Recently, I was forced to watch TV. Yes forced. Trying to kill time till the next morning where truckloads of work would fall upon my head. No computer, no internet. Just me and the television. The result : I could not watch even for half an hour.
What has gone wrong with the Indian Television?? The flurry of reality shows which seems more like an orchestrated drama with the common public playing some of its characters and expoiting human emotions, or worse the saas-bahu sagas with endless storylines and so many generation jumps. The other channel shows another reality TV “Big brother”, another shows some talent hunt, the next shows some other. I had to make do with a Discovery Travellers episode I had already seen earlier.
I used to be a big television addict. There were days when Cartoon Network was the one channel that our TV was constantly tuned to. The Centurions, Swat Cats, Dexter ( can anyone forget Omlette episode?), the Real adventures of Johnny Quest, Tintin, Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, Captain Planet,Dumb and dumber, Two Stupid dogs to name a few which were so absorbing and extremely entertaining. Now those are replaced by a string of extremely different and not at all visually charming cartoon shows. The kids are in for Japanese animes and some other weird shows which do not amuse anyone, let alone the children.The other shows too were motivating and interesting watch, making one almost addicted.
Swabhimaan, Hasratein, Saaya, Oshin (a Japanese programme aired on doordarshan which was something i guess everyone was addicted to), Alpviram, Dekh bhai dekh, Ramayan, Udaan, Ghar-Jamai are some of the old serials I remember watching religiously. They were family stuff, extremely enjoyable and time killing. I remember the times when the roads were deserted between nine and ten in the morning on sundays when the nation watched Ramayan together. ( Not to mention the stars became Members of Parliament,which is a different story). What do we have now apart from the K-shows? Numerous dance competitions featuring soap-stars and famous judges vying for bollywood comebacks with painted faces and costumes, not to mention talk-shows which do nothing more than promote a movie at the time of its release, or Rakhi Sawant baring all and asking rude, on-the-face questions to B-grade actors who most willingly blabber shit expecting to rake in the moolah out of the controversies they create . What is Indian television made up of ? Such shallow stuff??
We do not even copy western television well. ‘Are you smarter than a fifth grader’ was aired amidst huge hype and the outcome was equally horrifying with the participants visibly embarassed and a couple of them even losing their jobs for not being able to answer those questions. Perhaps KBC ran the best and no other game-show ever took off like that. Even KBC part 2 failed for that matter. Where are the television series of the caliber of Friends, Boston Legal, House MD, Prison break , 30 Rock ? Why do producers pump in money for such wasteful shows in India which constantly come under the scanner and do nothing except get the rumour mills going and get some conversation in the kitty parties started. Where are the shows which send a message, which genuinely entertain ?
Yes, one might argue that the foreign shows have better budgets and famous actors. But I ask, are we short of money ? The epics produced today on television also resemble nothing but botched up movie stories case in point the newly aired Chatrapati Shivaji which resembles nothing but a movie or the flimsy, filmy take on Mahabharat where Draupadi wore noodle strap blouses and heavy mascara. Every other serial that promises something different ends up being a romantic tale of the lead couple ( case in point : Sanjivani or Kusum) along with jealous ex-lovers and a totally aghast family. Tell me, is this all our small screen today is ?
I turn to MTV and Channel V hoping to atleast catch some bollywood numbers but instead see a series of reality shows there as well. More obscene and perhaps ‘bold’ to suit the Indian youth, these shows are strictly no-family affairs. I dont think any teenager or young adult has manage to catch a show of Spiltsvilla with family around.
The travellers episode ended and I turned the channel to HBO where thankfully ‘Philadelphia’ was being aired. Too bad, I thought, Indian television has lost its once loyal viewer.