#Media Offbeat

[Columns] The Great Indian Television Comedy

It has been a long while now since I’ve been witnessing insanity being performed on television. The modern internet addict is so preoccupied with the computer always, that he barely gets time to glance at his television set. He often tends to forget that he has a television at home. I wonder – does Cartoon Network still air the classic ’90s animations? How often does POGO telecast Mr. Bean? The list of such shows close to my heart has no full stop, yet I manage to watch them over the internet and not the TV, when I am idle. Watching television is just a 10-minute job—a finger on the remote control does the browsing, and the eyes do the ignoring, during these ten minutes.

The Indian television can be distinctly marked with eras. People go along with the flow—and entertainment is the basic entity. It doesn’t matter what kind of entertainment is being presented. I am a child of the 1990s—the decade when India had a tryst with globalization, the decade when Chetan Bhagat was still an engineering aspirant, the decade which was marked by the release of the movie Border, the decade in which neither Uday Chopra nor Abhishek Bachchan had debuted. As time progressed, TV shows categorized themselves as described below:

The Era of एकता में अनेकता (ekta mein anekta—translated as “Ekta in Everything”)
Ever since I became aware of what goes on inside the television set, the one and only name making headlines, was Ekta Kapoor. Her reel dramas took no time turning into real dramas. That time was not far away when the Indian husband had no option but to sit on the floor holding a bucket to catch tears his wife shed. Mihir made a benchmark and Tulsi was busy changing the mindset of each and every housewife. Mothers-in-law were no longer feared and husbands no longer worshipped, and some sense was finally put into celebrating International Women’s Day in India. Wives calling their husbands “Mihir” created confusion in households.

The Mastermind of a Revolution

Along with herself, Ekta Kapoor brought a handful of daily soaps which now forced housewives to clean not more than the TV room, keeping the rest of the house dirty. Housewives instructed their children that their “mother is no less than a working lady”.

She, the sister of Tusshar Kapoor, ruled the world of drama. She had a long reign, but finally her episodes started to die, and eventually died. Women showed great dismay and frustration, as their husbands were now getting breakfast and dinner on time, and their children could now show they had a mother, on Parent-Teacher Meets. Everything came back to normal—women share a different perspective on this.

The Era of The Talent Hunt – प्रतिभा की ख़ोज
Then came the time when finding talented people became the sole way to earn bread for Anu Malik and beads for Bappi Lahiri. Consecutive seasons of Indian Idol,Sa Re Ga Ma Pa etc made them popular among contestants. “If Sony is making a talent show to raise its TRPs, then how can we be behind? Let’s launch a reality show,” said other TV Channels. Thus, the era began.

The laughter show on Star One won millions of hearts, but soon contestants grew up and became big-time perverts. Cracking jokes with double-meaning in laughter shows and calling them family shows, was the height of hypocrisy. Archana Puran Singh’s hysterical laughter on jokes which “go below the waist and end up on the ground” (read vulgar) and don’t even stir my senses, reminds me of the quote “log paiso ke liye kya kya karte hain!”

Then came body-shaking competition—the dance reality shows. Search for the dancing talent—all around the country—asked India to dance forcefully (Dance India Dance). Talent now reminds me of India’s Got Talent, where people from around the country came to display their acts of absurdity.

Rakhi Sawant—a Goddess avatar that rarely takes birth

I am not sure where to place Bigg Boss. All that the house inmates do on the show is no less than a talent that deserves to be shown on India’s Got Talent instead. Each man, woman (I mean man, woman, et cetera) who comes here is endowed with the most stupendous traits, and each person who is even eager to spend time watching the show is a talented person in his own class.

India’s #1—as it claims—youth channel—MTV, every few months, launches “new remakes of old shows” like MTV Roadies and Splitsvilla. Auditions wrapped with swearwords—no, not the choti choti gaaliyan; moti moti gaaliyan get in handy and lately are also going trendy. Can I call it a talent show? Well, okay, I put it in this set of shows after much confusion.

Something similar with another low picture-quality channel—UTV Bindass. They also claim themselves to be the India’s #1 youth channel and confuse me like hell. Their shows like Dadagiri, Emotional Atyachaar, Date Trap make me puke, and their hosts make my puking a constant process. I can hardly identify whether I am watching a TV show or browsing through an online dating website or using Orkut.

Era of खबर हर कीमत पर (translated as “News, Even If Not News”)

A screenshot self-explanatory

Lately, news channels have resolved to entertain people at हर कीमत. From night news on DD National, to Aaj Tak, to Zee News, to आँखों देखी, to CNN, to CBN, to Star News, to NDTV, to India TV. Did I mention India TV? India TV marked its beginning with a dude whose mother had named him Rajat Sharma—the soul on whose shoulders India is running, hence “India TV”. His news provokes the people. Whether it is a dhongi baba or a Shahid-Priyanka love affair, or Rakhi Sawant’s re-breast silicon surgery, or Ashmit Patel and Veena Malik’s cosy footage—they never let any opportunity go waste. If saying things about destruction could actually bring about destruction, we wouldn’t have been living today, thank you India TV. Defaming is their birthright. They can portray the Indian cricket captain M. S. Dhoni as a “warrior” after he wins a match, and sit on his chest with a sword to cut his throat after he loses. They blow their own trumpets as hard as they can. And since everyone else also does so, why should I waste my energy discussing them so much?

Talking about entertainment on news channel Star News (आपको रखे हर दम आगे—keeps you ahead always, even in stupidity) makes me realise that they are way ahead. Saas, Bahu aur Saazish, a half an hour entertainment traumatic show, which is meant to bring the synopsis of all of Ekta Kapoor’s legacy—i.e., her left-over soaps, which do not form any lather now.

As the Cricket World Cup and IPL are making people bankrupt, people are no more glued to Star or Sony. They are now exposed to a world of cricket and cheerleaders; far different from what people were used to. It’s a monotonous world of a cricket overdose, which strangely doesn’t bore its fans.

Now there is nothing better than cricket (even if boring) to watch on the TV of today, so look at the brighter side of life: now, you are no longer a part of The Great Comedy in Indian TV Shows.

Photos: (a) NTMN visual editor Nipun Chawla, (b) stupidindiatv.blogspot.com

About the author

Prateek Bagri

A blogger who is literally an Anime-Holic. Thinks he's a Humourist. Avid Day Dreaming and Night too are his favorite subjects. Often does and loves Photography. Fiction Lover. Nothing more fascinating than Cosmology to him. Oh! Yes he is an Engineering student too.


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