The season for objections

Feb 07 2013, 03:30 IST
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SummaryPerhaps we can boycott television news channels next — they’re giving us enough reason to do so

Perhaps we can boycott television news channels next — they’re giving us enough reason to do so

Now look here, we find the loud noise of TV news intolerable, culturally speaking of course. So, we will boycott news channels. If despite our boycott, they continue to disturb the peace, we will switch off the TV sets. If they still broadcast louder and clearer than the Republic Day parade bands, we will break the TV sets. If that doesn’t stop them, we will disconnect the cable TV or DTH connections. If that fails to silence them, we will protest at Jantar Mantar, India Gate until the Central government bans them. And if all else fails, there’s always an FIR or the moral police: the Grand Mufti, Muslim outfits, the RSS, the VHP, Shiv Sena...

In the cold climate of cultural intolerance, to say nothing of the weather conditions in the north, we object. We object to the 9 o’clock news not being the 9 o’clock news at all, but the 9 o’clock views. We object to their loud cloud, oh, but we’ve said that already.

Moving right along, let’s get to more objectionable matters on TV. So much to object to. Take, for instance, Sooraj’s face (Diya Aur Baati Hum, Star Plus). In the last six months, if his expression has changed even once, we will watch all the episodes of the serial we have missed over the last six months. Honestly, his face is as expressive as a blank sheet. And one year later, he is still falling love with his wife who is still staring worshipfully at his strong jaw. This is intolerable, quite apart from being ludicrous.

Equally intolerable is Savitaji (Pavitra Rishta, Zee). You know the one — Mrs Deshmukh squinting one eye with evil intent in imitation of Lalita Pawar. She continues to do everything she can to make everyone else in the cast unhappy. Not just the heroine Archana but her own son, Manav, too and her granddaughters. The serial has moved forward by 22 years since it began, but she has not. Moved. At all. This is intolerable, for us as well as for her. How can she stand in the same place for so long?

And what is a cultural abomination, besides being intolerable and displeasing to the eye, is the latest haveli in Sanskaar — Dharohar Apno Ki (Colors). It looks like a movie set, which, in all likelihood, it is, from the 1950s with a fresh coat of Asian Paints Ultima (“tareef sirf ghar ki”). When will our TV characters live in homes that are simply houses? Why must they always live in mini Taj Mahals?

And when will they stop dressing like maharajas and maharanis? It is culturally outdated for a man to be hanging around in a shervani all day. Sure, Ansh was attending a wedding this week (Punar Vivaah, Zee) but he frequently dresses like every day is a wedding. Perhaps we should ignore the little matter of how the majority of female characters are decked out in finery like jewellery shop mannequins, but how, when it’s the first thing we are made to notice? Why are they wearing heavy fake jewels in the first place? We’re told told TV is aspirational, but are these the cultural aspirations we want viewers to aspire to? Ban them all.

In the real world of TV, while English TV news channels discussed cultural intolerance from Tamil

Nadu to Kashmir, Monday and Tuesday, the Hindi channels were warning us what we were in for: the big chill or “maha thand” (Aaj Tak). So before the deluge on Monday night, we had been forewarned, which is just as well. Otherwise, we might have thought that the cultural wars were being fought out in the open with all that thunder and lightning.

On Tuesday morning, ABP was wading in ankle-deep water as it showed us pictures of north India snowed under or rained out. It also informed us that Rajnath Singh had cancelled his Lucknow meeting due to the rain. Odd... have you noticed that Hindi news channels lend much more space than English news to matters that concern our daily lives?

Watched Malala Yousafzai’s first public statement on BBC World, and while we could not take our eyes off her face, which bears evidence of the brutal attack on her, she spoke with fluency and simplicity. Now that’s aspirational in every way.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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