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Is rabble rousing on TV entertainment?

india Updated: Feb 19, 2010 23:39 IST
Poonam Saxena

One of the fallouts of the Shah Rukh Khan-Shiv Sena episode was that a couple of faces became more familiar to us than even our own, because we saw them again and again on our TV screens, all day and all night, non-stop. Rahul Narvekar, the Shiv Sena legal advisor and spokesperson, seems to have abandoned everything he was doing (maybe he found time to brush his teeth — we can only hope) in order to frantically race from one TV studio to another and participate in panel discussions on the subject. I wish I could say that he is a welcome addition to the talking heads we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on our TV screens (imagine winding up your day without seeing Jayanthi Natarajan or Manish Tiwari or Abhishek Singhvi on TV; you’d probably get withdrawal symptoms) but alas. For a start, every time the cherubic Mr Narvekar, mentioned his party leader, he said ‘the honourable Balasaheb Thackeray’ in reverential tones, as if he were a courtier in the Middle Ages referring to his emperor. I half-expected him to rise from his chair and bow low every time he uttered those four words, but I was disappointed. Secondly, he shouted so much and so insistently, and what he said (rather, shouted) was so objectionable, that he made the term ‘rabble rouser’ appear inadequate.

The other Sainik, who popped up on our screens (wish he hadn’t but do we have a choice in these matters?), was Sanjay Raut and he too – in keeping with his leaders and colleagues — threw around the most offensive accusations and the most bizarre arguments. In the interests of giving everyone a fair say, we have to suffer people like Mr Narvekar and Mr Raut. But I do believe there has to be a limit as to what people can be allowed to say on national television. In the guise of allowing everyone a chance to put forward their point of view, should we allow, for instance, the police officer who beat up a Dalit woman in UP the chance to explain why he engaged in that kind of violence? Is there a case at all for asking a political party to explain why it indulges in open threats and goondagardi? Can there be any explanation worth listening to?

On the entertainment channels, Rahul Mahajan continues with his quest for a bride (NDTV Imagine). A modest level of general knowledge is clearly not very high up on his list of requirements. Some of the would-be brides think that Obama’s full name is Obama bin Laden and that Nagaland is in South Africa. But when it comes to bride-like things such as dressing up, dancing to Hindi film songs, bitching about each other and making eyes at Rahul, they’re all top of the class. As the show progresses, they’re also getting eliminated one by one – some walk away quietly, others have to be led off the sets kicking and screaming. Rahul himself, with his rather, er, scary laugh, is being fussed over and fawned over so much you’d think he was Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan and Aamir Khan all rolled into one. Frankly, watching the show is quite a traumatic experience.

And finally. The sight of BJP leaders breaking into song on stage in Indore was completely startling. I watched goggle-eyed as Nitin Gadkari happily sang Manna Dey’s Zindagi kaisi hai paheli hai as other BJP leaders looked on with indulgent smiles. But say this for them – at least they have good taste in Hindi film songs.