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Odd tales of music, mystery and horror

tv Updated: Jul 07, 2012 00:16 IST
Poonam Saxena
Poonam Saxena
Hindustan Times
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Indian Idol 6 has chosen its nine finalists (the tenth one is still in limbo), but should we call it Punjabi Idol instead, since four of the nine participants are from Punjab? We also have a candidate from Mumbai — and judge Asha Bhonsle went ‘Jai Maharashtra!’ after hearing Kaushik Deshpande sing, just as she went “Sat Sri Akal!’ after hearing the “chhote Sardarji “or the 17-year-old Devendra Pal Singh from Ludhiana sing. There are two participants from Bihar (‘Jai Bihar?’) and one each from Delhi and Cuttack.

I know Indian Idol is not the Lok Sabha and it’s idiotic (and unfair) to think that a show of this nature should have representation from every part of the country, but still, it’s a little odd not to have even one singer from the south. Or the north east, one of Indian Idol’s most fertile hunting grounds in the past.

If the singers are good, should it matter? No. (But somehow, it does feel a little odd). Zee, which has recently started doing slightly better on the rating charts than it used to, has introduced a weekend horror series, Fear Files. To me, it looks like a bhoot-pret version of Crime Patrol. No, there’s no Anoop Soni-type anchor as yet, but all the episodes are reconstructions of allegedly real-life paranormal encounters. To give it a ring of authenticity, Fear Files also features interviews with the actual people who claim that these strange, scary things happened to them.

At the end of every episode, there is a paranormal expert called Dr Mehra Shrikhande, who holds forth about atmas and suchlike in a dead serious (if you’ll pardon the execrable pun) manner, without even a trace of scpeticism or irony. Do some people believe they have had paranormal encounters? Yes. Does this mean that we should believe bhoots and spirits exist? No. But does the show present these experiences as real? Yes. This, then, is the grey, rather problematic part of the show for any rational viewer.

Fear Files does run a difficult-to-decipher disclaimer of some sort at the beginning of each episode, but I doubt if any viewers bother to read it (the truth is that no one reads disclaimers; they’re only meant for the lawyers). If you discount this problematic issue, then Fear Files is actually done surprisingly well.

Though it has every horror show cliché (from doors that mysteriously open and shut to sinister-looking servants creeping up on you and scaring the daylights out of you, from strange sounds to stranger visions), the show has a kind of spare minimalism about it, which is fresh and very effective. The shoots are on actual locations, which makes a world of difference to the look and feel of the episodes. And finally.

I saw the first episode in the second season of Sherlock (BBC Entertainment), where we see the return of a contemporary, very clever, somewhat arrogant and supercilious Sherlock along with his blogger friend and loyal assistant Watson. The tousle-haired private detective comes up against a sexy dominatrix adversary who manages to beat him (execrable pun number two is from the show itself). But there are several twists and turns: Sherlock turns the tables on her, but he’s sort of seduced by her as well, and then in the end there’s a big (but totally predictable) twist. Honest confession: there were parts where my head was spinning, I was so confused by the plot. Thank God for the English subtitles. n poonamsaxena@hindustantimes.com