Change is always welcome

Telly talk

Change is always welcome

Television overhaul :Shows like ‘Mahi Way’ give a new lease of life to TV

Getting sucked into the highly televised 3 Idiots controversy was a bit like watching ‘Rakhi Ka Swayamwar’. You followed the highs and lows of the protagonists, their mercurial outbursts, chaste protestations of innocence and just as you held your breath to see a culmination of sorts, the air went out of everyone’s sails. Did you not wonder then if  you were taken for a ride while the players in question were laughing all the way to the bank? It was the ‘Big Boss’ syndrome all over again where the line between reality and playing to the gallery blurred and vanished.

But just as we get caught in the non-essentials, life has a way of showing up unannounced. So over the past few weeks, news channels have moved away from Aamir Khan’s many disguises to the quake in Haiti. Also, the murder of Satish Shetty who spent over 15 years as a Right to Information Act (RTI) activist and uncovered many corrupt land deals. Yet, what we see just about skims the surface.

We never really get to plumb the depths of the rot that results in grounded flights, colliding trains, ministers caught with their hands in cookie jars and murky land deals. We never get to know why in this country, film stars and cricketers make more money than hockey’s unpaid and unsung heroes, soldiers at war or teachers shaping young minds? Or why more money is spent on renovating the living quarters of politicians and building theme parks for the likes of Mayawati than on covering manholes where children routinely fall and die? Why in this day and age, a 50 year-old widow in Bihar is gang-raped for being a ‘witch’?  Why do we remember Bhopal only on the anniversary of its tragedy?

On then, to some respite and shows like So You Think You can Dance and Top Chef on AXN where you are dazzled by passionate people who treat their bodies and their cooking knives with a reverence associated only with gods and altars.

 One of the most enjoyable interludes on Times Now is Total Recall, the weekly tribute to forgotten maestros like Khayyam, OP Nayyar and Basu Chatterjee with priceless trivia about their quirks, their conviction and integrity. CNN IBN’s show Bollywood Blockbuster recently paid a nuanced  tribute to cult hit Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and it was packed with delicious bytes from its lead players who laughed and cried through a Rs 7 lakh film that went on to become a timeless, well-loved classic.

Another show that caught my eye and ear recently is Yeh Pyar Na Hoga Kam on Colours for the simple reason that it reminds me of Manohar Shyam Joshi’s Hum Log with its identifiable characters, an ethos far removed from big cities and great

dialogue. I like the detailing of the sets (the mithaiwala, the newspaper stall, a ‘mohalla’ where only one car can pass at a time, the common walls, the shuttered shop up for rent and more), the small town girls dressed in cardigans, the typical UP ‘lehza’ or manner where the men refer to themselves as ‘hum’ and the matriarch rules the roost with an assertive “Hum toh kehti hain.”

Yes, it is far more cosmetic than Hum Log but to see an old-fashioned love story set against the still topical caste divisions with old Hindi film songs playing in the backdrop is a refreshing. Just the opening refrain of  Kishore Kumar’s ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas’ is enough to bring back a wave of nostalgia for the long departed days of Chitrahaar and innocence.

Sony’s Mahi Way on the other hand plunges us headlong into the soul less world of urban dating and weight issues. The warm and funny note in its sterile world is struck by the heroine who makes us care for her and makes us thank the heavens that Ekta Kapoor’s reign as the telly queen is well and truly over.  

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