From Flavor Flav to Sherlyn Chopra, and now Sunny Leone, Splitsvilla gets a makeover

April 14, 2014

Dating reality show continues run in India.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: Sunny Leone, the Indo-Canadian porn star turned Bollywood actress, will become the new host of the MTV reality show, “Splitsvilla.”

Sunny Leone (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Sunny Leone (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Leone will take over for current host Sherlyn Chopra on the show’s seventh season, which is set to debut later this year. The show is about a group of young men and women who compete against each other for a spot in “the Villa,” a place where they congregate, get to know each other, and (hopefully) find true love. At the end of each season, the last boy and girl standing are the winners, become a couple, and presumably live happily ever after.

The show is an adaptation of the American show, “Flavor of Love,” which also airs on MTV in the US. The show is one of MTV’s highest-rated shows, and is hosted by former hip-hop star Flavor Flav, whose name the title is derived from.

The Indian version has come under criticism in the past. After the second season, one contestant alleged that the show was rigged, and that sexual favors were being done by some contestants for producers and others involved with the show in order to increase their chances of winning. Also in the second season, one contestant said that another Nepali contestant had “chinky” eyes, prompting an outcry from India’s north-eastern community.

Leone’s hosting the reality show is not entirely unprecedented for Indian television, as the last decade as seen a number of much bigger Bollywood stars come to television under multi-crore deals. Salman Khan currently rakes in big money as the host of Bigg Boss, while both Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan made nice sums of money during their stints as the host of Kaun Banega Crorepati? (“Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”).

In the US, film stars usually only appear on reality television once their active movie careers have faded into obscurity. Shows like “Dancing With the Stars” (which also has an Indian version, “Jhalak Dikhlaja”) feature actors and athletes who are either retired or haven’t had a hit in years, while awards shows are generally hosted by successful actors as just a one-off deal.

For example, Drew Carrey currently hosts “The Price is Right” on CBS, nearly a decade after his own show, “The Drew Carrey Show,” went off the air and his other reality TV show, “Whose Line is it Anyway?” was cancelled, too.

Several Hollywood actors have migrated to television, but to act in dramatic roles, not to host reality television. Academy Award-winners like Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacy have made a splash on television shows like HBO’s “True Detective” and Netflix’s “House of Cards.”

A release date for the new season of “Splitsvilla” has not yet been announced. Leone can currently be seen in the film Ragini MMS 2, which has become a big box office hit in spite of mediocre reviews.

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