Telescope: Where the gods dazzle

For a pop culture expression of resurgent Hinduism, turn to Hindi channels.

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Updated: December 1, 2016 12:06 am

Since everyone else is talking about demonetisation, let’s talk of other things. For instance, are you even aware of the number of new Hindi regional news channels now available on your DTH server or cable system? News channels, perhaps serving their individual regions earlier, now show up on your menu: India Watch, Janta TV, News World India, Live Today UP, KNews, JK 24×7, News 11, News State UP/UK (Uttarakhand not the United Kingdom), India News MP and Chhattisgarh, Samay Rajasthan, MP and Bihar, UP Live, etcetra, etcetra.

No wonder we have 400+ news channels in this country. And many of them belong to the same stable: ETV has a pan India footprint with news channels in different languages — something Samay, for instance, emulates. Cannot comment on the journalistic quality of these channels but they are playing, and will play, an increasingly important role in delivering news and views in the Hindi heartland — where many states are due to hold assembly elections by 2018. Watch the UP/Uttarakhand ones closely for the next few months as the two states go to the polls; they will carry more news and debates, rallies and speeches than any of the “national” news channels.

They are also devoted to non-news news: The body build-up of Aamir Khan for his latest film was the subject of intense scrutiny, Tuesday night, on several of them — for example, News India, India News. The latter looked at how Adnan Sami, Anant Ambani and Arjun Kapoor won the battle of the bulge with photographs to illustrate their bodylines. In an aside, Aamir was asked about demonetisation which he wisely ducked, saying only that he hoped it would not affect Dangal.

Another trend: The number of mythological, historicals across general entertainment channels. If we were looking for a pop culture expression of the rise of resurgent Hinduism with the success of the BJP, it is here, it is here. Some examples: Santoshi Ma (& TV), Chandra Nandini (Star Plus), Karmafal Daata Shani (Colors), Jai Jai Jai Bajarangbali (Big Magic), Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanuman (Sony) and Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik (EPIC) in which Pattanaik explains the epics — on Monday, he spoke of Karn and his mother Kunti before he goes to battle.

Forget about the content — which is quite evident from the names — and admire the sets instead. In Shani, nothing is smaller than a kingdom — or so it seems — ergo, Surya’s palace, abode, the likes of which you have never seen before — ornate, cavernous, lit up with the light of the world. And the costumes are of so much gold, they should be surrendered to the RBI forthwith. You are so bedazzled, you almost miss Shani’s stout defence of his mother and by extension, of women (Friday).

And then, of course, there are the snakes. Or series based on the supernatural inspired by myth. None more so than Naagin (Colors), currently the top-rated series. Don’t even go into the plot, it is too confusing and you’re not really meant to go there. It’s the snakes and serpents and giant flies — computer graphic wonders of the world — the extraordinary evil which resides in the human heart, plus what one of the characters defines as “overacting ki dukaan’,” that will leave you in shock and awe.

The gods are present in many other soaps too, often playing a defining role. In Yeh Vaada Raaha (Zee), as Tai mercilessly scythes Survi, Ganesha is repeatedly shown to be standing between Tai and Survi’s death. Unfortunately, Tai — the most villainous-looking female you have encountered recently on TV — succeeds and Survi dies, leaving behind her mentally-challenged husband, Kartik and daughter Kushi. But, Ganesha is still very much in the picture.

Now, if only he or the other gods could solve the currency crisis.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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    Abninav
    Dec 1, 2016 at 5:50 pm
    Most stupid , shallow and intellectually dishonest piece of writing. How much further will IE allow its journalistic level to degrade.
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      farzi kumar
      Dec 1, 2016 at 7:04 am
      Dried up missioneries fund and now showing hindu religions mythological stories in a good way.this is intolerable for us pseudosecular this modi has put bamboo up on our both ends
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        Punit
        Dec 1, 2016 at 12:07 am
        For the pop culture expression of dhimmitude and jihadism, turn to Indian express. lt;br/gt;Anything related to hinduism and indian nationalism is reported with utter contempt. Jihadi crimes are either ignored or diluted by negative reporting. Muzaffarnagar brutal killing of two hindus was totally ignored and not reported for weeks, until the backlash happened. The worst crimes and chilling facts of 26/11 is ignored like brutal killing and torture of jewish couple, selective release of muslims. But it is reported in such a way where hindu victims claims, there is no use thinking about the pain and hate. lt;br/gt;They routinely manufacture news for khans. Months before the release of their movies, hype is built up on daily basis by ping off trivial information of them as big headline news.
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          ak dev
          Dec 1, 2016 at 11:17 am
          This author may have her own compulsions to criticise Hinduism. However, there is some truth that many Hindi TV channels are indulging in reviving the myths that most Hindus had forgotten or want to move ahead. Probably these channels see an audience just like NDTV and IE have readers liking anti-Hindu propaa news. It's all business of money making. Don't expect anything else from these channels or news papers.
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            Sewali Choudhury
            Dec 1, 2016 at 7:03 am
            I shifted to Homeland, Mentalist and Fatema Gull ! Nothing else !
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              Anon
              Dec 1, 2016 at 7:47 am
              If you are born a hindu who is not dalit, then that is a crime. You cannot be tolerant or secular, crime n violence runs through your veins.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The only redemption is to join left, abuse modi and hate our culture. Its ok for a muslim to be a muslim n Christian to be a Christian. But Hinduism shouldnt be allowed to flourish or exist. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Thats what the author says
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                Dan Mishra
                Dec 1, 2016 at 12:12 pm
                Ms Bajpai, you are insinuating that somehow Hinduism is a bad thing. You are a typical pseudo intellectual who thinks that being a Hindu is for people lacking intellect and rationality. Let me point it out to you that the so called Western Science has been struggling to discover the true knowledge for a millennium and has not arrived there yet. Our forefathers, the Hindus, discovered and enunciated the Truth seven millennia ago in the Vedas. That is the gift of Hindus to the World - true Knowledge and true Peace. All the other religions keep shouting "peace", "m", "salom" and so on; only to indulge daily in ignorance and violence. Of course, for semi educated self ascribed intellectual people like you, this will come as heresy. You ridicule our mythological characters. You don't even realise that these characters are symbols of g ideas and concepts devised by our ancestor to convey true knowledge of Creation to the mes. Have you ever taught alphabets to a child without ociating these with some symbols? Of course, obtuse people like you will never understand that. Let it be a surprise to you that the mes have more common sense or true knowledge than you.
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                  Anonymous
                  Dec 1, 2016 at 10:04 am
                  If Hinduism needs ist to be promoted, there should be programs which should educate the people about vedas, its basic principles and its teachings. Soap dramas are just enertainment !
                  Reply
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