Pelli Choopulu: Telugu reality TV show's spin on The Bachelor sets up a sorry swayamwar

Mallik Thatipalli

Oct 02, 2018 20:44:37 IST

“Welcome to the journey of love,” says Pelli Choopulu, in its opening frames. The new Telugu reality TV show follows the template of the hit American series The Bachelor and its umpteen desi spin-offs (including one memorable Swayamvar starring Rahul Mahajan) to present a concept seen — as the anchor shrilly claims — for the “the first time in the history of Telugu television”.

The format is straightforward: one man is wooed by 14 women, all vying to win his hand in some form of televised happily-ever-after-at-least-until-the-cameras-are-trained-on-us.

The bachelor who is the recipient of these bountiful attentions is popular Telugu anchor Pradeep Machiraju (who was found guilty in a case of drunk driving earlier this year). Another popular Telugu TV anchor Suma Kankala hosts Pelli Choopulu.

The year 2018 has been a watershed one for Telugu movies, with fabulous content being seen in films like Mahanati, Sammohanam, Goodachari and C/o Kancherapaalam. Television. However, is contentedly stuck in its time warp. Family dramas that would make Ekta Kapoor proud and horror/fantasy stories (closer to the Ramsays than Romero) form the rock and the hard place audiences of Telugu TV must choose betwixt.

Pelli Choopulu: Telugu reality TV shows spin on The Bachelor sets up a sorry swayamwar

Suma Kankala with Pradeep Machiraju in the first episode of Pelli Choopulu

While that pinnacle of entertainment — Big Boss 2 — ended with a flourish on Sunday, Pelli Choopulu has quickly stepped forward to fill the void. (Just so family WhatsApp groups and ardent YouTuber-s will have enough fodder for discussion and debate over the next couple of months.)

The inaugural episode had Suma and Pradeep dressed in identical shades of blue — in no way meant to reflect the audience’s state of mind after sitting through the entertainment on offer. Our bachelor revealed why he’d opted to find the woman of his dreams on television: because he’d “worked in TV, grown up on TV, and because he cannot meet too many people in the world outside, wants to get married on TV”. Of course. That drunk driving charge must make things tough.

The women then made an appearance — some in horse-drawn carriages, others in cars, on two-wheelers, while one enterprising lady even got to ride in on an elephant. All of the women were articulate, intelligent and presentable, and said they hoped to discover “The Real Pradeep” through the reality show.

The show offers quite a few insights into the minds of Indian millennials. That these women have quit their jobs and some have even moved countries (the UAE and Malaysia, respectively) to be on the show and get a dubious prize in the form of Pradeep, at its conclusion, itself is a revelation.

One contestant compared Pradeep to Lord Buddha, another wanted to touch his dimple, and a third offered 101 reasons for why she loves Pradeep sooo much. They also showered their prospective meal-ticket with gifts including idols, sunglasses, silk dhotis. What they got in return were badly made bouquets. They also got a compliment from the man at the centre of all this fuss — Pradeep — who said he “could feel the love”. Happy smiles and garish clothes abounded.

Pradeep may be popular, but he’s not what any right thinking soul would describe as “the most eligible bachelor” — as the show desperately wants us to believe he is. Still, the women seem to (or pretend to) buy it, which makes their investment in a task where Pradeep must present one of them a “Lab Dab” locket to the contestant he most connected with, confounding.

Dina from Dubai is the lucky gal, which triggers a wave of snarky comments from the ladies who were overlooked. To overcome this wailing and gnashing of teeth, a second “Lab Dab” locket is introduced into the proceedings. This time, Gyaneshwari — who “sees herself in Pradeep” — is the winner.

A round of energetic — and incomprehensible — dancing followed. One can expect a lot more of this over the coming weeks — and in general, behavior that shows avakai and gongura loving people in the dimmest possible light.

Updated Date: Oct 02, 2018 22:52:58 IST

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