Aug 9, 2008

Fun - Television Viewing

I’m still trying to catch my breath. I watched the opening of the Beijing Olympics (DD Sports) and was blown away. The sheer scale of the show, the spectacular mix of culture and technology was truly jaw-dropping. I wish DD’s commentators had kept quiet more often and allowed us to just enjoy the spectacle. But they insisted on talking pretty much non-stop (“This shows the harmony of man and nature… The little girl is holding a kite, we also fly kites in India, in fact, with our Independence Day coming up, there’s going to be a lot of kite-flying…” etc etc).

My latest attempt at catching a new soap (it’s no longer very new but it’s newer than Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi) was something called Kis Desh Mein Hai Mera Dil (Star Plus). The name itself gave me the beginnings of a headache, but I persisted bravely. I seem to have caught a particularly dramatic episode where the cameraman, perhaps inspired by all that high drama, had decided to be very innovative. So instead of the standard zoom in-zoom out, the camera kept revolving around the scene of action. It went round and round, again and again, and the net result (once again): an acute attack of dizziness. Meanwhile, the actual action involved a patriarch-type gentleman shouting at a younger woman while all the other members of the family stood around like statues (they were also in a neat circle formation). But the moment the old gent yelled, “Tum aurat ke naam pe kalank ho!” (You are a blot on the face of womanhood) and slapped the younger woman, I hastily switched channels. There’s only this much I can take.

I’m not a fan of the new fad of ‘mean TV’ — basically programming where everyone is nasty to each other for no particular reason. There is a school of thought which believes that cruelty makes for great TV. Maybe that’s true for some viewers — there’s no accounting for people’s taste, is there — but personally, I find it revolting.

However, it’s hard to take something like Dadagiri seriously. This is television’s self-proclaimed “meanest game show” and it airs on a youth channel (Bindass). But more than the youth, the programme seems to be earnestly courting viewers with an IQ of minus zero. This is the deal: some poor misguided young men and women come to the studio to be bullied by three weirdos. One of the bullies kicks open the door in the manner of a Gestapo agent and lumbers into the studio. He then orders one of the contestants to lift a pair of dumbbells ten times and when he can’t, gives him a roll of toilet paper instead. He keeps talking, but you can’t follow much because it’s mostly expletives and they’re all beeped out. The couple of lines you can make out go something like this: “Style maar raha hai beep? Kya samajhta hai apne aap ko beep?”

The Gestapo type gives way to a fellow with spectacles who conducts a GK quiz. Every time a participant answers a question, he has to simultaneously pick up an egg and break it over his own head. The quizmaster offers his own share of abuse. Eventually, some poor sod loses, has to eat food kept inside a WC as a punishment and declares to us morosely, “I feel like such a loser.” True. Only a loser would agree to participate in a show like this.

And finally. I saw Zara Nachke Dikha on Star One with Malaika Arora and Chunky Pandey as the judges and while there was nothing wrong with the show, I have a question: just how many more times can we see men, women and children dancing, listen to the judges offering their expert opinions and watch the inevitable tears and tension and wardrobe malfunctions and…

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