Think reality shows. Every format we’re familiar with has been done to death by now. Which is why entertainment channels have now moved beyond even death. NDTV Imagine’s latest reality show is called Raaz Pichhle Janam Ka, and seeks to explain your problems/fears in this life by going back into your past life.
Here’s what happens: you lie down on a couch and go into a sort of trance (or just makes sure you keep your eyes tightly shut all through) and answer the therapist’s questions as if you’re talking in your sleep. I saw the opening episode and was a bit puzzled by the therapist’s line of questioning. She sounded more like an irate travel agent/airline executive than a past life therapist. The lady on the couch (someone called Swati) who had to try and remember her past life, said — in that trance-like state — that she was seeing images of herself on a plane.
“What is the flight number?” rapped out the therapist. “Where is the flight going? What is written on your boarding card? How many people are there on the flight? How many children? How many of your friends? Is there any famous person on your flight?” And so on and so forth. (As I said, clearly someone with an avid interest in the travel trade). Well, guess what — Swati not only promptly answered each and every question, she also did so in great detail.
It finally turned out that in her past life she was one Mr D Singh, an Indian sailor, who boarded Air India flight number 101 to New York, which sadly crashed in the Alps in 1966 (“Where did you crash?” asked the therapist sharply. “Mont Blanc,” Swati mumbled obligingly). And yes, it also turned out that there was a very famous person on that flight — Dr Homi Bhabha.
After it was all over, Swati said she now understood why she’s so scared of flying. The show’s host, actor Ravi Kissen, asked her if she intended to find the family of the late Dr D Singh and visit them and Swati said she did.
Frankly, by the time Raaz Pichhle Janam Ka ended, I was practically in a trance-like state myself. One thing is for sure — NDTV Imagine has cobbled together a very dedicated research team (look at all the research it had to do on Flight 101). And from what I could make out of the following episodes, the channel has also put together a rather, er, imaginative scriptwriting team.
Of course there are some people who would never need to go on to a show such as Raaz Picchle Janam Ka, because they have no overpowering problems in their present lives. Like Sachin Tendulkar who is so successful and revered that even God might get a complex.
So when Mukesh and Nita Ambani had a special function to felicitate Sachin on his 20 years in cricket, everybody who was anybody in Mumbai turned up and the event (held in a proper auditorium in the Ambanis’ house) was naturally televised. Shah Rukh Khan read out a very sweet poem (a kind of Ode to Sachin) written by his daughter, Asha Bhonsle sang for Sachin, Aamir Khan said Sachin was the greatest cricketer in the world etc etc. Sachin himelf looked quite shy/overwhelmed in the face of all this effusiveness.
And finally. In his evening discussion-based shows, it is very disconcerting to see Arnab Goswami looking out of the TV set when he’s interrogating studio guests who are sitting in exactly the opposite direction. Or has he got some secret guests we don’t know about who are mysteriously seated outside the frame?