No crying and weeping please. Just Enjoy!

Finally someone’s seen the light. Finally someone’s bitten the bullet. Life OK’s new talent show, Hindustan Ke Hunarbaaz, has no eliminations, no winners, no competition, and as the ‘cool gurus’ of the show (actress Sonali Bendre and choreographer Terence Lewis) say, “No crying and weeping please. Just enjoy!”

I’m not a fan of children’s talent shows on TV, regardless of whether they get good ratings or not (and some of them do). The kids are thrown into difficult situations – they face rejection/failure, patronising (and sometimes insensitive) comments from judges, they are forced to act more grown-up than they really are, and you can almost see their eager, pushy, frustrated parents shoving them onstage (so what if they couldn’t become half-way famous in their lives, they’ll make damned sure their kids do); so really, what’s to like about these shows?

At the same time, I’m sure there are lots of very talented children out there and TV shows – if they eschewed the heartless trappings of most reality shows – would be a nice way to showcase these talents. That’s exactly what Hindustan Ke Hunarbaaz seeks to do.

The overall mood is determinedly jolly and cheerful, though I am highly distracted by Sonali Bendre and Terence Lewis’s  frequently-changing, innovative hairstyles. One week Terence’s hair is standing on end in gravity-defying spikes; the next week it has been persuaded to ebb and flow in gentle puffs. One week Sonali’s hair is normal-straight; the next episode it is a mass of squiggly, wayward curls.

As I said, highly distracting. The show is hosted by Paras Tomar, who is all right. There is an odd inflection in the way he delivers his lines, which can be hard to get used to. The string of performances on the show include some genuinely enjoyable ones – like the great qawwali singers from Amritsar, the earnest taekwondo kids from Nagaland and so on. There’s just one problem: all the children on the show are not so talented that they deserve to be on national TV. Some performances were like why-are-we-even-watching-them kind of acts. Also, there are all sorts of acts, from music performances to magic shows.

The result is that you get the feeling you’re watching an extended, rather uneven children’s variety programme. I also caught up with the Gima awards (that’s the music awards) on Star Plus. I usually don’t mind watching award functions because some of the performances can be good and so can the anchoring. This event was hosted by Saif Ali Khan and Parineeti Chopra and they were disappointingly tepid.

Parineeti seems bubbly but that’s hardly a substitute for a good script, fun moments, and chemistry. (Saif was fabulous with Shah Rukh Khan when the two hosted film award functions – but maybe it was Shah Rukh who made the difference).  Lacklustre anchoring apart, the event made for decent viewing.

Some of the performances were superb – such as Sonu Nigam singing Abhi mujh meni kahin in his melodious voice, or Salim Merchant’s tribute to Rajesh Khanna. The Gima awards have whetted my appetite for the award functions that are now going to start coming thick and fast. Bring them on.


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