Okay, before anything else, Zee TV has just launched a serial called Hitler Didi. Seriously? Hitler Didi? Do they have a Goebbels Bhaiyya and a Himmler Chacha also waiting in the wings? What were they thinking? Apparently, the serial is about a very strict woman who is the only earning member of her family. Well, that's just fine, but how strict can this strict woman possibly be? I'm not going to break a leg running to my TV to find out.
Not surprisingly, in recent times Zee has dropped to number four (after Star Plus, Sony and Colors) in the ratings charts. The channel still exists in a sindoor-blurred world of Mrs Kaushik's bahus and chhoti bahus. (The last time it had a trend-setting show was when we had just switched centuries).
To be fair, Star Plus too has its share of bahus, including India's favourite bahu (if the ratings are to be believed), Gopi, whose powers of observation and discernment would make a newborn infant seem Einstein-like. But the channel also has a Maryada or an Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon. Maryada is late-night, grown-up viewing, touching on themes such as homosexuality. Iss Pyaar… is erratic and uneven but at its core, it is a sexy love story straight out the pages of a bodice-ripper, with a cruel hero and vulnerable heroine.
Sony Entertainment Television, always the channel with the cleanest record as far as saas-bahu sagas are concerned, is currently playing Kuch To Log Kahenge, a medical romance based on the hit Pakistani serial, Dhoop Kinare. Despite Kuch To's… shallow, bratty heroine (the original Dr Zoya was so appealing) and the rather listless chemistry between actors Kritika Kamra and Mohnish Bahl, the serial manages to be different. Sony's other 'hatke' show, Bade Achche Lagte Hain survives on the mature charm of its lead pair, Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar. Colors is still mostly stuck in its time-worn Balika Vadhu-Uttaran-Laado groove. Currently, it is hoping that reality show Bigg Boss will give it the eyeballs it so badly needs.
Ah, Bigg Boss. Was there ever a collection of more unpleasant, dysfunctional people cooped up in one place? Most are lurkers on the shadows of showbiz: out-of-work actors, small-time actors who usually get screen time of 11 seconds (if they're lucky), reality show regulars, minor socialites and so on. What they all have in common is an appetite — and talent — for constant, debilitating argument. And I'm not talking about the sort of arguments where people present points of view. These are road-rage kind of arguments, where people raise their voices, keep repeating themselves, and say things which make no sense.
But now, Colors is trying to convert this Fightercock Channel into a sort of Spiritual-cum-Religious Channel with the entry of Swami Agnivesh. Why is Swami Agnivesh in the Bigg Boss house? Nobody knows. Now that he is in the house, what is he doing?
When I last checked, he was teaching the housemates yoga, making them do anulom-vilom and brahmari pranayam. He was giving them gyaan and pravachans — on how they should become the spearheads of social and political change after they leave the Bigg Boss house. (Gulp. Does he mean Pooja Missra, to whom fighting comes as effortlessly and naturally as breathing? Or Sky — yes, that really is his name — who you would be afraid to meet in a dark alley, specially if he was laughing?)
We were also treated to the improbable sight of Swami Agnivesh walking resolutely on a treadmill.
Sorry, Colors, but I don't think this is going to help.