A recent lawsuit reveals how much the item girl got paid to get married, says Samrat Chakrabarti
IN JULY last year, we-the-television-republic, were made witness to a new avatar of Rakhi Sawant. As a creature who, having scaled the heights of professional competence, stood among the shards of glass ceilings and found a curious absence in her life — that of a man. She was, she assured viewers, just a girl waiting for a boy to understand her for what she really is — a woman who needed to be looked after. Over the weeks that followed, we all watched as Rakhi ruthlessly parodied every artifice of the big wedding — the bowed head, modesty, the mother-in-law trouble, the weird suitors. Memorably, she slapped a contestant who enquired if she was a virgin. But the biggest artifice we were meant to believe in was her indecision. Will she? Won’t she? A year later, an obscure intellectual property rights case has brought to our greedy gaze a minor truth — a round figure that ensured there was no indecision.
Of course, you knew that Rakhi Ka Swayamvar was going to make money for all parties concerned — the channel NDTV Imagine, the sponsors and Rakhi. Of course, you knew that everyone in a reality show makes money. But it is almost unheard of to get your hands on the exact figure. But when a lawsuit was brought against NDTV Imagine, alleging that the channel stole the idea for the show from a pre-existing website, it also brought to surface Rakhi’s contract with the channel.
As ‘prenuptial’ agreements go, the contract makes delightful reading. “The Artist has indicated to the company… that the Artist desires to get married and whereas the Artist considers television as the best medium to find a suitable match for herself.” At another point, just in case anyone had any doubts about Rakhi’s indecision the contract says, “The Artist agrees, represents and warrants that the Artist shall legally and lawfully marry the winner of the Program.” And oh yes, the contract spells out the money she was paid for the show. A juicy Rs. 80 lakh, parted with in five instalments.
Now if one could only get one’s hands on the contract signed by Elesh Parujanwala, the last man standing. Rejected a few months after the show and now in the ignominy of a disappeared limelight, hopefully he too was suitably compensated for his trouble.
Photo: Deepak Salvi