And a TV show that ventured outside the home draws to an unlamented close.
Everything that Prime Minister Narendra Modi does in public is news. And so his visit to the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu was the stuff of headlines. All Monday, the Hindi news channels in particular relayed footage of his visit there and described it in minute detail, going so far as to tell us how many deities he paid homage to, how many minutes he spent inside the complex, etc. Monday evening saw lengthy features on the visit. At the end of it, you were left wondering whether such fulsome coverage was appropriate on news channels: should the visit to a temple, however revered and sacred, be given so much visibility and importance? Thus far, our news channels have refrained from openly mixing religion with politics in their coverage. Is this set to change?
The wise viewer would have opted to watch the Commonwealth Games (Ten Sports) instead of the dismal second cricket Test match between England and India. At least we were “singin’ in the rain” as India quite often ended up on the winning side with gold, or at least a silver lining. Besides, there was the pleasure of watching some thrilling encounters, including the men’s singles badminton final on Sunday, with Parupalli Kashyap as the master of ceremonies. The men’s hockey final was a real dampener though, as you had to watch the ball in the Indian goal far more frequently than you wanted to.
And may we request DD, our public broadcaster, to obtain the rights to the Asian Games scheduled for September in South Korea, so that the Games are telecast on DD Sports?
Kabbadi is a sport many of us have played at school or outside our homes, but whoever thought we would watch it on TV, that too in a stadium done up in WWE style? Yes indeed, the Pro Kabbadi League is currently showing on Star Sports and you have these kabbadi gladiators in bright coloured singlets raiding each other’s territory until someone pulls their leg (!) and they are brought down in a heap of men, rugby style. To be honest, it exceeded our expectations: it was far more entertaining than you may have thought a game of kabbadi could be. Partly, this could be because everyone from the players and the coaches to the spectators and commentary team take the game seriously. The commentary is lively, with enthusiastic commentators describing the proceedings with breathless excitement. Give the Pro Kabbadi League a watch — you might just enjoy yourself.
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The Amitabh Bachchan vehicle, Yudh (Sony) is scheduled to come to a halt next week, or at least take a break. The series has seen some really good performances from a cast led by the inimitable Big B himself, but it hasn’t been the hit we had hoped it would be. Great expectations that Yudh, like Anil Kapoor’s 24 before it, could herald in a new era of television fiction have, alas, been belied. Both shows ought to have been on everyone’s “must watch” list but that hasn’t happened. The signal from the viewer seems to be — if you want to be a successful show, don’t step outside the confines of the home, don’t venture into new territory.
On the other hand, the fault lies with Yudh and 24 too. Yudh, with a convoluted, jumpy storyline that has too many strings for a short series, without a romantic angle or strong emotional core (to say nothing of the clown who is still hanging around in the background and will suddenly be seen by Bachchan in the unlikeliest places), plus a telecast time of 10.30 pm, is not gripping. 24 was gripping but too experimental for the viewer of daily soaps: if you hadn’t seen the original American show with Kiefer Sutherland, the format of the series would have been mighty confusing. Also, such short, seasonal shows have yet to find their niche on television.
Having said that, noticed promos for a new show, Airlines (Star Plus). One thing’s for sure, this one will definitely take off. How well it runs on air and in the air remains to be seen, but it is venturing out of the homestead — and how.