The TV tamasha

Even as the Lok Sabha elections are in progress, TV viewers are bombarded with ample poll drama. Rachna Bisht-Rawat gives us a glimpse of the political potboilers on television

The Great Indian Elections: Now showing at a television set near you! When grown men brag about sizes, we expect them to be talking about their latest car, or may be a new cellphone; but not NaMo and MuSi (Mulayam Singh).

When these gentlemen threw numbers at each other sometime back, they were actually discussing — cough cough — chest sizes.

And that too on national television. Or, to be more precise, public rallies covered on national television.

Disclosures such as these are making life really interesting for couch potatoes who now have to be surgically separated from their TV sets.

Just in case you’ve been wondering, they are mostly watching the news.

Naturally, when such interesting disclosures are being made on news channels, why would anyone want to watch anything less scintillating.

The result is that middle-aged men slink shamefully around the houses; even as the wannabe Prime Minister beats his ample chest; while ladies of the household bite their lips and gasp at the awesome width of the Modi torso.

The men get some gasp moments as well when the two major political party candidates from Chandigarh — Gul Panag of the AAP and Kiron Kher of the BJP — spar over the depth of their respective dimples, flashing drop dead gorgeous smiles straight into TV cameras.

Point is that, thanks to 24/7 satellite television, politics and political leaders are flooding our houses with their charm, wit and idiosyncrasies and so far no one’s complaining.

Except maybe Arnab ‘scowl’ Goswami, who is a habitual cribber anyway and we the electorate have learnt to ignore him.

Taking potshots

Getting back to the idiot box, when I switch it on today, Priyanka Gandhi is walking down the roads of Amethi in a beautiful black cotton sari with a dark green border, a perfect smile playing on her lips, hands folded in the perfect namaskar.

She has so much of her grandmother in her.

In Sultanpur, Varun Gandhi is perched on the roof of his shiny SUV, sitting with his car’s sun roof open.

He is being showered by rose petals that are piling up in a fragrant pink pile around him. He bends down and grabs a kid from the crowd, making him a privileged co-passenger for a while.

The kid is open mouthed in delight, while Varun is giving his cherubic ‘I’m-a-nice-Gandhi-vote-for-me’ grin.

Meanwhile, on another channel, a pale yellow kurta envelops NaMo’s 56-inch-ka-seena and a lotus blooms near his button hole as he implores the youth of Hazaribagh to vote BJP; promising better roads, better opportunities and a better future.

Unleashing a scathing attack on the maa-beta team, as he calls them, he speaks about corrupt governments.

You know that is going to fetch a scathing response from the Congress and are hooked to the news for the next few hours.

As the news takes a break, promising to be back soon, and you heave a sigh hoping to get a breather from the constant babble of exit polls, trends, voter behaviour and vote beseeching leaders, in walks a brooding Rahul Gandhi, a dark stubble covering his face as he listens attentively to kisaan bhai log.

Oh, he hasn’t walked into your bedroom; he is part of an advertisement that goes: Har haath tarakki; har haath unnati.

To cut a long story short, hide where you like, but you can’t escape these new stars that have take over our television screens, pushing all our favourite soaps, movies and reality shows to the untouched channels on the remote.

They are giving us more glamour than Fashion TV, more backstabbing than the Bigg Boss show, more family feuds than an Ekta Kapoor soap and more emotion than even Emotional Atyachar.

What’s more, they are even giving us as many stars as a popular Bollywood film. As many as 15 film stars are contesting elections this time as each of them is getting television space.

Right from Vinod Khanna, who hasn’t shown his face in his constituency for the past two years, to Hema Malini to Javed Jaffri to Raj Babbar to Khushboo who has even been groped by some mentally sick men in the crowd, adding to the sensational quotient of TV sound bites.

Drama queens

For those addicted to crime and violence, few shows can match the ruthlessness of Arvind Kejriwal being slapped day after day or the free for all mudslinging going on all around, as obvious from nearly all party campaigns.

We have NaMo saying Lal Bahadur Shastri’s slogan “Jai Jawaan! Jai kisaan!” was tested and twisted to “Mar Jawaan! Mar kisaan!” during the Congress rule, as the crowd listens in rapt attention.

On the channel that is obsessed with the Gandhis, Priyanka Gandhi is calling cousin Varun a waylaid family member who needs to be shown the right path.

Meanwhile Varun, who the television cameras catch filing his nomination papers in Sultanpur, is saying his decency should not be mistaken for cowardice.

There is a hit of impending vitriolic exchange, which keeps the blood thirsty ones amongst us waiting for more.

Down south, Deve Gowda says he will leave Karnataka if NaMo becomes the Prime Minister; NaMo retorts saying the old man is welcome to Gujarat where he has the option of living in an old age home, an independent house or even move in with NaMo himself.

As we go to print; Modi is spewing fire in the Congress direction; RaGa is wondering how a man who did not acknowledge his own wife is promising empowerment to other women; Kejriwal is telling Rajdeep Sardesai that there shall be more attacks directed at him; fashion watchers are telling us that netas are rejecting khadi for the more expensive, comfortable and stylish linen; Rahul is maintaining a low profile and Muayam Singh is making unbelievably retarded “boys will be boys” statements on rape.

The 2014 Indian elections are estimated to cost $5 billion; making it the costliest election ever in India, second only to the 2012 US elections which cost $7 billion.

It’s a big price to pay for the nonstop entertainment we are getting, so better make the most of it. Keep watching the election madness. May the best man/woman win!

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