Although, even in Roadies ,there is scope for career growth—much like in other professions. Take Rannvijay Singh. He was the winner of the first Roadie in 2004, in 2005 he became the host. Ever since, he has hosted the show. Now in 2016, he has become part of the group of four “judges" who conduct the Roadies audition and will lead one of the four participating teams of Roadies. This is known as Service Till Death. Rannvijay will most probably get gratuity and Employees’ Provident Fund when he retires from Roadies at the age of 65.
Rannvijay’s co-judges are actress Neha Dhupia, TV actor Karan Kundra and—I weep while writing this—wrestler Sushil Kumar, who I think weeps after every shoot. That a national athlete and Olympic winner has to be on the Roadies, looking even more horrified than me by what today’s youth are willing to say and do to be on national TV is heart-wrenching. But a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. I’m sure MTV has thrown a lot of money at Kumar for him to agree, at least I hope so. And in his defence, he pretty much maintains a stoic silence through the proceedings and swings between looking bemused and petrified.
The last three episodes of Roadies have been the auditions, where different Roadie aspirants fill up an application form and then have a group discussion following which they answer questions for the judges. It’s tougher to get into Roadies than into any Indian Institute of Management. The judges then decide whether or not to choose them for their teams. The application form is a work of great genius, which would make Carl Jung proud. The questions range from:
Relationship? If yes, how many?
Craziest thing you’ve done? (If you have to think twice about this, go home.)
If you have a guarantee that you won’t get caught, would you cheat on your gf/bf?
Have you ever hit a girl? Explain why.
Kind of person you wouldn’t marry? To which someone answered “Ugly and senseless."
What would you rather use—fairness cream or sun tan?
Is there anything that has occurred in your life that you’re running away from?
If you and your best friend fall in love with the same person, you would…?
One thing you dislike about India/being Indian?
Would you sleep with your boss if it was the quickest way to get promoted?
What are the two wildest things that you have done? One contestant answered: “Ate pubic hair and drank urine."
What was the most difficult situation in your life? The same contestant answered, “Giving myself a self-orgasm."
The questions should give you an idea that the lowest common denominator is being addressed over here. Why would any sensible person answer these questions on national TV, that too for a chance to be on Roadies? Why? Then you meet the contestants and you rue the fate of the country. That these youngsters will tomorrow procreate and make more of their kind, and head organisations and political parties.
One of the contestants is Mahamedhaa. As she proclaimed, she is the former vice-president of Miranda House and an active member of the ABVP. Which is why she now wants to be a Roadie. De taali. But like most right-wingers who you meet in person, she immediately distanced herself from the policies of ABVP, saying she doesn’t support all their policies but does represent their ideologies. Makes sense? No? I don’t think it’s supposed to. She seemed inordinately thrilled that her picture had appeared at various dharnas—sitting right next to the 16 December rape victim’s unsuspecting mother—and rallies. At least our politicians’ love for publicity is consistent across ages. Mahamedhaa led Neha Dhupia to reference Malala and Rannvijay to make two quotable quotes—“Revolutions don’t happen overnight", and “Justice shall be served. Serve it." The judges also give morality, political and social science lectures such as “don’t hit women", “when an older person speaks to you, listen to them with respect". It’s a lot to digest on a Saturday night.
There were two participants who seemed normal. Bharti from Sonarpur, Noida, who is full of beans and dresses like a boy. She chose to be on Sushil Kumar’s team. And a very well-mannered young man called Rubal who is with the Delhi Police and wants to change the image of the police. Just as you thought that maybe the youngsters aren’t such sad sacks, there was “Vikas da Psycho" whose actual name is Vikas Chandel. His work experience was—being a gigolo. He had written in his form that he hits his sister when she behaves immorally and also wrote that “agar ladki chhotein kapre pehn ke ghoomti hai, toh usko chhedenge" (if a girl wears small clothes and roams around, then he will harass her). A girl called Anseela said she’d been molested, had been “enforced" to do drugs, had family issues and went to a shitty school. So she got chosen to be part of Roadies. Then there was the girl who was the president of her college in Delhi University and who said Manchester and Barcelona are countries and that Russia is in Europe and is Asia’s capital. She also said Nepal’s capital is Bhutan. She was, of course, chosen.
I was just imagining the conversation in each of the cars with the four judges and their teams. The combined IQ in the car would be in double digits at best. What is worrying was the throngs of people waiting since 4am to enter the audition premises over four days. Almost all the Chandigarh applicants think of Honey Singh as a role model and keep rapping their responses to the camera—but don’t have his talent or music sense. One of them rapped—“Roadies mera swag hai, bhaari mera bag hai" (Roadies is my swag, heavy is my bag).
Which was when I went and lay down in front of my car and asked the driver to drive over me and put me out of my misery.
You can watch RoadiesX4 every Saturday at 7pm.