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About (cribbing) millionaires and slum children

tv Updated: Nov 07, 2009 00:17 IST
Poonam Saxena
Poonam Saxena
Hindustan Times
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Bindass has started a new reality show called The Big Switch. Here’s the deal: A bunch of rich, spoiled kids are transplanted from their plush homes to a slum. Well, sort of a slum. They actually live in a kind of dormitory — not particularly luxurious, I agree, but not exactly a slum either. Each of these kids has a ‘slum buddy’ — a girl/boy from the slums, whose dreams they’re supposed to try and fulfill (by performing various tasks). Most of the slum buddies want to build a house for their parents. Some of them want to become TV stars. One said he wanted to train as a chef.

But the whole idea of the show is for us to see these rich kids in their distressed jeans and mini skirts and strappy tops moaning and groaning because there’s no air-conditioning in their living quarters (“No AC? How will we sleep?”), or because there are clouds of mosquitoes buzzing around in their room (“So many mosquitoes? How will we sleep?”) etc etc. Also — in the time-honoured tradition of reality shows — they spend much of their time quarrelling with each other. “Don’t boss me, okay?” snaps someone called Pooja. “You were so bad to me on national television,” wails someone called Natasha. “You shut up!” says someone else whose name I can’t remember. And so on. (Some things never change, do they, whether they’re in a Bigg Boss house or a Smaller Make Believe Slum-Type house).

The Big Switch is hosted by film actress Genelia D’Souza, who is in the strange habit of constantly saying the most mundane things but making them sound like earth-shattering challenges. “So, are you… ready?” she will ask, giving everyone deeply significant looks. My imagination working overtime, I wonder if she’s going to ask the participants to turn cartwheels in the loo, or bathe in a sewer or something equally life-changing. But after a pregnant pause, Genelia will usually say something like, “Are you ready to — cook a meal?!” (Wow). Or she might say, “Are you ready to — meet Piggy Chops, I mean Priyanka Chopra?!” (Yes, Piggy, er, I mean Priyanka Chopra came on the show and did a good impersonation of Santa Claus as she doled out lots of gifts for all the slum kids).

This one is clearly Bindass’s big show, and so it’s on all the time on the channel. That’s something of a relief because earlier, the programme that was on all the time was Dadagiri, surely one of the grossest shows ever made in the history of television. (Let me hasten to add, however, that according to the channel, it is wildly popular with college kids and the like. I’m not — in marketspeak — the TG. A fervent thank God for that).

Colors retains its winning streak when it comes to ratings. I’ve been watching one of their recently-launched shows, Bairi Piya, off and on. When it began, the serial was pitched as a fiction show revolving around the plight of farmers in Vidarbha. This was truly depressing — I don’t mean the alleged subject matter of the serial but the fact that a serious issue like farmer suicides was going to be handled by the same production house that had given us screechy melodramas like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki in the past. Thankfully, the serial has now settled into a different story altogether (a Thakur’s obsession with the daughter of a poor farmer). But unfortunately, Ekta Kapoor’s production house remains addicted to those weird special effects that effectively comprise almost half of the 30 minute show. Balaji should consider taking a leaf out of Balika Vadhu — whatever the drawbacks of the show, the style in which it is shot is refreshingly different.

And finally. Sachin Tendulkar may have made 17,000 runs, but the last few minutes of the match were heart-breaking to watch. Sigh.