One of the seriously lamentable fallouts of the satellite TV explosion has been the death of a certain kind of programming. The chances of seeing a show on classical dance or music on any of the private entertainment channels is zero. The chances of seeing Indian films — in languages other than Hindi — is zero.
Your only saviour is — yes, Doordarshan. DD Bharati is your best bet if you want to see performances by masters of Hindustani classical music and Carnatic music, or classical dance forms by exponents. There is no space for all this ‘high culture’ in our determinedly commercial, lowest-common-denominator focused private channels. Doordarshan to the rescue once again. DD has always telecast films in other Indian languages, but now, there will be a special slot called the Best of Indian Cinema, where, for the next year (every Sunday and Monday night, 11pm), DD will show national award-winning films or films that have been invited to major international festivals. So whether it’s Adoor Gopalakrishnan or Umesh Kulkarni (the two filmmakers whose movies are on this weekend: Nizhalkkuthu in Malayalam and Deool in Marathi), viewers will have the chance to see films they would otherwise only manage to catch at film festivals. I think this is very good news and I know for certain that I will be recording all the films.
As for what else is new on the other entertainment channels, AXN has begun the British crime drama, Sherlock. The show places Sherlock Holmes and John Watson bang in the 21st century: Watson has just returned from military service in Afghanistan, Sherlock uses modern gadgets and technology to solve crimes. But some things are still as they were — such as Sherlock’s Baker Street address. Actor Benedict Cummerbatch’s Sherlock — referred to as a ‘psychopath’ in the show by members of the police force — is brilliant but ruthless. He’s eccentric, strange, arrogant, chillingly single-minded in his investigations, yet funny and strangely likeable. It’s a riveting performance and Cummerbatch’s cold, pale, fine-featured face has made him something of a favourite with female fans.
And finally. To end with DD once again: there is also a new dance contest reality show on DD national called Bharat ki Shaan Rumjhum. The interesting part here is that of the two teams, one is composed of classical Indian dancers, under the mentorship of Kathak dancer Sandeep Mahavir (the non-Indian team is led by Sandip Soparrkar). Classical dancer Sonal Mansingh is the ‘guru shreshta.’ The show is unusual because of the classical Indian dance element; and Sonal Mansingh is so knowledgeable, it’s a pleasure to listen to her.