Wednesday, May 4, 2016

For the love of "grey": A take on TV and its shows

Since the time I have been married, I have hardly watched TV. Which basically means that I haven't watched the cable television! My dear darling husband got me hooked to the idea of having our own media liberary. Hence we download our shows and religiously watch them as and when we get an opportunity. As a ritual we watch a couple of those together and then there are some that we watch at our own pace.
Add to the mix the launch of "Netflix", and boom, we have a plethora of shows from the west to whet our appetite for the television series.

The latest one that I have been hooked to is called "Blacklist". It is about a fugitive (an FBI most wanted) who has a blacklist of various thugs and who insists on engaging with a single FBI agent (who is the other protagonist) in the show in order to help FBI to take down the most wanted.
Similarly, there was another show in the past called the "White Collar", in which an ex con man teams up with an FBI agent in a twisted legal fashion to complete his prison sentence.
Then there are other shows, like "Madam Secretary", "the Good Wife" and the cult "Friends"; and various others that tackle various subjects that are different.
The shows are an exaggeration to an extent but the exaggeration is rooted in the reality of the people and who they are.
Almost all the protagonists in the western shows are REAL. They make mistakes and are not honour killed by the show writers by dialogues and music that is like cat scartching a wall. There is no black or white. There are women, yes the lead women who express their anguish, and who fall in love, despite being married. Who get re-married or find love again.
There are hidden agendas that they are pursuing for their own sakes, and which does not necessarily mean that their moral compass is OFF.

These real characters put shame to the protagonists in the Hindi television serials. It is impossible to relate with the Tulsi's and Parvati's and even the younger "yo" kind of characters that the Hindi TV Channels (or as a matter of fact, the Indian TV Channels) put forth to the viewers. How am I to believe that if I think about myself a little bit more than what I think about my family in general, it makes me a proverbial bitch who doesn't care. Or that, if I want to kiss a few frogs before I find my prince charming, I am a whore/ slut or characterless.
It is exactly this mind set that the country is trying to free itself from (thanks to the well read, and the internet). There are few who believe that it is okay to be selfish, and to sometimes put your own interest before the interest of an extended family who has nothing better to say.

The most glaring example of the disparity in how the television shows are treated (or rather how the television studios think about the intelligence of their audience) are the reality shows that are aired. Barring KBC, there have been no reality shows that are crisp. Even KBC for that matter now has become fraught with sob stories.
Another example of this disparity is the MasterChef series. MasterChef Australia as a show is just raising its standards every year, by the participants and the food that they portray. The hosts cum judges have become international celebraties thanks to the way the show runners have been running the show. And MasterChef India, oh well, from the bad quality of the food and the judges/ hosts, it is nothing but an emotional journey. There is no food journey at all.
And that is exactly the same with all our reality shows. They are fraught with more drama than talent. In an episode of 60 min while 15 minutes are kept for adverts, the rest of the content is not worth a 45 minute show. From antics of the host and the antics of judges, the sob stories.. it just gets worse every year. The singing/ dancing/ talent shows break your patience. With celebs coming there to promote their movies and then dancing/ singing with each contestant.. it is like publicity at the cost of the audience brain.  The show "Dancing with the Stars" which was adapted to "Jhalak Dikhlaja" was actually quite professional in the first 4 installments, and then it became like the rest. More antics and less content.

While the good thing about the reality shows is that it is a season based format, they trouble you only for a month or two or three but the drama shows on TV, the daily fix of the wives and mothers and some of us (till couple of years back) just go on and on and on with the same thing. A villian who will never change and a protagonist who is the epitome and a mixture of all things nice. There is always the family which is interfering in the love life of couples (married and unammried alike) and people scheming for the property of the others and they just don't stop. Unlike the shows in the west, where each season comprises of limited episodes.. here it will take two months (which is like 24 episodes) for one little thing to happen. In the current season of Blacklist, in episode 7 the protagonist finds out that she is having a baby, and by the 18th episode she has delivered the baby. The timelines are almost real.

Thank GOD for Zindagi TV, and Pakistani shows, which follow the similar format as the shows in West. Where the acting is good, the script is strong and make up plays NO role in a woman's life. Hell, they are even better dressed than the indian counter parts. As a matter of fact, two indian serials matching the genre and the style of zindagi were also introduced on the channel, but the writers just could not find that magic.
I am from the time when Waghle ki duniya, Buniyaad, Shanti, Junoon, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Shriman Shrimati, Tu Tu Main Main were in vogue and they were GOOD SHOWS. Even Flop Show by Jaspal Bhatti, was a social sattire and as a matter of fact, Movers and Shakers with Shekar Suman was a great show too.

While TV has moved into the realm of 24x7 liecenses, unfortunately the content has degraded to nonsensical shows and I wish that K revolution bought on by Ekta Kapoor had not happened and that TV viewing was a refreshing experience rather than a cringing one.

It is from the world of TV and Cinema that we, public at large set our compass. And while there is always meaninglessness that one finds on both these platforms, it is imperative that the audiences also start demanding meaningful content.

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