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Also,American TV just doesn’t have the colourful imagination of our TV news

Written by Shailaja Bajpai |
April 7, 2009 12:04:56 am

So,here’s the latest from the most popular soap opera currently riveting audiences throughout India: with her son in prison,the chhoti bahu takes on the formidable matriarch,Maya memsahib who had him jailed.

Chhoti Bahu (eyes snapping): You are no mother so you cannot sympathise with my blight,sorry,plight.

Maya Memsahib(eyes hard): A mother instills good values in her children; if you had instilled good values in him,your son would not have done what he did.

Freeze frame.

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All of us who ever said the K serials were a figment of producer Ekta Kapoor’s imagination,would have been astonished by the uncanny likeness UP chief minister Mayawati and BJP’s Maneka Gandhi bore to characters in Kyunki,Kahani,her two most successful serials. Dear Ekta,what about a new show Kahani Maya aur Maneka ki?

While the milk of human kindness was curdling between the two women,the men were busy playing Monopoly. Last week saw NDTV’s nationwide poll as well as India Today’s (Headlines Today) on the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. The roll of the dice on the two channels saw different parties occupying the best addresses on the board. Remember,in 2004,the polls were wrong on the eventual result so political parties shown to be losing ground this time,can take heart from that. As for viewers,the polls are fun to watch just so long as you don’t take them at their word,or in this case,at their numbers.

 We’ve seen polls on CNN-IBN,NDTV 24×7 and Headlines Today and the verdict is that while CNN-IBN’s numbers moved faster than we could add them up,NDTV’s moved too slowly and Headline’s sorta hung like the next Parliament is predicted to. Also,the idea of an expert panel that tries to translate figures into words of wisdom about the political mood of the country is a bad idea: no one says anything that hasn’t already been said. Battleground with Prannoy Roy (NDTV 24×7) was the best election special: it gave you each state’s voting patterns,profiles,parties without expert opinions. Will someone reinvent it? 

Caught up with the Congress and BJP TV adverts on Tata Sky. BJP’s has a catchy tune and a Shaan-daar awaaz (sorry,could not resist the pun) but a forgettable punchline which we promptly forgot. Congress’s was all smiles with a hand hovering above but no Jai Ho! Both seemed inspired by the Incredible India ad campaign; both had hordes of children looking happy just to be there. The idea seems to be that we should elect the party that will secure our children’s future — surely,the irony is lost on no one that both parties are led by men who are over 75?  

And how’s this for irony: Friday night at Binghamton found every Indian TV news channel at the immigration centre where a gunman was killing and holding people hostage while BBC and CNN were miles away at a NATO meeting. When CNN visited the scene of the crime,it could not confirm any deaths  — “4 killed possibly” — while the Indian channels had already told us that 12-14 were dead. American local TV is pretty banal — they don’t have the colourful turn of phrase or talent for catchy breaking news headlines our Hindi news channels do. A pretty fellow with round cheeks and sleek blond hair asked an eyewitness a straightforward question: “What did you see?” Now,any Indian TV anchor would have asked: “Tell me,you saw the dangerous criminal with the lethal weapon in his hand who has killed 13 people — what did he look like?” By the way,News 24,identified Binghamton as ‘New York’ instead of ‘New York state’ so its viewers would thought the incident was taking place at the home of the Statue of Liberty.  

Finally,this delightful joke from Tonight with Jay Leno (Zee Café): What does AIG stand for? Ain’t I greedy! 

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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