The only time you were likely to see an octopus on your TV screen was if you were watching a channel like National Geographic or Animal Planet. And you’d probably be seeing a film on the breeding habits of octopuses or, if you were luckier, the sex life of octopuses (full of animal passion?).
But did you ever think you’d be watching hours and hours of octopus stories on news channels? Of course not — but that’s before good old Paul came along. I don’t think there’s anyone left who doesn’t know about Paul or why he has become more famous than all the football players put together. The number of stories I’ve seen on TV about Paul in the last few days is more than the combined tentacles of a dozen octopuses — the amazing accuracy of Paul’s choices, how Spanish chefs have taken octopus off their menus, how everyone in Germany wants to fry Paul and eat him up (Germany lost to Spain only because Paul predicted it, silly) and so on and so forth.
Currently, Breaking News on TV channels is on the lines of: ‘Paul says Spain will win the World Cup and Germany will be victorious in the match for the third place.’ Even as I’m writing this, I’m half watching a riveting story on ‘Baba Paul, samundar ka chamatkari jyotishi’ on Aaj Tak. I can barely look away from the screen.
But why just our own TV news channels? The entire planet seems consumed by Paul. I feel like tugging at the world’s sleeve and saying: “Hey, get a grip. It’s just an octopus.” But psychic octopuses don’t just pop up ever day, and psychic octopuses that predict FIFA World Cup victories? Heads of State could get kidnapped, no one would care, so long as there was (a) a football match (b) a result to be predicted and (c) Paul — alive and well.
But naturally, all things connected with football rule the airwaves at the moment — those of us who only have a vague notion of who’s playing in which team strive to look intensely animated when football-related stories come on TV, otherwise we wouldn’t survive.
But even in the midst of FIFA frenzy, MS Dhoni’s wedding was Big News. When he returned home after getting married, we saw jaw-dropping footage of enormous crowds that had gathered outside his house, all waiting for a glimpse of the newly weds. Dhoni and bride had to appear on the balcony of their house and give darshan to his fans. Celebrity footballers are fine, but celebrity cricketers are next to God.
And finally. It’s official. Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) is returning to the small screen, but this time on a different channel (Sony). The host however will be the original — Amitabh Bachchan (and he promises to use all the ‘typical’ KBC phrases once again — ‘Lock kar diya jaye’ et al).
Will the show work? Well, Amitabh as KBC host was always a class act. Shah Rukh Khan brought his own high energy charm and wit to the show. The programme itself always made for great viewing. But since the novelty has long worn off, will audiences have a been-there-done-that attitude? (After the first season — which was a blockbuster — none of the other seasons really matched up in terms of viewership.
To be fair, the TV landscape itself changed dramatically, so it would have been impossible for the show to replicate its initial success). Even so, most of us will wonder whether the latest season on a still struggling-to-reach-the-top channel will work.
Can we borrow Paul?