Horrors galore on those channels


Advised complete rest by the doctors, I found myself surfing channels on television. I don’t normally watch much TV, but one month of bed rest forced me to watch whatever fare was on offer, and what I saw stunned me.

My idea of terms and concepts seemed pretty outdated. For instance, humour according to the conventional dictionary — which I follow as an English teacher — is “the quality that makes something laughable or amusing; funniness”, or “that which is intended to induce laughter”. According to Indian television, humour or “comedy” is men dressed as women singing and dancing and forcibly planting kisses on a hapless guest on the show. Roars of applause follow this act. These “comedy” shows apparently have a great “international” fan following. Clearly I was behind the times!

Then there are the dance shows. I decided to watch them as I am fond of dancing and shake a leg once in a while. The dance shows I watched on television had many things in common. In fact, I only figured out that they were different shows from the channel logo on the top left or right of the screen. Going by the anchors, the judges were all “legendary” gurus or choreographers. While they occupied the ordinary judges’ seats, there was a “maha” guru, or grandmaster, who occupied a showpiece, throne-like chair. The dancers all performed “awesome” acrobatics, to some “mind-blowing choreography”. Week after week the judges claimed they (and we) were witnessing a “never-before” spectacle of dance.

Each episode had a theme — a famous actor, a festival and such. One such episode had “Ma”, or mother, as the theme. After watching the show, I had a serious guilt complex. I called up my mom and told her that I loved her. She dismissed this emotional confession thus: “Can you call me back later? I am trying to solve the crossword.” Meanwhile everyone on the dance show — the judges, the dancers and the audience — got teary-eyed remembering their mothers. Clearly, my family was behind the times.

The daily soaps take the cake, icing and cherry. They teach us many things in a half-hour capsule. After watching a few episodes you realise men are from some un-named planet: they suspect their wives and throw them out of the house on the basis of anonymous phone calls, go from riches to rags when they don’t get one business tender, and become homeless and wander on the streets at the swish of a signature!

Women are from another galaxy altogether, where they silently suffer accusations, leave their homes to save their families, transform themselves into successful businesswomen after one presentation and create business solutions out of thin air.

The evil women surpass the good ones in terms of their exotic charms — you have snake women or snakes disguised as women enticing the good husband away from his wife, you have spirits and witches with serpent bindis and also the normal evil woman who keeps coming up with endless schemes to oust the good bahu.

Did someone say man is mortal? Not the TV man — he never dies. If he does, you need not shed any tears because he is sure to emerge later (generally after five years) with a beard and/or blue eyes! Dead bodies are identified on the basis of a wallet. The logic? Yes, this is his “batwa”, hence it must be his body! The next ten episodes focus on each member of the “dead but not really dead” man’s family’s memories of their interactions with him. A couple more episodes cover the obsequies.

If death is given a lot of time and space, can marriage be far behind? We can be assured of a month of episodes covering every aspect of the big fat Indian wedding. Now, considering that some of the main characters get married multiple times in the story, it is indeed bound to be an extended saga.

This is the stuff entertainment channels are made of. The horror and suspense thrillers on TV do provide a modicum of humour and entertainment, albeit unintentionally. Clearly my idea of entertainment as “being provided with amusement or enjoyment” is behind the times.

I shall now seek my entertainment elsewhere. I shall seek my humour from P.G. Wodehouse and my inspiration from the classics. Idiots like me don’t deserve the idiot box. Clearly my idea of entertainment as amusement or enjoyment is behind the times. —The Hindu


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