Weekly Rec*ap: In Your Face | brunch | Hindustan Times
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Weekly Rec*ap: In Your Face

You know there's something seriously wrong with Indian television when The Great Khali, Balika Vadhu and Dolly Bindra are permanent fixtures. What the *bleep* is wrong with our writers, wonders Rohan Joshi...

brunch Updated: Apr 22, 2011 12:30 IST
Rohan Joshi

Hello! Given that this is my first column for the good folks at Brunch, I wanted to make sure I wrote something insightful, something that deals with life's grandest themes, and indeed its smallest ones. Something that puts the world, and your life, in perspective. I wanted to make sure I served up an intellectual gourmet.

But then they rang and told me to write about Indian television, so that's the end of that. To be fair, nobody is more qualified to write about Indian television than I am. This is for two reasons:

1) I do not watch it, and

2) I do not often produce it. (Though, in the interest of full disclosure, at age 6, I was "Excited Child #3" on a Doordarshan musical called Phoolwaari Baccho Ki. Maybe you remember it. I pray you don't.)

Dolly Bindra
Dolly Bindra akaThe Bigg Boss House.
I say this because if you watch Indian television, or make it, you can't write about it. Not because it's a conflict of interest, but because it is entirely possible that if you engage in either of those two activities, you physically cannot write. I am not worried about this joke offending the people who make most Indian television, as I am fairly certain that they also cannot read.

Which brings me to the problem I have with Indian television. Where on earth did all the writers go? We're the country that wrote Malgudi Days, Hum Log, Buniyaad even. How did we go from that to "You know what we should do? We should make that child-bride come to Bombay to search for her child-husband who ran away! And when she finds him, she should get shot. In the face."

The last time I saw a fantastically plotted script on Indian television, 11 Sri Lankans went home disappointed and Sachin Tendulkar got carried around the field by Virat Kohli. Indian fiction on TV is for the most part, mindless, soulless, plotless drivel. Only some of it, like the Lok Sabha, is genuinely gripping.

The sadder truth? You can't even blame the (non) writers. They built it, we came. In droves, even. The drivel rates well, and night after night, families sit down and continue to get their fix of it. Why? I'm not sure, but I have a (not necessarily scientific) theory.

Do not adjust your screens. I'm really this creepy.
Twenty years ago, we watched TV because well, what else was there? We watched TV to be engaged, to be gripped, to be caught in the throes of a good narrative. Today, with a busier life, one in which we get distractions and attractions on tap, you don't plonk yourself down in front of the TV to be engaged, you do it to be distracted. It's white noise, to take the edge off your day and lull you to sleep. And white noise doesn't need a script.

So come on then TV writers. Engage me, thrill me, challenge me, enthrall me. Or I'll lure you all to Bombay to search for your child-husband. And then I will shoot you. In the face.

Writer Rohan Joshi is also a Comedian, Bombayite, Grammar Nazi, Bengan, LOST fan, Astronaut, Nobel Laureate and slight-stretcher-of-truth. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MojoRojo