Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Great Indian Television

I get to do some guilt-free TV watching during the summer, when I have practically nothing else to do. Going outside is not an option, because I still have some unscrewed nuts in my otherwise rickety brain, which tell me that I'll get scorched in the Dubai heat if I step outside. So, in the comfort of my air-conditioned house, lying on my soft bed, I soak myself with some Indian television.

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!


Rambunctious WhipperSnapper said...

Oh, I only watch Star World, Zee Cafe and VH1. That also sparingly, when one of the few shows I watch is on. Most of mny entertainment comes from downloading american and british sitcoms and you tube. :P :P

Neha said...

Oh i've grown up on those american sitcoms...I just wanted to watch something indian...thoroughly disappointed!

Which american shows do u like? Im addicted to Grey's Anatomy, Sex and the city, Desperate Housewives, Will and Grace...etc etc

Rambunctious WhipperSnapper said...

Oh, almost all of em .. :P ..

Boston Legal, Scrubs, Real Time with Bill Maher, Will & G, of course, Friends and Dharma & Greg, everybody Loves Raymond, Fraiser, Two and a Half me .... :P ...

I love the british ones too like Coupling, Keeping up Appearances and My Family ....

And those are just the ones I can think of right now.

Scribblers Inc said...

I was a part of BQC in 1996...even my electrician recognised me, can you beat that!!I miss those days...sigh..nice writeup!!

Scribblers Inc.

P.S.-have you seen India TV??dude thats a blast!!:D

Neha said...

Rambo: Oooh I love Keeping up Appearances!! Thats hilarious! Of the British ones, I like Shameless, Skins..cant think of anymore right now..

Scribbler: Oh cooool!! I really wanted to be a part of BQC..guess i wasnt smart enough :P!

Thankx for the comments guys!

Anonymous said...

Hehe.. I hate them all. We don't get NDTV here. We get those dreaded hindi news channels - Aaj Tak and Sahara Samay.

But I have been watching one daily soap. LOL. Kuchh Is Tarah. It is NOT a saas bahu show. It was very funny when it started. It was more of a comedy. But alas it has not turned into a typical kekta soap. Good thing is, it is ending next week.

I do watch a few shows regularly though - Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai, Kadvi Khatti Meethi, Saibaba, Prithviraj Chauhan, SaReGaMaPa.

Even American shows suck nowadays. They all just copy other successful shows. Grey's Anatomy is good. I cannot stand Will and Grace.. ewww.. glad its over. 24, Lost, CSI are now stale. They repeat same stuff now.

How is life in Dubai.


Rambunctious WhipperSnapper said...

Oh, oh ooh, skins I've just seen those parts which shows Mitch Hewer's err..ummm.. performance. Seems like a nice show. And Shameles has been limited to Jody Latham.
And hollyoaks for Marcus Patric.

Okay, I am so friggin shallow :( ...

Neha said...

Muniiiiiiiiiiir: Always nice to see u back at my blog :)! Life in Dubai is just relaxing as of now..enjoying the asian setup :)! Hehe and Hey! I love Will and Grace! Lost, I "lost" track of after season 3 :p...hungry for new shows now! How're u doing? Howz everything?

Rambo: hahaha...well, I dont blame you. Jody Latham is awesome! And skins, i'd started to watching it but left it at some havent seen much, but i loved what I saw! So will surely resume that! Hehe and dont worry...shallowness is endearing at times :p!

D said...

Apart from the staple on Star World, I'm not much of a TV-person. But there are some kickass shows on Color - a new Indian channel. They have this show on child marriage which is great, another one on pre-Independence India, there's Krishna and Bigg Boss. I also love Discovery Travel & Living!

Neha said...

d: Oh we dont get colours in Dubai, so can't comment on that. Have heard its pretty nice, so must check it out when I go to India. For now, i'm getting my entertainment from movies and blogs :p!

DewdropDream said...

I'm so not a TV person but have managed to catch Scrubs, Gossip Girl, MASH and Ugly Betty online.

I really want to watch Kshitij Yeh Nahin again though. I watchd it when I was very young and although its content was a bit much for my young mind then, I LOVED it. Always been a great fan of Tushar Dalvi.

Don't you have libraries or something nearby to keep you occupied with reading?

Renu said...

U have echoed my sentiments.There is hardly anything to watch on TV. even american TV is also same, once i started watching Bold and beautiful and Santa barbara,but they also stretch them looong and their sensibilities are so different,like I cant imagin in my wildest moments even, a mother having a relationship with prospective son-in-law. They have taken the freedom to anther label completely.
I love watching Full house, eevrything is good about it, then there was--Boy meets the world and Blossoms, sometimes judging Amy

Neha said...

Dewdropdream: I'm becoming a non-tv person too. I was living away from Indian TV for so long, I felt like catching up with some. Only to be disappointed, not going that way again. American shows are fun, but I'm a bit bored of them now. Hehe im sure there are libraries here, but i'm new to the place and still havent gotten around to looking for them. Have a collection of my own that should keep me busy :)!

Renu: Hehe, yeah I agree with u. Even popular shows like Desperate Housewives tend to go over the top lots of times. Oh and I love Full House! Haven't watched it regularly comes at weird times!

Anyway, thanx for the comments people!!

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