The Bachelorette is here, with Hookah Bar, roses and Mallika

Rajyasree Sen

Oct 08, 2013 09:06:11 IST

I for one couldn’t be happier that The Bachelorette has come to India. Not because I like rubbish television – which I do – but for another reason. This is a programme which shows a female celebrity choosing a groom for herself out of a group of candidates (suspect ones undoubtedly, but let’s save that for later). The contenders for the bachelorette’s hand in marriage are men from all ages and communities. Some are even divorced. Others are divorced with children. Some are foreigners. The bachelorette — who herself is a divorcee — will not only handpick who she wants to marry, but will do so after spending time with these men, unchaperoned time that is (if you can ignore the camera crews on set). She will then choose her groom irrespective of whether his stars are matched to hers and irrespective of whether she is of the same caste or class as him.

What could be better for a country like India, where women are hacked to death, ostracised, burnt and tortured for daring to want to marry a man not chosen for them by their parents? For simply exercising their right to choose. In a country where, if you become a widow or a divorcee, you are immediately treated as second-hand goods as if your life has come to an end. And you can forget about marrying anyone ever again. For me, this is what should make us forget all that is wrong with The Bachelorette, which is mainly Mallika Sherawat, and before her Rakhi Sawant and Ratan Rajput in the unofficial rip-offs of the show. I’m not even going to mention Rahul Mahajan.

We’ve had years of unofficial rip-offs of The Bachelorette and The Bachelor – the desi versions pretty much assured Indian men that not only was it okay to beat up women, if you were rich and born of Pramod Mahajan’s loins, you could hold a swayamvar and choose your next domestic abuse victim. And she would also fall in line. So leaving Mahajan aside, it’s nice to see an official spin-off of a very successful, and dodgy, programme from the land of milk and honey. We of course were spared Veena Malik’s swayamvar, but never say never.

 The Bachelorette is here, with Hookah Bar, roses and Mallika

Mallika Sherawat in this file photo. Image from IBN-Live

The Bachelorette in India features Mallika Sherawat as the desirable and bashful bride to be. Yes, yes, I know that’s a stretch for anyone’s imagination, but this is not a programme steeped in reality even if it is a reality programme. Sherawat makes her entry on a scooter with M emblazoned on it and the programme is sponsored by Lux Inferno, which if you didn’t know, is a brand of thermal underwear. Only fitting to have something which warms your privates as the sponsor of this show.

Every season – unofficial and official – has a friend or host along with the bashful bride. In Rakhi Sawant’s case it was Ram Kapoor and in Mallika Sherawat’s case, it is Rohit Roy (whom I think Sherawat fancies more than she does her prospective grooms, so you never know that union might be the twist in the tale by the end of the programme). Keeping to format, the first episode has the bride standing in a beautiful location – for Bachelorette India, it’s Fatehgar. Here, she meets the candidates, each of whom is carrying a gift for her.

So who are these worthy contenders for Mallika’s suddenly covered-up heart?

There’s a man who walks in with a laptop which has on it a video message from his seemingly adult son, asking Mallika to choose his father. There’s a 62-year old gray haired man, who is a divorcee and has two daughters, one of whom is 6 yrs younger than Mallika. Then there are two friends, one of whom gifts her what looked like a transparent black negligee (she seemed quite glee-struck by it). There’s a chap wearing a kurta made of pink sequined cloth, who has a way with words and says, “Har bande ke feeling hai yahan pe, yaar”.

There’s also a musician, who sings her a song and then hugs her. But Mallika wasn’t amused. But what was less amusing was that after being seemingly miffed at him and delivering a lecture about him not knowing his boundaries and walking off when he sat next to her, she chose him as one of the final candidates for the next round. Maybe the makers of Raanjhanaa and Besharam weren’t so far off the mark when they promoted stalking as a way of wooing a woman. I thought they’d end that segment with the musician singing, “Na na karte, pyaar mujhi se kar baithey”. But what do I know?

There’s Manu who looks like Hans Raj Hans and is a real estate agent from Jodhpur. Karan, a restaurateur from London, is really the best of the lot. Constantine, the blonde haired foreigner from Mumbai, is there because we’re all about equal opportunity in this country All the candidates, sans a couple, look like extras from Welcome or Golmaal. They even spout lines like “Sab flirt maar rahe hai yahan pe” and “Hum sab lok yahaan pe pyaar karne aaye hai, jhagda nahin karenge”. And these sentences are matched by Mallika saying, “Aap mere emotions ke saath khel rahe ho.

Just tugs at the heart strings.

Once the introductions were over, there was a “hanging out” session. One in which all the men danced to Himesh Reshammiya’s ‘Tera Pyar Pyar Pyar, Hookah Bar’ and drank lots of multicoloured mocktails to prepare themselves for the Rose Ceremony, in which Mallika would choose her favourites. But only after spending quality time with them so they could woo her.

And how did they do that? One told her how he bunked classes for a year to stand outside his girlfriend’s class. Mallika then explains how this means he respects women – screw education, who needs that? – and therefore must be the beneficiary of a rose. I told you, it’s a good concept buggered over thanks to the celebrities they’ve chosen to feature in it. Another delusional person says she has “royal grace” just like her name. He got a rose too.

After the rose round, there was the elimination round, which Sudarshanji, the 62-year old man cleared because he gave her 3 books. Imagine that.

I couldn’t seem to get Mallika Sherawat’s turn as an icchadhaari nagin out of my mind while watching the programme though. I expected her to suddenly start molting or eating up one of the candidates. But there was no such fun to be had. If you can get past Sherawat and the fact that we all know she won’t marry any of the candidates finally, watch the show.

Tell people to watch it. Expand your horizons and forget your prejudices while you wish the producers of such shows would just once, choose slightly more impressive celebrities to star in these shows. It could actually go a long way in helping matters in India. Till such epiphanies, however, you can watch Sherawat telling a pilot “Teach me takeoff, landing, flying.” If you’re bored of Bigg Boss 7, you now have a new trash show with its heart in the right place to watch.

The Bachelorette India – Mere Khayalon Ke Mallika is telecast on Life Ok from Mon – Fri, 9.30-10.30pm.

Disclaimer: Firstpost is a part of Network 18 Group which also owns the TV channel Colors that competes with Life Ok

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Updated Date: Oct 08, 2013 09:08:57 IST