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How much is too much on television?

How far should TV shows go? Should they go where television crews don’t generally go — into people’s private and personal space, without their knowledge? Poonam Saxena finds out.

tv Updated: Jan 16, 2010 17:12 IST
Poonam Saxena

Small screenHow far should TV shows go? Should they go where television crews don’t generally go — ie into people’s private and personal space, without their knowledge? The general rule of thumb seems to be that if it’s for the larger public good, then it’s all right. If it’s a question of public functionaries asking for bribes, for instance, then a sting operation/ secret cameras are justified. But this is the territory of news channels.

What about entertainment channels? What about something like Emotional Atyachar (Bindass)? For the benefit of readers who have never heard of this show (lucky things), Emotional Atyachar seeks to nail a person’s infidelity. If X or Y thinks his girlfriend is cheating on him, then a Bindass TV crew will follow the girl secretly and film her interactions with other men, to prove whether she is (or isn’t) unfaithful to her boyfriend. This itself is bizarre enough. But what is even more bizarre is that often, the suspicious partner appears to want his suspicions confirmed.

So the girl in question is set up — a decoy is introduced and her boyfriend urges this decoy to get more and more flirtatious to see the girl’s reaction. The boyfriend says, “Ask him to kiss her. I want to see how far she goes.” (She should certainly go as far as to throw him out of her life permanently — and that’s the mildest response I can think of). But that brings me to my original question — how far should TV shows go? In the case of Emotional Atyachar, they have clearly gone far enough. If they went any further, they might want to change the name of their channel from Bindass to something more appropriate (I leave it to your imagination. Mine is working overtime and most of the terms I’m coming up with can’t be printed in a family newspaper). But with programmes such as Dadagiri and Emotional Atyachar, Bindass seems intent on a hat trick of hosting TV shows you wish you’d never heard of.

In comparison, the squabbling and bickering that you see on other reality shows is akin to doves cooing and billing at each other. At the moment, for my money, the most glitzy, high-energy and enjoyable reality show on air is Music Ka Maha Muqabala (Star Plus) — purely on the basis of the quality of singing. Since almost all the singers on the show are seriously talented and they often perform together, the ‘musical’ experience of Music Ka Maha Muqabala is of a much higher order than what we’ve seen so far.

Since 3 Idiots has become such a blockbuster, the ripples are being felt on our TV screens too. There was a nice interview with Rajkumar Hirani (Beautiful People, CNBC), done by Anuradha Sengupta. Though she alluded to the Chetan Bhagat controversy, she didn’t really pin him down. Perhaps that was because Hirani kept saying he didn’t want to talk about it, though he kept talking about it (“I’m not bothered, my conscience is clear...” etc).

But it was interesting to get insights into the film from the filmmaker himself. I also saw Omi Vaidya being interviewed on News 24 — except that instead of asking him questions, the anchor kept requesting him to recite his dialogues from the film, which the poor fellow did uncomplainingly. Why didn’t she just buy a ticket and go see the movie?

And finally. I caught up with one of Colors’s new serials — Yeh Pyaar Na Hoga Kum, about a Brahmin boy who falls in love with a Kayastha girl and everyone goes into a tizzy. So after child marriage, female foeticide, forced kidnappings, rural poverty, Colors has now moved into caste divisions. Sigh. Isn’t there such a thing as carrying a ‘winning’ formula too far?