Some of you might know of this that I am right now on a holiday back home. Home means apna des, India. Specifically for me, it is Silchar, Assam, where the grass is still green and not quite polluted by the carbon monoxide in the air, and the roads are not so pretty. Vacation means feasting on the various dishes that I have been deprived of since my last visit (which was last year), sleeping at odd hours, meeting relatives, names of whom I don’t remember or I just don’t care to do so, and finally watching shitty television.
The state of the Indian television has declined drastically over the last few years, and I don’t feel any sort of apprehension in declaring that it needs a radical change in the form of entertainment that is being produced to cater to audiences. While Indian cinema has grown by leaps and bounds in producing not only popcorn and candyfloss entertainers (even though most have the same recycled storylines), but also independent and original storylines, Indian television seems to be stuck in the bottom of a black hole whose gravity has sucked out all its creativity, and all that is left is the cud for all its viewers to chew on and on. Let me bring to your attention these points.
1. Soaps and Serials (Culprits – Star Plus, Colors, Zee TV)
My mother is an active participant of a fanclub spanning across the nation’s millions of households, where the lady has the control over the remote, and the remote is set to these no-brainer series which seem like an extended version of Hum Aapke Hai Kaun, spiced up with elements of eersha, shadyantra, maryada, rishtey and parampara, with an overdose of hamming up which would even make Suraj Barjatya go – Nahiiiiiiiiii. All of this began with the rise of the Virani family (Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi aka KSBKBT), which has spread its wings and spawned its millions of clones across channels, in various vernacular flavours. With KSBKBT, the format of the Mon-Thu run of soaps became the standard fare, and that meant – snail-paced plots and dialogues written to expand through emotions and predicaments of even the ‘maali’ of the house ( the gardener), who actually happens to be the illegitimate father of the only son of the family. With more facepalm moments than ever imaginable, these soaps and serials have one thing in common – the occurrence of a thunderous sound pause and a close-up shot moment for every pivotal character to ponder upon his/her paap in the past. There is only one reason why these soaps and serials continue to be made – to torture the future generation of this country and for people like me to keep ridiculing them. And btw, has COLORS bought the movie Dabangg on a long term contract, so that they can broadcast it every Sunday?
2. Hindi News (Click the pic above for the News video)
It is ok for tabloid channels like Zoom to discuss at length about the linkups, breakups and party fashion of celebrities and starlets who hardly appear onscreen otherwise. But when proper news channels of the likes of IBN7, Zee News and Aaj Tak focus on tabloid journalism to take a major chunk of their one hour news bulletin, you know its time to change the channel, or even better – switch off the telly. e.g. A regular evening bulletin on Aaj Tak was headlined – Ranbir Ne Maangi Maafi, Diya Apne Linkups ki Safaai ( Ranbir apologised, and gave explanation about his linkups). The question was raised by this Aaj Tak reporter at a launch event of Panasonic TV endorsed by Ranbir Kapoor and Diya Mirza. The reporter jumped over the microphone to ask this question, and Ranbir said – I am very sorry, I feel bad that everywhere I get linked up with anyone. Please do not do so. The reporter shows a smug smile, and takes pride that he succeeded in his mission. And I feel sorry for the state of Indian news to have considered this as a real story. To all the dudes running News channels, we don’t need this shit. We don’t need to know who farted where and who is having dinner with whom and where. I also feel sorry for myself to have watched it, and now I feel sorry to have written about it. Damn!
3. MTV (Roadies, well there’s nothing else left of MTV)
There was a time when MTV meant Music Television. I don’t think that definition holds good anymore. With episodes of Roadies on air 24/7, the only other thing that airs on MTV are the teaser trailers of forthcoming releases. And besides Roadies, there is that other show – Roadies Making, and the other show where the voted out roadie and Raghu give some bol bachan on life and shit. Frankly, who gives a rat’s ass anymore. The only interesting thing about the Roadies are the auditions because like them, or hate them, the twins – Raghu and Rajeev, have a good way of testing people. But that is all. The creative team of MTV hit the jackpot with Roadies, and just like the plague on its international avatar – Jersey Shore, Roadies seems like will keep haunting us for a few more years.
4. HBO, Star Movies, AXN, Star World
When the fuck are these channels arriving in HD? And what the fuck is the deal with those annoying subtitles. There should be an option with DTH systems to be able to disable those annoying texts. That’s all.
The only saving grace, and the only reason why I can bear staring at the TV screen these days is because in between the breaks of the stupid serials on COLORS, my mother allows me and my dad to switch to Max to watch the IPL. Twenty-Twenty is a lovely format for cricket, and although I couldn’t care less who wins and who loses, every time I see the ball being hit for a six, it feels good.
The only shows that I think are watchable are –
Star Plus – Comedy Ka Maha Mukabla
Zee TV – Dance India Dance
Other little things I noticed –
a. Star One has a series on Vampires, inspired by Twilight/ Buffy . Dunno, never tried watching them.
b. CID on Sony is still going strong. Daya and Inspector Pradyumna are still together (like in a crime fighting way).
c. Nobody watches Sahara One, SAB TV ( not even Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashma), Star Utsav, NDTV Imagine etc.
d. There is a Bhojpuri version of KBC about to start on Mahua Channel (not kidding), and it possibly is going to feature Ravi Kishan on the quizmaster’s chair (speculation).
e. There are more Bengali channels than I can count. Star Jalsha has TV serials which look and feel like Balaji serials set in Kolkata, with characters speaking slow motion Bengali, occasionally paused by their inner thoughts and a drum beat of passion.
f. India TV was banned by cable operators in Silchar, due to complaints from customers about obscene content ( from a respectable source). India TV is available on DTH.
g. Thankfully, there’s no Rakhi Sawant on TV for now.
Concluding this post, I want to state that I am still annoyed with these serials featuring lead old ladies speaking with a fake Haryanvi / Rajasthani accent, their joint families living in palatial fortresses, and women in the families having nothing better to do than spy on each other and literally contest for the attention of the same man – that man, speaks in idioms and phrases and sleeps and wakes up with a tilak. How do I know so much ? Because I am subjected to this torture of watching these serials by my mother. Is that what Parampara is all about? Shame on you TV studios and serial makers.