It’s a double whammy — election fever plus IPL fever. News channels are going round and round trying to figure out who is going to get how many seats — the Congress, the BJP, Third Front, Fourth Front (maybe a Fifth and Sixth have also been launched unbeknownst to us, comprising of stragglers who haven’t yet squeezed into any of the current political formations).
Aaj Tak ran a special programme called Bol India Bol, where 13,000 people in 27 cities (we were told this at least 27 times; if it had been 13,000 times, I may not have survived to write this column) responded to a series of questions (what are the main issues before the electorate etc).
The piquant result of the survey (not opinion poll, we were told, also at least 27 times) was that a majority of the respondents wanted the Congress to form the next government but also wanted L.K. Advani as the Prime Minister. How on earth was that possible? The mind boggles. Clearly, the collective minds of the expert panel and the guests also boggled — no one knew what to say or how to explain this paradox.
Joota-chappal programmes were also ubiquitous. The latest to be hit by a flying missile was the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, L.K. Advani. In this case it was a slipper (a khadau, to be more precise), not very clearly visible on its trajectory towards Mr Advani.
That’s why many news channels very kindly showed its progress in slow motion, even circling the offending object as it sailed majestically towards the dais. After it fell (nowhere near Mr Advani), we were shown the mandatory close-up of khadau-on-carpet. In all the joota-chappal programmes, most studio guests tut-tutted about this new form of protest and advised disgruntled elements to pursue proper avenues of action.
Wish someone could enforce that on politicians too since their speeches — faithfully broadcast on TV — are so full of toxic waste, the Yamuna river would get a complex.
The IPL is on the verge of starting and so all the teams had a kind of road show in Cape Town. Sitting in open buses, they drove down the streets of the city, waving enthusiastically. I was a little mystified as to who they were waving and blowing kisses to so extravagantly. Could it be to the thin straggly crowds on the sidewalks? Oh dear, what a fall.
Now if they had been in India, they would have been waving to thousands and lakhs of people, all swarming the streets and straining against police barriers. The team anthems would have played loudly and continuously. Everyone would have danced on the road. Which reminds me — the hottest track on TV right now is the Jeetbo Korbo Lorbo Re song of the Kolkata Knight Riders with Shah Rukh Khan playing a leading role. It’s got an Africa-type look and feel, and ends on a slightly, er, bloody note, with SRK feasting on some, er, food.
But there has been one sour note in the middle of all the IPL hoopla — M.S. Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh’s no-show at the Padma awards in Rashtrapati Bhavan. Neo Cricket had a programme called Dial C For Cricket, where viewers were asked to respond to their behaviour. Not surprisingly, almost everyone slammed the two cricketers, with adman Prahlad Kakkar saying that it showed lack of good breeding. Yes, phone-ins often bring in some brutally frank reactions.
And finally. Colors has actually managed to be No. 1 this week, pushing Star Plus to the — gasp! — second position.
The most popular shows on Colors are Balika Vadhu (where everyone has been weeping non-stop for several weeks; the flood of tears has been partially arrested only now with the appearance of the cheerful Farida Jalal, who plays Surekha Sikri’s sister), Jai Shri Krishna (cute baby who is a god indulges in childish mischief and miracles), Na Aana Is Des Lado (a Mafioso-type village auntyji believes in female infanticide) and Uttaran (rich versus poor serial, where the protagonist is a little girl with endearing buck teeth).
That’s the winning line-up. Draw your own conclusions!