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Serials are sucking out our happiness

If you switched on the TV news channels to find out what was happening in Aarushi murder case, this is what you would have got: non-stop chatter about everything except the questions you wanted answers to know, writes Poonam Saxena.
Hindustan Times | By Poonam Saxena
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2008 12:51 PM IST

If television news channels can’t even deliver genuine Breaking News properly, of what use are they to anyone? On Friday afternoon, Dr Dinesh Talwar was arrested for the murder of his 14-year-old daughter Aarushi. But if you switched on the television news channels to find out what was happening, this is what you would have got: non-stop chatter about everything except the questions you wanted answers to (why did he do it? And what pushed the cops into arresting him?)

On NDTV 24x7, Maxwell Pereira (wrongly identified as the former Commissioner of Police) was holding forth on how the media should be more responsible. On CNN-IBN, the anchor was asking the reporter the most convoluted questions about the background of the case, how unique it was etc. Once Maxwell Pereira got off the line, NDTV 24x7’s reportage wasn’t much better either.

Instead of telling us about the here and now of the case, TV channels launched into labyrinthine talkathons, going over aspects most viewers were familiar with anyway.

The Noida double murder is going to dominate news channels in the days to come, but don’t be surprised if you remain ignorant about the latest developments in the investigation.

If you sit in dharna in front of your set and watch several hours of TV, back to back, you might have a chance. (There’s a caveat here — you have to be adept at cutting through the stream of consciousness that passes off as questions by anchors and answers by reporters). What you will certainly get plenty of is heavy duty pontificating on the decline of our society, the collapse of our morals and so on.

Spot the spot news on TV or look for a needle in a haystack — both are as difficult.

Meanwhile, the entertainment channels continue with their barrage of serials centred around weddings and families. There are quite a few new entrants but I haven’t had the courage to watch all of them. I saw a couple and was immediately traumatised. There’s something called Grihasthi on Star Plus, where a Bad Woman plots to destroy a Good Family (pretty much the story in each and every serial). Sujatha on Sony is about the sad life of a woman who must cope with an insensitive husband and equally insensitive grown-up children.

Serials have settled into such a sick, unpleasant groove that you begin to wonder if they’re all produced in one single giant factory run by Dementors from Azkaban (their only purpose being to suck out all the joy from households across the country). And there’s no desi Harry Potter to the rescue either.

Which is why I’m only too happy to watch Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? on Star Plus. Shah Rukh Khan brings so much unselfconscious fun and energy to the show, you can’t help but laugh. In one of the recent episodes, he had a school principal in the studio, who said she would recite a poem in veer ras. (She recited a bit of Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s Jhansi Ki Rani). Immediately, Shah Rukh declared that he was going to recite something in mosambi ras, and rattled off the first stanza of his Dard-e-disco number.

Some of the kids on the show are a little too cute, but if the viewing option is an overmade up vamp contorting her face as she swears revenge, the kids win hands down. No contest.

And finally. Let’s face it, IPL is a mega hit. Even I have been watching the matches though sometimes I don’t know if I’m watching commercials or cricket. Set Max executives must be in a state of happy delirium as they dance — with cheerleaders for company — all the way to the bank and the top of the TRP charts.

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