Alas, yes people do say "alas" even now, I am restricted to just 2 or 3 watchable channels. I'm bound to watch NDTV ( the one and only decent news channel), Channel V or MTV India ( for some decent music) and maybe Star World. The rest I usually flip through, and cringe as I go along. The movie channels have decent films on weekends, but weekdays are nothing short of doomed. The entertainment channels are a disgrace as well, but they are not even in the running when it comes to the disaster of the zillion or so news channels. So, an overall bleak picture.
Let me begin with the worst..the oh-so-dreaded news channels. I don't get it, do they want to be laughed at or are they really so brain-drained ( I wanted to use a ruder term, but I'm restraining myself, with difficulty) to realise that their so-called "news" is nothing but a cheap mockery of reporting? Here's an appalling example; A few days back Zee News was showing a story of Abhinav Bindra not having a car to go back to the hotel. The news reader actually sounded hurt and insulted that the gold-medalist had to go back in a taxi. GASP! How hurt Abhinav Bindra must be feeling that there was no car for him! How significant it is that there was no government servant to bend over twice before the athlete and serve him like a faithful slave! GASP GASP GASP! How important it is for me as an individual, that Bindra had to stoop down to take a, hold your breath, taxi ( oh no!) to get back to his hotel! Well, I guess Zee News found this important enough to air for 2 hours, and make Everest out of a pimple. Meanwhile, on the same day, at the same time, common people die in Kashmir, but who wants to know about that, right?
Star News is not much better. There's a vein in my head which pops every time I hear the news being told on this channel. Everything is "breaking news" and all news needs at least 2 hours coverage. Everything is sensationalised and the mere tone of the news reader's voice makes me want to climb into my television and slap the living daylights out of him/her! These people need to be taught that high volume and pitch does not make their news more important, talking rapidly does not make us more hooked on to their rubbish reporting, and background hindi film music does certainly not make the story more involving or touching. It makes me want to laugh, it makes me want to scream and it makes me want to throw my remote on the television. If I ever do that, I'm definitely suing these news channels for instigating violence!
Moving on now, to the entertainment channels. I remember 8 years ago, when the first saas-bahu soaps got really popular, I used to walk past all the apartments in my area, and the only music I heard from every house, was the music of those two soaps, Kyunki... and Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki. Even then, it bothered me to see these soaps with the weepy bahu, the overdressed saas, the dutiful devar, the vamp with the atrocious jewellery, the sidey cousins, the righteous son, the duffer husband, the invisible father in law and the gazillions of other useless characters. But it was alright, the ordeal lasted a mere two hours. Now however, things are absolutely and ludicrously out of hand. Any channel I flip through, I see teary-eyed dressed-up doormats, with their georgette saris, and gaudy jewellery. With headache inducing camera angles and loud background music, laughable storylines and sketchy characters, these soaps all look identical, so much so that I can't tell one from the other without reading the title! Don't even get me started on the reality shows, I promise to write a post dedicated only for those!
There was a time when Indian television came out with genuine gems, with daily or weekly family entertainment, that was well made and not mass produced like some toy in a chinese factory. I miss the days of Dekh Bhai Dekh, Mirza Ghalib, Fauji, Circus, Hum Log, Buniyaad, even as recent as the 90s, I miss watching the first season of Hip Hip Hurray and be able to relate to the lovely school kids, miss the excitement of waking up on sunday morning to watch Bournvita Quiz Contest followed by Sunday Ke Sunday, remember the craze around Mahabharata, I remember watching Barkha Dutt interview Capt. Vikram Batra and hearing the words "yeh dil maange more", I even remember watching and loving Antakshari and Saregama, when music was all these shows were about. Currently, there are only two regular shows that are worthy of watching. One is We The People on NDTV, hosted by Barkha Dutt, debating current issues and the other one is Saregamapa which actually has some loyalty left for music.
Today, I'm just left to riminisce those times of good television, while I flip through scores of mind-numbing junk that we're currently, mercilessly, subjected to watch. Indian Television has finally lived up to its name of The Idiot Box!