After two tranquil no-TV weeks (the closest I came to TV was seeing — not watching — television screens at two airports), I switched on my set at home and was greeted by unprecedented, deafening clamour. But it was a very welcome sort of clamour: the sound of sheer ecstasy. It was as if India had won the cricket World Cup. For once, I didn’t mind the usual TV irritants — clips being played in a constant loop (I think all of us could have watched MS Dhoni’s match-winning six on a non-stop loop) or reporters talking gibberish (in this case, excusable; they were probably as delirious and unhinged as everyone else).
The hangover continued well into the next day. It was difficult not to be draped over the TV set, just to see how everyone else was celebrating (as it turned out, they were doing more or less the same thing — screaming dementedly and jumping up and down as if they were one of those children’s bouncy castles). Or just to wait breathlessly for a glimpse of/soundbyte from some cricketer or the other, even if all of them in unison thanked and dedicated the World Cup victory to their gurus/parents/Sachin Tendulkar/God (the last two being the same).
It was also a relief to play ostrich-in-the-sand for a while and pretend that the thousands of scams running into thousands of crores had not happened; to just feel happy watching TV.
One also had to remind oneself that there were other new-ish shows on TV to be watched. There’s Comedy Ka Maha Muqabla on Star Plus, with four teams lead by four film and TV stars: Arshad Warsi, Shreyas Talpade, Raveena Tandon, Shekhar Suman. Television has emerged as the most profitable source of income for anyone in showbiz, whether he or she is a reigning superstar/failed star/has-been star/small-time star/very small-time star/ageing star/underage star/ only vaguely a star/any other kind of star. Everyone is welcome. They can be hosts or judges or mentors or reality show participants; and all these roles (by all accounts) come with seriously hefty pay cheques. So as far as showbiz celebs are concerned, what’s not to like about being on TV?
No wonder the quartet of Arshad and company appear to be in such high spirits on Comedy Ka Maha Muqabla — it’s not only the jokes, such as they are. The participating comedians on the show include veterans such as Raju Srivastava as well as some newcomers. As is the case in most of these shows, some of the acts are genuinely funny while others are a bit ho-hum. But worth watching for the good moments.
Colors has begun Guinness World Records Ab India Todega, where — as is evident from the title of the show — Indian participants attempt to break world records. Again, a movie star (in this case, a once-hot, now slightly-lukewarm star, Preity Zinta) is the anchor, to add the requisite glamour and celeb sheen (even if the glow is slightly on the wane). Preity is confident and ebullient; the show itself is a bit bizarre. Think about it — there are records for things like how many candles can be extinguished with the swish of a ponytail (22 at last count, that’s a record). There is also a slightly bemused-looking gentleman from the international Guiness World Records, who flags off every attempt with “Ek do teen… for the record!” Watch the show on an idle evening, when you’re not doing much else. But I guess there aren’t going to be too many of those. The IPL is here, you see.