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US Prez race: And the vote goes to...

Unfortunately, all we can do is fulminate silently at our inability to vote — specially after we’ve just seen the Presidential debate on TV and strongly felt like throwing something (Joe the plumber’s tool box?) at John McCain, writes Poonam Saxena.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2008 22:59 IST
Poonam Saxena

All of us should have a vote when it comes to the US elections, since the American President (or at least the current incumbent) seems to believe that he’s the President of the whole world.

Unfortunately, all we can do is fulminate silently at our inability to vote — specially after we’ve just seen the Presidential debate on TV and strongly felt like throwing something (Joe the plumber’s tool box?) at John McCain. Even a half-wit could have made out that Barack Obama came across as the better candidate.

McCain was petty, testy, boring. Obama was polite, calm, articulate, likeable. That’s what the post-debate polls in the US showed too, so hopefully the American electorate won’t let the world down again. The very thought that Sarah Palin could become President — if McCain is elected and dies while in office — is so scary that I think the Americans would do well to insist on a televised quiz show for Presidential hopefuls in future.

Some questions they could be asked: (a) do you have a passport (b) have you seen a map of the world and can you locate Africa on it (c) Or even Asia (d) Even Europe would do (e) Never mind, just try South America.

What I have enjoyed the most however is the quality of the election coverage on CNN. Periodically, CNN International breaks for the domestic feed and the programming is so much better that you realise how much those of us who do not live in the United States are missing. In particular, Anderson Cooper would be a huge star if we saw much more of him.

Jonathan Mann is well known to viewers of CNN International so it is refreshing to see him covering a domestic US election. His Campaign Trail show is smart, snappy and often funny. I like the promo too especially the bit where he sends himself up (“Nobody understands American politics like… a Canadian”). If only Indian television channels managed to make our own elections half as interesting!

Back home, the television world is in the midst of much churning — the TV entertainment world, that is. New channel Colors has already become the No. 2 entertainment channel, having convincingly beaten veterans like Zee and Sony as well as other new players like NDTV Imagine and 9X.

Colors is within kissing distance of the No. 1 Star Plus and it could be the kiss of death for the latter.

The success of Colors also signals the return of the static camera (just watch Colors’ top-rated show Balika Vadhu). So all those cinematographers who were incapable of shooting serials unless they shook and waved and jerked their cameras around as if they were Jimi Hendrix clones and their cameras were guitars will hopefully soon be out of business. And all of us can stop keeping sickness bags and anti-nausea pills handy when we sit in front of the TV to see serials.

Since Balika Vadhu has become the country’s most popular serial, many of the news channels have naturally done stories on the show (which, in case you still don’t know, is about a child bride in a traditional Rajasthani household).

That’s fine, but it’s a bit much when interviewers ask the little girl who plays the child bride, questions like, “So how’s your chemistry with your on-screen husband?” (Headlines Today).

And of course, as always happens with popular serials, other channels instantly latch on to the winning formula. I saw a promo on Zee TV for a new serial called Chhoti Bahu. I wonder where the inspiration for that came from.

In Indian television, nothing succeeds like excess.

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