But, what is it that makes this brash girl a brand that a channel, which was launched with “Ramayan”, is now depending on for revival? What is so special about her that around 15,000 males applied to be her groom, or for that matter, what hooked media houses from across the country to her late night press conference on a desolate hill in Udaipur? “See, you may not like her, but the show’s concept evokes curiosity. People want to know whether the so-called item girl will really get married on a television show,” says Nitin Madhok, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, NDTV Imagine.
Perhaps that is the reason the channel is keeping the affair short and sweet. “It will be over in four weeks’ time. We don’t want to stretch it, and the sanctity of the institution of marriage will be maintained,” Nitin assures us.
The market has responded. Fem (from the supposedly family brand Dabur), known for its bleaches, is sponsoring the show. Does Rakhi match the product profile? “The brand might not use Rakhi as a brand ambassador for its product but for the show its target consumer is matching ours — 15 to 35-year-olds — common girls who aspire to be married in a swayamvar,” adds Nitin.
Still, her image doesn’t gel with that of a homely girl waiting to tie the knot. “She has got shock value,” reasons Ram Kapoor, Rakhi’s long-time friend, who is hosting the show. “People may disparage her in public but while switching channels they do stop for a moment if some Rakhi-related news is on air. And, a girl who has seen so much early in her life deserves a chance to get married the way she likes.” Ram agrees that the fact that she is a limited actress helps in making the show even more realistic.
Her straightforward approach is one factor that has been mentioned by all the prospective grooms in their profiles. The 16 come from different backgrounds — from a Crime Branch officer from Jammu and Kashmir to a vastu expert to an NRI from Toronto.
Rakhi is spoilt for choice. And, she admits, “I am confused. They all seem good.” However, a close look reveals more than half-a-dozen of them are aspiring actors or associated with the entertainment industry.
Rakhi has a way to clear the chaff. “The tasks that have been designed to check their compatibility will ensure the exit of those who want to use me as a stepping stone.”
The right choice
Nothing is out of bounds for Rakhi. She smirks at the ancient approach of testing the strength of the groom and says: “Right now, the focus is just on how much the guy earns. There should be a holistic approach.”
Giving it a practical format is clinical psychologist Trupti Jain, who has devised games to form the psychological profiles of the prospective grooms. Analysing Rakhi’s appeal, Jain says: “There are many girls in our society who are forced to make compromises to eke out a living or just survive. Those who don’t have to face those circumstances dub it as weakness, but it is not always the case. She is emerging as a hope for such girls. They feel they can also make it. She has come up from the bottom and says things that many of us feel but don’t dare say.” Jain says her experience with Rakhi tells her she is decisive. “She knows what she wants.”