Rejoice TV nerds: The time has come. After yet another year of incredible impatience (well done, by the way), the new fall TV season (September to December) is finally upon us. Now comes the bigger challenge: Sifting through all the noise and finding the perfect show to binge on. But not to worry, we've compiled a list of the most exciting shows of the new season.

    There are already too many shows being produced these days. Sure, it's the new golden age but there are literally hundreds of programmes vying for your attention.

    We're all aware of Priyanka Chopra's Quantico. Only a year after Nimrat Kaur gave a great performance in the worst season of Homeland, Chopra is taking it a step further. She's starring in her own show about a group of young agents in the FBI's Quantico facility, complete with soap-opera level drama and an iffy American accent.

    For the purpose of this preview, we're mostly ignoring regular network television because we all know that golden age has bypassed networks and that they're producing mostly rubbish (we're looking at you Gotham). We also won't be including any returning series (now we're looking at you X-Files). It's all about the fresh stuff here.

    Cable and streaming on the other hand is showing no signs of slowing down. And that's where the best storytelling is happening and where the best talent is headed. So here goes.

    The puply, violent and extremely entertaining story of the world's most infamous drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, a man who used to earn a reported $60 million a day at his peak and the cops tasked to track him down. More than anything else, what this show will do is make your entire life's ambition to get yelled at by the great Wagner Moura. Want even better news? The show's already streaming on Netflix.
    Moonbeam City

    Sample the cast: Rob Lowe, Elizabeth Banks, Kate Mara and Will Forte. Now sample the setting: A 1980's cop show with neon pink visuals and a synth-infused score. Oh, and did we mention it's a cartoon? The show premieres on Comedy Central on September 16.

    Into the Badlands
    Remember that really cool martial arts show that you were binge-watching all those years ago? That's right, neither do we. Why didn't anyone think of this before? The show's loosely based on the Chinese tale The Journey to the West, about the epic journey undertaken by a warrior and a young boy across a violent feudal land. It's another attempt by AMC to luck out in the post Breaking Bad/Mad Men age. It premieres on November 15.

    Scream Queens
    This holds sentimental value, especially with the great Wes Craven's death still fresh in our minds. Although it's another in Ryan Murphy's (Glee, American Horror Story) never ending output, the cast kind of sells it. Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin and the original scream queen herself Jamie Lee Curtis. You can safely chalk this down in the guilty pleasure category and contemplate whether Neve Campbell making a cameo is asking for too much. Look out for a September 22nd debut on Fox.

    Flesh and Bone
    From ex-Breaking Bad alum Moira Walley-Beckett and visionary Aussie director David Michod (Animal Kingdom) comes an exciting miniseries set in the world of professional ballet. "Like Black Swan?" we hear you ask. Well, yes. Even the trailers look eerily similar to that great Darren Aronofsky movie. But ask yourself this: Is that really a bad thing? The show premieres on Starz on November 8.

    We're going to cheat a bit here. Yes, we know this is technically a returning show and we promised not to include any of them here. But it's also an anthology, featuring a young Lou Solverson played by Patrick Wilson. Yes, we know how True Detective season 2 panned out. But while that show's overly grim tone killed it, this looks like a return to the darkly humourous universe we've come to love. FX has set a premiere date of October 12.

    Hand of God
    Ron Perlman stars as a corrupt judge who, after suffering a breakdown starts thinking that God is compelling him onto a path of vigilante justice. Think Preacher meets Judge Dredd. With a pilot directed by World War Z's Marc Forster, this looks like another great entry in the Amazon Studios roster. All episodes premiere on September 4.

    Red Oaks
    Another Amazon Studios show. This one boasts the incredible behind-the-scenes team of director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL) and Steven Soderbergh (who's changing the game with his Clive Owen-starrer The Knick). Craig Roberts (Submarine) plays a tennis player who takes a temp job at the high-end Red Oaks Country Club in the 1980's. Amazon's other dramedies Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle were both brilliant, and this looks like it will live up to that high benchmark. All episodes stream on October 12.

    The Bastard Executioner
    Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) returns with his new show. But this time there aren't any hairy bikers. There are however, lots of hairy medieval guys. On the surface this looks like a cheap cash-in on the Game of Thrones wave. But Sutter is running the show and it's set intriguingly during the Welsh rebellion. Oh, and Ed Sheeran has a recurring role. FX will premiere all the episodes on September 15.

    Wicked City
    This is the sole network programme on the list so it must be extra special. It's set in '80s LA on the Sunset Strip featuring two LAPD cops on the hunt for a romantically-linked serial killer couple. Think Dexter meets that great Brad Pitt movie Kalifornia. There's something really enticing about a good old-fashioned noir drama. The show will premiere on ABC on October 27.

    The author tweets @NaaharRohan

Congress was always adept at political polarisation

  • Prasenjit Chowdhury, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Apr 17, 2014 22:13 IST

On the face of it, granting no quarter to the opposition is understandable during the polls and war. Therefore, Congress president Sonia Gandhi visiting Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Syed Bukhari, to appeal for a united move to stop the so-called “secular vote” from splitting, consequent to which the leading Muslim cleric urged Muslims to vote chiefly for the Congress looked innocuous. But it is not.

After Indira Gandhi’s return to power in 1980, the increasing exploitation by the Congress of the ambiguity of secularism for the political use of religion, especially in the form of populist invocations of a majority Hindu identity, was there for all to see. It was a departure from the more secular attitude espoused by Jawaharlal Nehru, the reason for which lay in the steady decline of the Congress as a mass political institution at a time when its authority was under increasing challenge not only from the Hindu right but also low-caste and regional parties — the outcome of the process of the steady ‘democratisation’ of the Indian polity.

According to the 2001 census, 80.5% of the more than a billion Indians were Hindu, 13.4% Muslim, 2.3% Christian, 1.9% Sikh, 0.8% Buddhist and 1.1% others. The Constitution recognises a third of Hindus separately as belonging to the Scheduled Castes — the erstwhile Untouchables or Dalits (16% of the population) or Scheduled Tribes (8%). The remainder can also be variously grouped as upper caste (17%) or Other Backward Classes (OBC), another administratively recognised category (43%). When taken together with the complex system of locally or regionally discrete jatis, this represents a formidable obstacle to the creation of a singular Hindu political identity. On the basis of this demographic distribution, it might be easier to see why political parties eye the Muslim vote-bank to swing votes in their favour.

So when the name of the game is political polarisation, the Congress is as much a willing player as the BJP, or, for that matter, as the SP (though Bukhari supported it in the 2009 polls, he advised against it this year), the BSP (yet another party blacklisted by Bukhari) or the Trinamool Congress (Bukhari urged Muslims to support her party). The only difference is that the Congress claims a proprietary stake to all secular votes. 

There is no point in regurgitating the darker stabs of political/communal polarisation in which Rajiv Gandhi was thought to be indirectly responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid as for his role in the Shah Bano case. In opening up of the Babri Masjid on the VHP’s request and in launching his election campaign from Faizabad calling it Ram’s land, he tried to play one community against the other. It bears recall that he had a historical mandate, and the support of the largest number of MPs ever, still his government in the mid-1980s made a series of decisions that changed the contours of the polity, polarising it in profound ways.

In the post-Emergency period, the Congress never had a real Opposition till the BJP shot to prominence after LK Advani’s rath yatra in 1992 that sparked off a communal rioting, in which analysts discovered a striking correlation between where the BJP enjoyed greatest electoral success and the spread of communal violence.

All said and done, all political leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, by seeking to prevail upon Bukhari, or Mamata Banerjee assiduously courting the imams by providing them financial sops earlier on the assumption that it is way cheaper than the social cost of substantive development for Muslims to garner votes, feed on the ghettoisation of the Muslim community.  They presume that the Muslims in India have no mind of their own and are so impressionable that they exercise their votes en masse on the instructions of an influential Muslim cleric and that it is only the theologians who represent the communities and their interests. This alone should be viewed as deeply offensive to the Muslims.

Prasenjit Chowdhury is a Kolkata-based commentator. The views expressed by the author are personal.


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