If television doesnt bring sexy back now,it probably never will
Pick up any newspaper today and its party pages are spilling with after-hours events of television actors. There are at least four paparazzi-friendly parties a week,a couple of swishy weddings a month and then assorted birthdays,PVR sightings,music launches and you have reams of newsprint chronicling these.
Television stars are so glamorous today. They are urbane,rich and good looking. They live in sprawling suburban homes,wear designer clothes and move around in Beemers and Audis.
But the snob value thats associated with their lifestyle is missing. Socialites and fashionistas dont recognise them,or will feign ignorance even if they do. Nita Ambani has still to invite one to her monthly parties at Antilla. And none of Mumbais high society is flattered about appearing in newspaper supplements because theyre filled with TV try-hards. Ill let the newspapers take my picture but Ill never give them my quote, says a South Mumbai socialite,whos been finding herself on newspapers front pages instead.
So whats going wrong for TV stars? The problem is that despite so many leaps taken by television channels and their programming,their content is still so weak. Television is still considered small screen,for small-minded folks in small towns.
The content that TV shows comprise is either regressive,or seemingly so,or outright sensational,as in the case of reality shows such as Bigg Boss or Survivor India. A show on child marriage has no resonance with Indias growing cities. An educated wife for a halwai husband is equally alien. And a 30-odd-year-old virgin would find it very hard to get hitched,yes,even in our culture.
More than the thematic plots of shows like these,its the execution that rankles. The writing is foolish and naïve,despite a multitude of talent,producers feel this is what the audience wants. The production values are bizarrely poor,even though the industry is making money like never before. The sets and the costumes are incongruous: theyre gaudy and overdone. Everyones dressed like theyre going for a wedding,whether theyre cooking or sleeping. This isnt escapist or aspiring,its plain stupid.
In the US,where the entertainment industry is known generally by its movies,or Hollywood,the game has changed. I can barely name the last fabulous American movie I watched. Between bromances,cheesy rom-coms,animation and super-hero fests,Hollywood is dead. Its TV shows,contrarily,are at their creative finest. Modern Family and Mad Men are my favourites,but The Big Bang Theory,30 Rock,Glee,Weeds,Dexter are superb too. HBOs films dont allow you to miss theatrical releases; theyre even filled with film actors. In India,the best paid,most popular television actor craves a sidekicks role on celluloid.
Television-viewing has never been more pleasurable. The ubiquity of flat-screen TVs their easy availability and friendly prices make them the norm,not a luxury anymore. The superlative quality of HD options and recordables ensure you miss nothing.
Saving Kaun Banega Crorepati and its impeccable host Amitabh Bachchan,theres not a single show that spans the country. Before this,was Mahabharata and Ramayana,Chhaya Geet and yes,Malgudi Days too. CID is uber popular,thanks to its pulp fun,exciting guest appearances and not being shy of a little blood-spill. Adalat is following in its footsteps too. And Aamir Khan promises to bring back to television its lost glory with his mysterious new show Satyamev Jayate.
But today,stylish television watching is limited to renting a DVD.