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Pink Lady & Iron Butterfly

Pratibha Advani has a pleasant television manner so it is always fun to watch Stree, Super Achiever, her interview show on, well, super achievers which is frankly, her old Sab TV show, Swayam, with a different name and a slightly larger budget.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2006 01:15 IST

Pratibha Advani has a pleasant television manner so it is always fun to watch Stree, Super Achiever, her interview show on, well, super achievers which is frankly, her old Sab TV show, Swayam, with a different name and a slightly larger budget.

Too much of the budget though seems to go into the anchor’s wardrobe. Last week, Pratibha chose Rina Dhaka to be her Stree Super Achiever and though the questions trod the familiar ground, I was fascinated by the contrast in styles of dressing. Rina, the high fashion person, wore a basic jacket-shirt combo while Pratibha wore a bright pink, highly embroidered salwar kameez that would have won her Best Dressed Lady prize at any Miss Karol Bagh contest. Which is a shame because it wasn’t a bad show.

Pratibha is on Awaaz, the Hindi version of CNBC TV 18 which I always watch with admiration because it is possibly the only Hindi channel that actually looks more upmarket than its English counterpart. While CNBC has now settled into the familiar routine of standard sets and Shereen Bhan every hour, Awaaz looks brighter, smarter and seems to have the better anchors, even if they’re not promoted in the way in which the English anchors are feted and celebrated.

I search every week for something nice to say about Times Now so that I am not accused of any kind of inter-newspaper bias. Alas, this is mostly a doomed task. But I have to say that there are one or two things that I can praise without reservation. One is the calibre of some of the younger anchors who they only put on late at night. And the other is the satirical show that Maria Goretti and Roshan Abbas host in the evenings. Maria plays it straight, but Roshan has such impeccable comic timing that even the poorest jokes seem funny. The only thing funnier on TV is Double Take on the days that the Amar Singh puppet holds centrestage.

Jodi Kamaal Ki (Star Plus) is a variation of one of the oldest formats in TV history: you call a couple to the studio, make them do silly things and explore how well they know each other. The programme is executed efficiently enough but without the flair of, say, Nach Baliye. Part of the problem is the presenter. Rakshanda Khan tries very hard to be bubbly and vivacious in the Mandira Bedi mould. But something about her seems determinedly un-ebullient. Like an iron butterfly, perhaps.

Would Arundhati Roy vote for the Congress? Probably not. (“Because, like, you know, they’re all like, part of the same, you know, system that’s so sick and perverse like, you know…”) Then why on earth does she sound so much like Sonia Gandhi when she speaks Hindi on television?

“Yeh bahut shameful hai,” she trilled. “Yeh fascist forces…” You felt like patting her on the head and saying “Time for you to go to school, missy baba.”

Obviously the shooting of Pramod Mahajan was the big story of the week. And just as obviously, no channel had any special insight into what had happened. So I didn’t object to the slightly mindless and repetitive nature of the coverage. But even so, Zee News deserves a special award for Most Mindless Interviews On Television.

Unable to find the doctor who operated on Mahajan, they first found an old surgeon and bombarded him with such queries as “Why is the operation taking so long?” and “He has been hit by three bullets. How serious is that?” Eventually, the bemused doctor gave up and simply asked, “Matlab?”

Next, they found the surgeon who had done the operation and gave him the same treatment: “Is he in ICU?” And even “What percentage of injuries does he have?” The surgeon, Dr Sudhashu Bhattacharya, who went from news channel to news channel, subtly contradicting the official line that Mahajan was out of danger, finally told the Zee News anchor, “You can’t have a percentage of injuries. You only have a percentage of burns.”

Poor old Pramod Mahajan. He deserves better than these mindless clods on the news channels.