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Top Gear: No offense, but it's not that funny

So Jeremy Clarkson, one of the presenters of Top Gear India Special (BBC Entertainment), installed a toilet on his Jaguar's bonnet because "everyone who comes to India gets the trots". Poonam Saxena writes.

tv Updated: Feb 08, 2012 17:19 IST
Poonam Saxena
Poonam Saxena
Hindustan Times
Poonam Saxena,Jeremy Clarkson,Top Gear India Special

So Jeremy Clarkson, one of the presenters of Top Gear India Special (BBC Entertainment), installed a toilet on his Jaguar's bonnet because "everyone who comes to India gets the trots". After the show was telecast, many Indians got the, no, not the hots (I'm trying to imagine anyone getting the hots for Clarkson and failing spectacularly) but there was certainly lots of outrage. Clarkson and gang (co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond) were accused of lampooning Indian culture. The Indian High Commissioner to London even made a formal complaint. And British Prime Minister David Cameron hastily clarified that he hadn't liked the show. A diplomatic incident over a TV show? That too a TV show replete with toilet humour, schoolboy-level pranks, tasteless jokes and - like a constant background buzz - an all-pervading air of general lunacy?

In Top Gear India Special, three men go from Mumbai to Jaipur to Delhi to Shimla and beyond in three old, iconic cars - a Jaguar XJS, Rolls Royce Silver Shadow and a Mini Cooper. Along the way, they try and 'boost' British trade to India by putting up giant banners on the sides of Indian trains: to give one example, one of the banners reads 'The United Kingdom promotes British IT for your company.' But when the train carriages separate at a station, the banner gets torn in the middle and now reads: 'The United Kingdom promotes shit for your company.' (That's so funny, we're dying laughing).

They also spend hours in a queue at the railway station, waiting to book train tickets to Delhi (haven't they heard of the Internet? Even we've heard of it in India). They declare that Indian roads are the most dangerous in the world (at the risk of mortally offending Indian pride - they aren't exactly safe, are they?). And so on and so forth.

Basically, Top Gear India Special was the usual foreign-people-at-sea-in-crazy-chaotic-India sort of show. Except that here, Clarkson, May and Hammond were probably even crazier and more chaotic. (And not always funny. What is funny is the way so many Indians get riled at slights, imagined or real. Loosen up, people. Relax. Try and find that elusive 'good humour' gene. It's a better thing to carry around than a placard that says, "We get offended by everything.")

Colors has started a new show called Ring Ka King. This is a wrestling show, and I don't know who the target audience is, but it's certainly not me. However, I watched the first episode, in which we were introduced to all the wrestlers and the first couple of bouts took place. The wrestlers swaggered in one by one, punching the air with giant fists, baring their teeth and emitting guttural sounds which could roughly be translated as "I'm going to kill everyone." Some of them were a little odder than the others. For example, someone called Dr Nicholas Dinsmore came wearing a doctor's coat with a stethoscope around his neck and a doctor's bag in his hand. Another strode in wearing dark glasses (maybe he thought he was a Bollywood star), with a chain mail thingie draped around his shoulders.

During the fights, they flung each other about with gay abandon, still emitting those guttural, animal-like sounds. Not to be outdone, every time some poor sod was smashed to the ground, the referee too would fling himself down on the ground and thump at it vigorously. And in the background, was this constant roar. (No, I don't think it was the sound of the spectators, it came out of some sound studio). Ring Ka King is like a testosterone overdrive - I wonder what will happen when the female wrestlers make an appearance.

First Published: Feb 03, 2012 23:43 IST