If wishes were horses

on the telly

If wishes were horses

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general purpose only. In no event will the writer be liable for any migraine, vertigo or brain damage to the readers. Please note that the road hasn’t been easy for the writer who has barely managed to pull herself out of depression and write to the powers that be.

Dear broadcasters and television producers,As law-abiding citizens of this country, we have borne many a brunt with our chin up — bad roads, complicated taxation, under-the-table handshakes and now, god help us, even demonetisation. But this is beyond our collective wisdom, however minuscule you may imagine it to be. Pray, do not torture us with below-the-belt techniques.

We still look forward to our unwinding-with-the-TV-set moment in the evenings. Why unleash such poor programming in the name of entertainment on television?

What am I whining about? Well, let me hold a mirror to some of the ‘amazing’ things you subject us to through national television in 2016. And might I add, even though these are your own devices, brace yourself.

Bigg Boss contestant Priyanka Jagga peed on a rocking horse while completing a task. And then asked another contestant to wash those clothes. You need to be tough to get into that house. Or even watch it.

Shakti-Astitva Ke Ehsaas Ki decided to break ground by introducing a transgender as their female protagonist. Wait, she didn’t know she was one till she got married?!

In Sasural Simar Ka, your topper of the weird-o-meter, the protagonist turns into….not a naagin, not a daayan, but a fly. That’s an…innovation.
In another of our absolutely favourite shows that finally went off air — Diya Aur Baati Hum, protagonist Sandhya apparently survives a nuclear bomb with only a few scratches. Your actors are really made of stern stuff.

What pains me is that these are your highs on TRP shows. If you can get away with inane stuff like this, I can’t even imagine what could happen if you begin to apply your brains.

Cut out the crap

It’s time to pull up your socks and listen to what the audience wants of you. Shows can be made without including supernatural elements, rodents and ghouls, you know, when your basic premise is about an ambitious woman waiting to live her dream.

There isn’t any need to rely on dramatic music to drive the point home, not say the same thing thrice, and certainly no need to portray vamps as loud vixens to bring out the obvious. The Indian audience is quiet intelligent, thank you, just devoid of variety. After all, we are the same audience that has loved shows like Hasratein, Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, Imtihaan, Office Office, Udaan, Shanti, Swabhimaan, Kora Kagaz, Saans, Buniyaad, Ghar Jamai, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Karamchand, Khandaan, among scores of others.

Back to the basics

It isn’t so difficult. What do you need? A good storyline, strong characters and a finite end. Run it as a series, if you must, but bring the plot to a close, for heaven’s sake. And if you’re out of ideas, we’ve done some homework for you. Give these a good think, massage your brains and kindly go back to the drawing board.

Sitcoms: Ones that do not rely on exaggerated expressions, toilet humour or vulgarity to try and make us laugh. Humour cannot be forced. Point to be noted — Men dressed as women? Crass, yes. Funny, not.

Thrillers: A good edge-of-the-seat thriller with a taut storyline is just what the doctor ordered. With a strong intelligence force in the country, is there need for any further inspiration? There are thousands of stories literally waiting to be told. Read your newspapers daily. Word of caution: DO NOT overdramatise crime thrillers. Brevity is an art. Use it.

Courtroom drama: We need a courtroom drama that sustains on its own merit. Have you seen Suits? We know this is India and the cases could be very different, but getting ghosts and aliens in? Really?

 Sports drama: When it comes to weaving song and dance and inane plots into your TV serials, you look up to your big brother, Bollywood. So why not get charged up now? Sports seems to be the biggest draw this year in tinsel town. Think Sultan, Dhoni... and Dangal. Why not recreate that magic for television?

Supernatural: Great topic! Just don’t dilute it with some romance, then some seduction, then some saas-bahu drama. If you’re making a supernatural show, go all out and try not to give in to the lure of appeasing every segment.

Politics: It’s the bedrock of all drama, like a complete formulaic Bollywood film. It doesn’t get better than this and it has enough and more material for you to pull out plots for a dozen stories at least. Make a scandalous drama, a sarcastic piece, go all out with humour or dig into the murky side.

Women-centric: What’s new in that, you ask? Well, making your protagonist a woman who is independent without having to justify her character. Jassi had to be smart but not beautiful? Kkusum had to earn money for her family, hence was independent? If Aadhe Adhoore’s Jassi had a relationship with her brother-in-law after her husband abandoned her on their wedding night, she was an adulteress and had to die in the final episode? By focussing on such aspects, even though you have women as your central characters, you aren’t giving them their due.

Just a gentle reminder. We happen to be human beings too. Perfectly capable of seeing through laziness. Please don’t peddle that for-TRPs-sake reason of yours any longer. Any more of that and the aspirin I reach out for daily might just change to arsenic.

Sincerely,
A harrowed viewer

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