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Chasing the Bollywood obsession

The real problem is not that you don’t want to see B'wood news and trivia. It’s that when you switch on a news channel, you get Bollywood instead of news, writes Poonam Saxena.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2008, 20:04 IST
Poonam Saxena
Poonam Saxena
Hindustan Times

Do you sometimes feel you know more about Bollywood than you do aboutyour local MLAs? Of course you do — in fact, you probably know more about the film industry’s first family (Kapoors? Bachchans? Khans Inc?) than you know about your own extended family. And are there also moments when you feel you simply can’t digest one more piece of Bollywood trivia? (Yes! Yes!) That if you hear one more word about how many grams of weight Kareena Kapoor has lost or the latest sartorial horror Vidya Balan was seen in, you’ll willingly swap your TV set for a tea set, sofa set, or any kind of set?

The real problem is not that you don’t want to see Bollywood news and trivia on television. The problem is that when you switch on a news channel, you get Bollywood instead of news. (Nor do you get it in a back-of-the-book kind of way, it’s more often than not headlines news). If you switch on a general entertainment channel, you get your soaps and serials but you also get a healthy dose of Bollywood. Ditto for the music channels.

So, it’s probably a good idea that there’s now a new channel totally dedicated to Bollywood — Imagine Showbiz. (Unfortunately I don’t think this will mean that all the other channels do away with their Bollywood obsession. So don’t expect stories about Rakhi Sawant’s fight with her boyfriend to go off the air anytime soon on news channels). However, for Bollywood junkies, the channel is a great idea. If you’re a fast food junkie, all the better, because Imagine Showbiz is your quintessential snacking channel. The programmes are short and snippety. One lot of snippets is dedicated to the fashion quotient of film stars (“Apni green T-shirt mein Saif Ali Khan bahut smart lag rahe hain” or “Golden bag ke saath Bipasha bahut chic lag rahi hain”). In another show, called Angrezi Mein Kaise Kehte Hain, you see famous scenes and then you see the same scenes again with the same dialogues, except that this time they’ve been translated into English. Maybe these English dialogues are supposed to sound really hilarious, but that’s not how it came across when I saw the show (they had taken the scene from Deewar where Amitabh Bachchan gives Shashi Kapoor a long list of reasons why he won’t sign some paper). Then there’s a show called New And Improved where you see the way movie stars have transformed themselves over the years (Karisma Kapoor from Prem Qaidi to Raja Hindustani). And so on.

It’s all completely mindless, and after watching for about half an hour you begin to feel quite brain-dead. But as I said, if you’re a Bollywood fast-food junkie, watch it. If you’re a serious Bollywood fan, though, stay away. While we’re on the subject of films, I have to say that the film channel offerings on TV are getting better and better. I’m not wild about dubbed movies and the new movie channel, Firangi, seems to be just that (foreign films dubbed into Hindi) but, well, I’m sure there’s a market for it. But the World Movies channel is most welcome. In any case, many of us have always been avid HBO-Star Movies-Set Pix watchers. And I’ve also caught up on some good old Hindi movies on the Zee movie channels, specially late at night. The old movies-late night preference is simply because they come with virtually no ad breaks.When channels show new films at primetime (or close to primetime), the entire movie-viewing experience is destroyed because of the avalanche of ads every 10 minutes.

So by all means let’s have Bollywood on television for those who want to know everything about Bollywood, including which restaurant Ranbir Kapoor took Deepika Padukone to for dinner. But for those of us who want to see news, can we have some real news please?

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