Home » Unruly puppets: Producing the urban poor in a Bangladeshi television idol competition

Unruly puppets: Producing the urban poor in a Bangladeshi television idol competition

ABSTRACT

Magic Tin Chakar Taroka (Magic Three-Wheeler Star) or Tin Chaka (Three- Wheeler) is a reality competition to find music talent exclusively from the urban poor of Dhaka city. This programme was shown on Bangladeshi satellite television in 2008. The present article is an ethnographic exploration of the Tin Chaka event which demonstrates how the cultural identity of the urban poor in Dhaka has been performed by the production of ordinary celebrities in the visual media. In doing so, a combination of on-screen and off-screen observations were undertaken for a period of six months which was complemented by semiological interpretation of adverts, jingles and other visual materials. In this article, I argue that, despite its admirable inclusivity and thereby remarkably instant acceptance by the audience, the reason behind the discontinuation of Tin Chaka in following years lies in the inscriptions of the show as a charitable undertaking, an act which has often been performed in the reality television programmes in the name of “democratisation”.

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