The Indian MTV reality dating show Splitsvilla gives a quite different outlook on Indian sexuality than the one offered by most of the Western media.
Also published by Concrete on February 14th 2011.
There are usually two categories for Western stories on sexuality related topics in India. One is the ‘Bollywood Box’, filled with head wiggling sing-a-long love dramas. The other one is fourteen-year old girls that are married off to older men. Since 2008 MTV has put a different picture in the mix in form of the reality dating show ‘Splitsvilla’.
Splitsvilla was first aired in 2008 and finished its fourth season in 2011. Season five is supposed to start soon. Splitsvilla follows a similar pattern to other reality dating show, such as The Bachelor. Take thirteen Indian girls looking like Barbie dolls and a few men that bear a striking resemblance to the guy from the Davidoff commercial, put them in a villa in Dubai and you have Season four of Splitsvilla.
After several episodes of “let’s see which girl dresses the hottest!”, cat fights and elimination rounds the finalists are crowned Splitsvilla king and queen. The show ends with the happy couple showing the audience just how delighted they are to finally watch the sunset on a dune in the desert together.
As with most reality shows, racist remarks by contestants and other scandals have added controversy to the discussion about the Splitsvilla. Whereas some comments in online forums portray programmes like Splitsvilla as a bad American impact on Indian culture, other netizens such as “dreamzsiva” argue that the show is simply meeting the demand of a mass audience that likes a “spice laden sleaze fest like Splitsvilla better than other classy serials”.
Whether one sees Splitsvilla as a mirror of an elite of young affluent Indian urbanites who are about as deep as their lip-gloss; as US media imperialism or simply a costly produced entertainment show. Splitsvilla definitely shows that there is more to dating in Delhi than a repressed sexuality and a hip swinging Sharukh Khan.