I had such a sense of déjà vu watching Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir’s briefing on television. It seems that Pakistanis come to India only because they get an opportunity to abuse India on Indian soil. Also, if Bashir thinks that the dossier that India has handed over to Pakistan is ‘literature’, I’d love to know what exactly his definition of literature is (on second thoughts, I'd rather not know; I do value my sanity).
The happier news this week was Sachin Tendulkar scoring his fabulous 200 runs against South Africa in the Gwalior ODI. Ecstatic TV channels played clips of his record-breaking innings again and again, while anchors all but fell over themselves in quivering excitement. But hey, this is cricket and this is Sachin, so the collective delirium was understandable. And it wasn't just cricketers and sports journalists who gushed uncontrollably.
Headlines Today got reactions from actresses Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty (presumably because they’re both IPL team owners) and Rani Mukherjee (presumably because she played a cricketer who kept invoking ‘Sachin paaji’ in her film, Dil Bole Hadippa). All the actresses made appropriate noises, except for a rather, er, odd comment by Shilpa. When asked if she would like Sachin in her team (Rajasthan Royals), the recently-married Shilpa giggled and replied, “It’s like asking me if I want to eat chicken biryani!” Then she hastily added, “I love chicken biryani!” Yes, maybe, but…
While on cricket, the IPL season is going to begin in just a few days and — despite the fact that, unlike the rest of the country, I’m not a fanatic cricket fan — I'm delighted. And that’s because whenever the IPL matches start, soaps and serials get sidelined, and anything which succeeds in weaning viewers away from the current crop of serials has my whole-hearted support.
Every time a new serial begins, I keep hoping that perhaps this time I’ll be pleasantly surprised. But no such luck. Let me give you just one example (and there are many many more): Star Plus has begun a new show called Behnein, about four sisters who are suddenly orphaned. As if that was not bad enough, the siblings also have to deal with the same old (sigh) nasty, scheming women out to destroy their happiness. Why are all the serials currently on air about the unending suffering of their women protagonists? Why is this suffering invariably inflicted by other women who are so malignant they would make even Lalita Pawar (the bad mother-in-law of Hindi movies for the longest time) look benign? Why do these serials celebrate the fact that bad things keep happening to good people? Why is there no respite ever?
And the biggest mystery: why do viewers like watching this drivel? At the risk of repeating myself yet again — once Ekta Kapoor's K serials ended, we all heaved a sigh of relief. But the current crop of serials is so horrendous, it almost makes you want to say, come back Tulsi, all is forgiven. Even the awful Virani parivaar seems better in comparison. (Not really, but you can see the depths of my despair). The only half-way decent serials (the Yashraj shows on Sony) don’t have viewers. So no light at the end of the tunnel. Only gloom and doom.
And finally. In Rahul Dulhania Le Jayega, Rahul Mahajan is doing, in his words, “home visits”. He’s dropping into the homes of the four or five girls he’s shortlisted, where he’s being welcomed as if he's already their damaad. My jaw dropped as I heard one of the mothers tell him that she was the one who urged her daughter to participate in the show. Ambitious, star-struck mamas never go out of fashion, do they?