Reality check

May 10, 2010

KARACHI: Komal Rizvi, a popular singer during the 1990s whose hit single “Baujee” garnered her fans in the sub-continent, is attempting to make a comeback in Pakistan and the reality show charts her efforts.

From serving breakfast to the TV crew in the morning to visiting designers Feeha Jamshed and Hassan Shehryar Yasin and working out with a trainer, the cameras don’t miss a thing. Rizvi’s weight issues dominate most of the episodes, as she steels herself to lose eight to 10 kilogrammes of weight, or argues with her manager. The show - while not as invasive as most reality shows abroad are - is engaging. But because it doesn’t delve in so deep, the show trivialises Rizvi’s process of making a comeback as a musician.

There is a lot of complaining, a lot of big dreams but the discussions about how exactly she’ll go about making a comeback is left off-camera. At a press conference to launch the show, Rizvi said, “As I become part of this reality TV show, I will not focus on success but on people to believe in me. I really need encouragement from all support groups.” While Pakistani TV networks have made a few attempts at producing reality TV shows on the lines of those produced in the UK, they have barely registered on the radar.

In 2009, a reality TV show contestant was killed on location in Thailand for a show that was being produced for Pakistani television by Mindshare and Unilever. The public backlash was enough to scare anyone from the idea. Films like Ed TV and The Truman Show and a plethora of reality shows in the US and India have brought out the best - and the worst - in people and turned them into celebrities overnight.

From Rakhi Sawant attempting to parent a number of children on “Pati, Patni aur Woh” to Heidi Montag’s bizarre transformation into a poster child for plastic surgery on “The Hills”, reality television has changed the way television programming has worked worldwide. But “Komal” isn’t on that level. We recap the show so far...

Episode 1

Opening with a flashback of where she has been during the last few years, Rizvi shares her time with Bollywood and foreign stars including Akshay Kumar, Shilpa Shetty, Aamir Khan, Def Leppard and Sting.

Rizvi’s priority, she says, is to return back to the music scene. “What I am planning to do with my music is to take that hip hop R&B sound and mix it with my Bollywood sound or desi sound and merge and fuse it and come out with what would be the first female Bollywood hip hop or Bollywood R&B tracks.” The episode wraps up with the first challenge, posed by her manager, which is to lose at least 15 lbs in a single month.

Episode 2

Back with a candid discussion and cameras sneaking across her home, Rizvi is trying to be an overachiever with a goal to lose 22 lbs.

She spends her first session with a body fitness expert and later heads off to designer Feeha Jamshed. The girl is later spotted at an exhibition, reuniting with her designer friends.

Episode 3

It is time for Rizvi to go over her diet plan with Yasmin Alam and what lies ahead for her is to start her day with a glass of hot water. All that she is eating, their portions and timings are on the record from now on. She is spending her time practicing music with her teacher and the way she hits all notes explains that the spark has stayed intact with her all these years.

All the happy things wrap up by the end of this episode when Jamie gives her a reality check, which the artist is not willing to accept right away. Abidi tells Rizvi, “The general consensus is that there is a lot riding on this (show) for you.”

Episode 4

With the latest episode, Rizvi shows she can do it... losing about 13 lbs. Her next move is to consult a make-up artist because Rizvi is ‘not a makeup person’.


Published in the Express Tribune, May 11th, 2010.