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Messy secrets in exhibitionist foreign format

tv Updated: Jul 11, 2009 00:52 IST
Poonam Saxena
Poonam Saxena
Hindustan Times
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While watching the telecast of the latest IIFA Awards on Star Plus, I couldn’t help but wonder about many things. Uppermost in my mind was one question of burning importance. Has anyone figured out why, the instant you put Bollywood stars on stage or thrust a mike in front of them, they start speaking with an accent? At the Macau IIFA event, everyone, from Abhishek Bachchan to Hrithik Roshan to Priyanka Chopra, suddenly, inexplicably, lapsed into weird American-type accents. I am all for globalisation but this is going a bit too far. (Do they think it’s cool to say ‘worrrrld’ instead of ‘world’ or ‘worrrrked’ instead of ‘worked’? Poor deluded souls. Somebody should tell them, we feel embarrassed for them).

What was quite cool however was the way the hosts for the evening (Boman Irani and Ritesh Deshmukh) took everyone’s trip. They truly got into their characters (whether it was Anil Kapoor in Slumdog Millionaire or Shah Rukh Khan in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi) and did funny little skits which brought the house down. This seems to be becoming quite a fixture at award functions these days: hosts making fun of pretty much everyone in Bollywood. I haven’t seen too many holy cows being spared.

Just three more questions about the IIFA event: (a) Why were all the big stars mysteriously absent? (b) Why was Shreyas Talpade in a shiny black suit that looked like it had been cut from one of those large pieces of satin you find in a props trunk? (c) Why can’t Sonam Kapoor dance to save her life?

Two big new reality shows are starting next week — Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao on Sony, based on an international format I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here and Sach Ka Saamna, also based on a foreign format, The Moment of Truth.

Both shows promise to take viewers into uncharted territory — Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao transports them to, well, a jungle (in Malaysia), where the celebrity participants apparently have to share living quarters with cuddly creatures like snakes and lizards, and survive on meager rations and perform all kinds of tough tasks.

The second show (Sach Ka Saamna on Star Plus) goes into even more dangerous territory — people’s guiltiest secrets, most painful memories, festering resentments, the works. I saw a preview of the show and couldn’t believe my eyes — or ears. Ordinary Indian men and women (and a smattering of celebs) come into the studio, sit under the spotlight and answer intensely personal questions, ranging from their sexual infidelities to family traumas and crises. Why do they do it? Why would anyone want to confess, for example, that her husband was an alcoholic? Is it because of the chance to win some money (since there is money to be won on the show)? Is it the desire to be on TV, whatever the cost? Is it because they are exhibitionists and perversely want to expose their messy secrets on national television?

And why would audiences want to watch all this? Well, I guess because — let’s do some sach ka saamna of our own — it can be disturbingly, compulsively voyeuristic viewing. (Why am I not surprised that this show premiered on Fox network?)

But it is certainly a first for Indian television and I’ll be very very curious to see how it does.

There is one more revelation in the show — the host, Rajeev Khandelwal. He is low-key, gentle, and actually manages the impossible feat of asking the most uncomfortable and probing questions without sounding offensive. Amazing.

And finally. Star News had a sweet nostalgic show on 25 years of Hum Log, where they interviewed many members of the cast – Vinod Nagpal who played Basesar Ram, Jayshree Arora (Bhagwanti), Rajesh Puri (Lallu), Seema Bhargava (Badki), Abhinav Chaturvedi (Nanhe) and others. In fact, Abhinav did a first-class take on the way Ashok Kumar would introduce each episode of the serial, with those characteristic gusty sighs and colloquial turns of phrase. The same day Doordarshan too did a salute to India’s pioneering soap about a middle class family with its totally believable, close-to-life characters. There was an interesting interview with Vinod Nagpal, who spoke about Hum Log with much affection and insight.

We were shown clips from the serial and it seemed to belong to another world altogether. Which of course it did.