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Indian TV refuses to take the thriller bait

After a long time, I watched (rather, tried to watch) Emotional Atyachar on Bindass. This, as most TV viewers probably know by now, is the desi version of the international show Cheaters, where suspicious spouses/girlfriends/boyfriends get camera crews to surreptitiously trail their partners.

tv Updated: Aug 20, 2010 23:30 IST
Poonam Saxena

After a long time, I watched (rather, tried to watch) Emotional Atyachar on Bindass. This, as most TV viewers probably know by now, is the desi version of the international show Cheaters, where suspicious spouses/girlfriends/boyfriends get camera crews to surreptitiously trail their partners. If their suspicions are confirmed, there are ugly confrontations — in car parks, on the road, on staircases etc — with the entire TV crew (cameramen, sound guys et al) milling about in the frame.

Emotional Atyachar's current season on Bindass is being hosted by Pravesh Rana, whose chief claim to fame is that he was last seen as an inmate in the Bigg Boss house (reality TV rule: anyone who has spent time in this particular house becomes a 'celebrity;' anyone who has considered for the inmate's job becomes a 'sort-of celebrity.').

In the Emotional Atyachar episode that I watched, a chap who had sworn loyalty to his girlfriend was caught canoodling with another woman (the decoy).

The girlfriend watched the incriminating footage in the studio, all the while sniffing ostentatiously. Every now and then Pravesh would interject with a solicitous "Are you okay?" Then she suddenly stood up and demanded to be taken to the room where the boyfriend and other woman were sitting in a rather, er, intimate fashion, murmuring to each other. (Question: does the person who acts as the decoy have job satisfaction?)

Anyway, the girlfriend then burst into the room, shrieked, shouted, wept, raved, ranted, threatened the shrinking boyfriend with a bottle of water, hit him a few times… whereupon I hurriedly switched to another channel and another programme (even Krishi Darshan on Doordarshan would have done very nicely).

It's difficult to say whether Emotional Atyachar's couples and their stories are genuine or whether they're set-ups. But in either case, they're about as palatable as toxic waste.

Imagine has started a new reality show called Mithi Chhuri — no, it's not about warring couples, it's more like a playfully warring bunch of television actresses. A group of glamorously-turned out soap stars, decoratively seated in the studio in two neat rows, interact with the two male hosts (Shabbir Ahluwalia and Jay Bhanushali) and with each other. They have to do things like rate each other — for example, which one of them is likely to change the most in the presence of men (the 'winner' is dubbed Girgit No. 1). All this provides for much exchange of girlish, giggly banter. It's quite inane, but at least it's cheerful inanity.

Sneak Peek: AXN is starting Season eight of 24 next week, of particular interest to Indian viewers because this is the show that features Anil Kapoor in a key role (as the head of state of a fictional Middle East nation). 24 of course is the hugely popular American show, set in 'real time', where 24 episodes cover 24 hours in the life of special agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland).

I saw the first couple of episodes of season eight and was quite riveted. A tight pace, knife-edge tension, high-voltage action sequences – all of it added up to gratifyingly compelling viewing. And Anil Kapoor seems to have put in a good, solid performance. He goes through his paces like the seasoned actor that he is. Let's hope future episodes maintain the fast pace and unexpected plot twists.

It seems such a pity that though there's more than enough talent in Mumbai to pull off a racy, sophisticated homegrown thriller for TV, television channels will never bite the bullet. They're so stuck in the ghar-shaadi-rishtedaar groove, they can't see beyond mangalsutras and mandaps.

Even the steady success of CID (Sony) doesn't seem to have had any effect. As I said, pity.