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Getting volatile over the veil

india Updated: Nov 04, 2006 03:52 IST
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After a long time, I saw We The People on NDTV 24x7.  My giving the show a break was a good idea; I found the latest edition quite absorbing. Otherwise, things had come to such a pass, I was seeing the usual suspects more often than I was seeing my friends, so omnipresent were they, week after week.
In fact, if you ask me, the programme had become more like a We The Tired Old Guests than We The People.

This week, the topic of discussion was the veil and it made for a volatile discussion that was at the same time quite stimulating.

The show was well anchored by Barkha Dutt, who for once, did not flail her arms about in the manner of an excitable windmill.

So, is Zee TV’s forward march inexorable? At last count, it had 21 slots in the Top 100 list, quite a feat for a channel which had been in a ratings wasteland for years.

It’s a bit like a batsman who has been out for a duck for over a hundred matches suddenly hitting one century after another (as you can very well see — I have been watching Extraaa Innings with extraaa interest).

The programmes that have made it to this list are, of course, another story. Apart from the older serials such as Kasamh Se and Saat Phere, there is the execrable Banoo Main Teri Dulhan and the equally execrable Betiyaan Ghar Ki Lakshmi.

But then, there is no getting around it — viewers like me may rave and rant till we’re blue in the face, but the truth is out there — audiences simply cannot, it seems, have enough of old-fashioned, regressive, repetitive family melodramas.

Star Plus, which began the trend in right earnest, has a lot to answer for. Perhaps it’s just desserts that the channel is now down to 44 slots in the Top 100 (whereas once upon a time, it had as many in the Top 50 itself).

Someone else is playing the melodrama game even better than Star Plus. In retrospect, I almost feel like saying: Come back Jassi, all is forgiven. Put on your braces and black spectacles once again.

The other Zee TV show that continues to do well is Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge, currently in its L’il Champs avatar. Now that they have hunted for the best voices among grown-ups and little children, I don’t know what categories they can possibly come up with next. Teenagers? Or, senior citizens perhaps?

Why do most of the Page 3-type shows on television channels feature so many seriously B-list celebrities? The last time I saw a fashion event on TV, the following people were interviewed: Mink, Parvin Dabas and Ashish Chaudhury.

Since Mink is unlikely to face the camera for the big screen again, she may as well make the most of it for the small screen — which is why she spoke very animatedly and at great length.

As for the other two, I’m sure they have acted in dozens of films (since they looked vaguely familiar), I just wish I could remember even one.
The A-list celebs of course, usually appear in proper one-on-one interviews. Since it was Shah Rukh Khan’s birthday a couple of days ago, King Khan was all over the channels.

I caught some of the interviews, where the superstar spoke about the same things he has been speaking about for years — his endorsements, what it’s like to be No. 1, his latest films etc. Since Shah Rukh is one of those rare movie stars who comes across as genuinely bright and intelligent, I didn’t mind the overdose.

In any case, I’m trying to get used to it — these days, movie stars make it to the national news more often than anyone else, unless we include criminals, of course. And if the law-breakers have done something particularly stomach-churning, all the better.

Star News is the leader here. A father who has played a role in his own son’s death? A policeman who has killed an infant? The channel is on the ball, with lengthy special reports on the subject.

And finally. Where is Semi Girebaal? I’m getting withdrawal symptoms.

Email Poonam Saxena: poonamsaxena@hindustantimes.com

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