces of fruit to each other by holding the fruit in their mouths. The next is “Kiss Kiss Ko”, where a male contestant will stand bare-chested while multiple female contestants kiss his bare chest and leave lipstick marks on it. Then there’s “BDSM–Bhigoke Dhoke Sukhake Maro”, where female contestants will wet a hanky, wring it dry and then smack the boys’ bare backs with it. And finally—if you haven’t passed out from the sure tawdriness of it all—there is “Ring A Ding Dong”, which had the boys standing with their legs apart while the girls use large poles to ring a bell from between the boy’s leg.
I want to take a moment to appreciate the genius creative producer who came up with these “scientific experiments”. There is also an—wait for it—oracle, which looked like a large light under a dome which will announce results and decide which two contestants should end up together. Again, let us take a moment to appreciate that someone at MTV India knew the word “oracle”, even if they didn’t really understand what it was.
What’s worrying is the number of youngsters and millennials, who seem to have flocked to MTV to take part in this show. The ages range from 19 to 28. There are young women who have come from Australia, a Miss India Australia—who by her own admission is the perfect blend of beauty and intelligence. Another one from Mumbai said she was cute, classy and elegant, bold and strong. There’s a girl from Lucknow, another from Kolkata. They all seem fairly bright and presentable and some are extremely attractive. And they have decided to find their fortunes on Splitsvilla, for some reason.
And, of course, there is Sunny Leone, who has become the co-host of Splitsvilla for the past few seasons. Leone entered the set, while Farida Khanum’s Aaj Jaane Ke Zid Na Karo played. My apologies to Khanum. I have to say, every time I see Leone I get more impressed by how she’s managed a total makeover of her image. The contestants were shrieking with joy at seeing her, she looked elegant and stunning, and is totally at ease playing the host.
The first experiment we saw was The 7-second Rule. The girls sat with boards where they could swipe right or left. And they’d see the boys dressed in nothing but shorts for 7 seconds and would have to accept or reject them. I keep thinking if these kids focused as much on their studies or even developing a skill—such as acting or a sport—they’d be highly successful. The way they analysed why they swiped right on someone or not, was quite impressive. Someone was too tall, someone was too fair, someone was too sweet. There was a restaurateur. And it broke my heart to see a state-level basketball player, as a contestant. But my favourite was a 28-year-old rapper from Delhi wearing a trench coat with a fur collar who rapped the following ditty:
Collaboration of a new kind
Words spoken in a new design
Let the king talk to you like a daddy
It’s the one and only, Rapper Maddy
Oh Delhi. Are these really the slim pickings the women of Delhi have to choose from?
The girls then went on group dates with the boys they’d selected. Dates which were so dull and boring that I had to drink gallons of coffee to stay awake. The only virtue in this programme is that the girls and boys are on an even objectification playing field. The boys are ogled at as much as the girls are. But equal objectification and equal vacuity are hardly pinnacles of virtue.
What is worrying is that this seems to be a viable career option for people who seem have had the opportunity of education and seem to be monetarily comfortable. They are choosing to take part in this show—and seem to be enjoying themselves while doing so. Of course, many of them may want to be MTV veejays. But to have to repeatedly kiss sweaty strangers on their waxed chests and backs as a ticket to employment seems way beyond the call of duty.
The kids are not alright. And MTV Splitsvilla is testament to this.
If you’d like to see why strict parenting is important, tune into MTV at 8pm on Sundays to watch Splitsvilla.