TV news channels are finally in election mode — and as a result, we’re getting to see some rather, er, extraordinary television. Star News had an election debate featuring candidates from the Congress and the BJP in Delhi’s Gole market constituency. I call it debate for lack of any other word, but it was unlike any debate that I’ve ever seen. The BJP candidate (Vijay Jolly, I think) was leaping all over the stage, constantly yelling, not giving his increasingly frustrated opponent a chance to say more than a dozen words (that too in snatches). Mr Jolly was talking (read shouting) about the many problems that the citizens of Gole Market faced — such as the lack of clean drinking water. He got some salwar kameez-clad housewives (who couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear, so delighted were they to be on national television) to pour water out of various pots to show viewers how dirty it was.
We could barely see the water, forget whether it was clean or not, but how did that matter to Mr Jolly? Balancing one of the pots on his hand, he jumped up and down, shouting non-stop, “Paani hai? Paani hai? Paani hai? Yeh halat hai! Yeh halat hai! Yeh halat hai!” His agitated Congress counterpart tried in vain to get in a word but Mr Jolly ignored him and kept up his chant (“Yeh halat hai! Yeh halat hai!”). Throughout all this, the show’s completely ineffectual moderator Deepak Chaurasia would suddenly raise one arm in the air and then freeze (as if he was playing ‘Statue!’)
As I said, extraordinary television.
This column is being written before the last episode of Bigg Boss 2, so I don’t know what transpired in that episode, but I do know that Rahul Mahajan was all over the place in the run-up to the finale, giving interviews to every channel. And I actually understood what he was saying (I had no such luck while he was in the house).
Anyhow, no matter who won finally, the prize for most bizarre housemate should go to the inarticulate Rahul Mahajan, for everything he did in the house, from his mumbled romantic conversations with Monica Bedi to his enthusiasm for cleaning toilets (he did a lot of both). “Love me or hate me but you can’t ignore me!” he declared on all the channels. Try us, Rahul. (Incidentally, when he appeared on Times Now — along with the blotchy-cheeked Rakhi Vijan — he announced that if he could participate in the international Big Brother, why should he participate in the next season of Bigg Boss?) At this rate, Big Brother will end up like a Bombay B-grade party.
The sensational double murder in Meerut hogged vast amounts of space on news channels. Aaj Tak had the most cringe-inducing dramatic reconstruction of the crime, first in the form of lurid illustrations and then a really graphic depiction with real actors and actresses. (Also, after blithely showing us visuals of the two girls suspected to be behind the murder all day on the first day, some of the news channels suddenly started blurring out their faces the next day. A bit late, don’t you think?)
And finally. Sahara Samay had a story discussing how much money different actresses are going to be paid for dancing in hotels on New Year’s Eve. If I remember correctly, Bipasha has the highest fee (one and a half crore), followed by Katrina Kaif (one crore). Actresses like Ameesha Patel are positively poor (only 25 lakhs). Even Rakhi Sawant does better (40 lakhs). All these lakhs being bandied about as though they were mere hundreds — no wonder auditions for anything connected with Bollywood are always bursting at the seams.
Talent show, anyone?