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TV: exploring patriotism or exploiting it?

tv Updated: Jan 21, 2014 17:20 IST
Kavita Awaasthi
Kavita Awaasthi
Hindustan Times
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Republic Day (January 26) is coming up.

The occasion, along with Gandhi Jayanti and Independence Day, sees TV channels dishing out an overdose of patriotic films.

TV shows, however, don’t do it as much. One guesses running the same old films is easier than weaving something patriotic into a fiction show. Sometimes though, it does feature.

For instance, a fight on the border shown in Rangrasiya, saw the hero save the national flag (and therefore, the day) from being disgraced. But talk of shows in the patriotism/history-of-India genre, and Shyam Benegal’s Bharat Ek Khoj leads the pack.

The show had commendable actors, good production value and narrated a significant part of Indian history in just 53 episodes. The veteran director is now set to bring the story behind the making of our constitution, in a show called Samvidhaan (to air next week onward).

While Benegal has set a high standard for historical shows, the same, unfortunately, cannot always be said of other fiction shows. We’ve had shows based on Rani Lakshmibai, Akbar (Jodha Akbar), Maharana Pratap, and Prithviraj Chauhan, but most have convenient disclaimers to avoid objections and protests.

Historical facts take a backseat in most of these shows, as a dramatised tale made fit for TV consumption takes precedence. Melodrama, romance, suspense and action are added to make it attractive.

Of course, all shows are chasing TRPs, but it’s being done at the expense of facts, which get diluted. With TV being a popular medium, kids (and adults) are often influenced by historical shows, and might assume the facts shown on TV to be the absolute truth.

So we might have a generation whose version of history is based on what they see on TV (and in films) and not from textbooks.

On the other hand, the comedy show, I Love My India, explores another cliché – of how a bunch of NRI kids learn to love their country. For obvious reasons, the show flopped.

Watching re-runs of Kay Kay Menon-starrer Pradhanmantri makes one yearn for shows that not just have patriotic flavour, but some real substance as well. We wish there were more such shows.