How exciting is it to see someone scoop up live worms (from a big bowl full of wriggling pink worms) with his mouth and then spit them out on someone else’s head? Well, I watched (if you can call squeezing your eyes almost shut as ‘watching’), wincing all through.
After the person had emptied the bowl, he raised his head to reveal a face liberally smeared with a kind of furry pink goo; and the girl on whose head he had spat out the worms had a few stray worms wandering over her face too. I thought I was going to throw up. I also thought both of them should have got a bravery medal (think about it: would you pick up icky worms with your mouth? What if you were a vegetarian?). But Akshay Kumar scowled at them and scolded: “You took four and a half minutes to do that, not good enough, aap ki timing aur achchi ho sakti thi” or words to that effect. The two contestants looked chastened and humbly agreed.
Well, that’s the latest season of Khatron Ke Khiladi (Colors), the desi version of Fear Factor. Akshay Kumar, in rugged outdoor gear (but why oh why must he wear black and white check trousers?) plays the stern anchor — not without a certain earthy sense of humour though — who encourages his 13 haseenayen to perform their stunts as best as they can. The action stunts are quite scary (plenty of water stunts where you have to hold your breath while you do complicated things like untie little flags and then tie them up again) and the creepy crawly stunts are quite revolting. In the first season of KKK, the idea of 13 glamorous showbiz girls doing amazing stunts was a novelty. This time round, though the stunts are harder, the novelty has worn off. Also, by now we’ve seen this cockroaches-on-the-face stuff in other shows too (like the recent Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao on Sony), so though we might still be going “Oh god, how can he/she do it?” we’re not that gobsmacked any more.
But if you are watching, you may as well be told how each contestant’s performance compares to the others’. At least you’d get a sense of the competition (X did it in one minute, but Y took four minutes). As of now, the girls march in one after the other in a seemingly unending procession to do their stuff and only when they’ve all finished does Akshay tell us who did how. Also, at one-and-a-half hours, the show is a bit too long.
We’re all familiar with the way news channels often go on and on and on with a particular story, giving it maximum coverage. However, there are times when you want that kind of coverage on a particular story, but don’t get it; you find channels treating it like any other ‘usual’ big story.
A case in point is the horrifying stampede in a Delhi school in which some girls died and several other schoolchildren were injured. Wanting to know what had happened, I switched on the TV on Thursday afternoon at around 2.45 pm. Aaj Tak, NDTV India and Star News were showing Saas Bahu Aur Betiyaan, Saas Bahu Aur Sansar and Saas Bahu Aur Saazish. IBN 7 had their show, Zindagi Live, on air. NDTV 24x7 was showing, if I remember right, Night Out and CNN-IBN had E Tonight. Zee News was the only channel reporting on the event at that time (Times Now had a short report, but their story on Gautam Gambhir, telecast a little later, was much longer).
You could argue that I would have seen reports on the stampede once the pre-slotted shows were over. However, many of the channels were not even scrolling the news as a headline at the bottom of the screen.
The incident happened on Thursday morning. But if I didn’t know it had happened and I’d switched on my TV on Thursday afternoon, I may still not have known.
And this in the time of 24x7 news!