I switched on the TV with some anticipation. Thursday was the day, we were told, when we would (finally) see a grown-up all-new Anandi in Balika Vadhu (Colors). In order to create a buzz around this momentous ‘time jump’ (as it is called in TV land), the channel had launched a contest where viewers were asked to choose which of three candidates they would like to see as the grown-up Anandi. But after watching the special one-hour episode with quivering anticipation, all I saw was a quivering shot of a young girl in the distance at the end of the show (the all-new Anandi, I presume). Most of the episode was taken up tears, the No. 1 favourite of scriptwriters across all channels and all soaps. Everyone cried all through:
Jagiya (Anandi’s child husband) cried while standing forlornly in the puja room, because he couldn’t bear being separated from Anandi. (For those who came in late, Anandi has been sent back to her mother’s place till she grows up, because since she and her husband are at a ‘delicate’ age, she might become pregnant if they stayed together, and she’s too young for motherhood. At least, this is what I’ve been given to understand since I am unable and unwilling to follow the serial on a daily basis).
Jagiya’s mother Sumitra cried silently (in her usual fashion, nibbling tremulously at one corner of her pallu) while watching Jagiya crying.
Anandi cried while cooking, while looking at Jagiya’s photograph, while looking at Jagiya in the flesh and blood (he runs away to meet her, and yes, he also cries when he finally meets her).
Anandi’s mother cried while thinking of her husband (who is in jail), and while looking at Anandi crying.
I almost broke down too, mainly because I watched for one hour and never saw the all-new Anandi (as promised). Reality shows, as we know, have so far hunted for the best singers, dancers, comedians, models, VJs etc. Now Star One is hunting for the best magician. Judges include Jackie Shroff (who could do with a little magic himself to look like he used to in his hero days; Jackie circa 2010 looks more villain than hero). The other judge is international magician Franz Harary, who at least looks the part with his shock of blond hair (but mostly because you know he is a magician). After magicians, what next? Maybe channel executives should draw up a list of ‘professions’ and create shows around them — imagine a show that discovers the most dedicated lady-who-lunches, or the most committed Page 3 person, or the actress who has the maximum number of shoes (that’ll be a tough one, I can tell you; eat your heart out Imelda Marcos). The possibilities are truly infinite (I’m available for consultation, people).
And finally. One of the best (and worst) things you can see on news channels is unadulterated footage. In most cases, you don’t even need the frenzied voice of the over-excited reporter in the background. The images say it all. Congresswoman Ms Jyoti Kumari’s gamla-breaking binge in Bihar was one such example. You couldn’t help but watch mesmerised as, surrounded by a ring of cameramen, Ms Kumari seized and then vigorously smashed one gamla after another on the ground. Later she appeared on Face The Nation (CNN-IBN), and, eyes closed meditatively, told Sagarika Ghose that she’d broken the gamlas for her own “defence.” (Were the gamlas going to attack her? Did the ground have some evil intentions towards her?) Sagarika asked viewers whether we needed 33 per cent reservation for flowerpot-throwing women politicians. Seventy per cent said ‘No.’
But what about the remaining 30 per cent? (Gamla-haters, all of them).