I don’t know if Rakhi Sawant got the sachcha pyaar she was searching for or not in her swayamvar, but she certainly got very good ratings — and unprecedented airtime on news channels. I watched the finale — totally in the line of duty of course, I hasten to add.
It was an awkward, creaky two-and-a-half hour episode, without the ritzy glamour one would have expected from this kind of show. Everything was just a bit tinselly and tacky — whether it was the shiny stage or the seating arrangements for the guests (by the way, who on earth were they? I mean, they clearly did not include any members of Rakhi’s family or friends. So were they what the TV trade calls ‘crowd,’ arranged by people who supply the faceless ‘crowd’ that sits in the studios for shows like Sach Ka Saamna, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa etc? Or was it all NDTV Imagine staff — doing their bit in the line of duty?)
There was quite a bit that was unexpected in that final episode — like Rakhi and her three unidentified companions suddenly breaking into tuneless prayer, for instance.
The only thing that was not unexpected was Rakhi’s choice of the NRI businessman, Elesh Parujanwala. Incidentally, neither of the rejected suitors (or their families) looked at all put out by Rakhi’s choice. All of them danced quite merrily when Rakhi garlanded Elesh (is it possible that they were secretly quite relieved?)
I was certainly relieved when the episode ended. But little did I know that there was going to be wall-to-wall Rakhi (with fiancé) on the news channels, specially old faithful, Headlines Today.
So what do the high TRPs, and the saturation coverage of the swayamvar prove? That Rakhi Sawant is, as Headlines Today, said, India’s Entertainer No. 1? That’s probably pushing it a bit, but there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that TV audiences find Rakhi entertaining and are happy to watch her, even if she’s role-playing the sensitive, misunderstood, coy bride-to-be looking for sachcha pyaar.
NDTV Imagine is planning to do another swayamvar, but they might want to look at Rakhi Ka Break-Up (if the cynics are proved right, that is; naturally we all wish her and her sachcha pyaar a long and happy married life).
But if you ask me what was the most riveting, the most exciting show I saw this past week, I will have to answer that it was not on any of the entertainment channels, English or Hindi. The most spectacular show I saw was on Animal Planet and featured Snakemaster Austin Stevens.
Austin is a herpetologist and loves venomous snakes the way little girls love teddy bears and Barbie dolls.
In the episode I saw, Austin travels thousands of kilometres across Africa, looking for the continent’s deadliest snakes.
I watched frozen on my chair as Austin coiled all sorts of poisonous reptiles around his body / caught their tails and held them as they flailed about / squeezed open their mouths to show us their fangs / got bitten by one of them and had to be rushed to hospital so that he wouldn’t die (alarmingly, he continued to hold forth on the nature of snakes even as he was lying down in a hospital bed and being treated) / took photographs of snakes as they swayed a few inches away from his camera, their hoods open menacingly.
And all this against the most stunning landscape imaginable — vast arid expanses stretching out for miles with an equally vast sky arching above. If you haven’t seen the show yet, please do. Not to be missed. (Also full of the most fascinating information about snakes).
And finally. I saw a couple of episodes of Star Plus’s new show, Sajan Ghar Jaana Hai and NDTV Imagine’s Meera.
The first is about a sweet and innocent village belle and the pardesi who strays into her gaon. I guess the story will unfold slowly from here on.
The second serial is about Meerabai, Krishna’s lifelong devotee. We’re still at her childhood, so it’s going to be a long haul. (I wish someone would think of making a TV series around Kiran Nagarkar’s magnificent novel, Cuckold, which is about the man Meera was married to. Tough if your competitor happens to be a god).