Entertainment channels are full of dancing children — on Colors (Chak Dhoom Dhoom), Zee (Dance India Dance Lil Masters), Sony (Boogie Woogie). Sure, cute-looking children doing cute-looking dances on stage can look very, er, cute but (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) when it comes to these TV dance shows, the kids cry as much as they dance — and that’s deeply distressing. They cry because the formats of the shows are made for crying. There are eliminations. Some children’s performances are not as good as other children’s performances. Consequently the poor kids have no option but to weep. Their parents, sitting in the audience, also start sniffling the moment things turn iffy. The judges break down (this after passing comments like “Thoda energy aur hona chahiye tha” or “Apne form pe concentrate karo”). It becomes like a big fat cry fest. I almost feel like joining in on all the crying: why should we put little kids (some of them as young as six-seven years) through all this on national TV?
Clearly many of these children are very talented / great at dancing, but they seem to have been pushed on to these shows by their rather over-eager parents.
Most distressing of all is the fact that many of the kids end up executing fairly ‘adult’ dance moves matched by ‘adult’ facial expressions (coquettish, flirtatious, raunchy etc). When Lara Dutta does an item number in the film Khakhee, dancing to Aisa jadoo, it’s fine. She looks hot and sexy, so does the dance. But a small child in a frock trying to mimic those expressions and moves?
When Salman Khan works out to get a six pack abs, which he shows off in several shirtless shots, it’s okay. But when a small boy pulls up his T shirt to show off his abs (even as Salman beams at him)?
It can’t be that difficult to exercise some sort of control on the kind of songs and dances the children (or is it their parents?) choose.
A few new serials have begun on the entertainment channels, of which the latest is something called Thoda Hai Bas Thode Ki Zaroorat Hai (Colors). It is set in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park, and is about a middle class Maharashtrian family. I’m not an expert on what such a family would be like but the depiction seems more authentic than is usually the case in our serials: The bhabhi is called ‘vahini;’ her father-in-law goes to the maidan to play cricket; the family lives in a modest house; the younger members of the house sleep in the drawing room — this is Mumbai, remember; the mother-in-law, called Aiee (played by Marathi actress Neena Kulkarni) is thrifty (squeezing out the last bit of toothpaste from a tube by pressing the tube with a rolling pin) and so on and so forth. Now if only the story were to develop nicely… Ideally, if the serial were to take a bitter-sweet slice-of-life approach, it would be perfect. But screechy melodrama rules soaps and serials at the moment, so I’m not very hopeful.
Take the Sony serial Maan Rahe Tera Pita, for example. It’s about a daughter who is devoted to her father. But the poor girl is constantly tearful because every time her father appears, he shouts and screams (often at her), and generally behaves like a completely mad person (Pramod Moutho, hamming it to the hilt). Tears and trauma without pause.
And finally. I believe Star Plus is going to appear in a new, ‘refreshed’ avatar very soon — with new branding and (presumably) new shows. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for all of us.
Immediately of course, what’s in store for us is football. Lots and lots of it.