For those who wish cricket remained an insect that squeaks at the wrong time (in the silence of the night or the one that greets a lame joke), there is more to TV than cricket. Treat it like a Twenty20 something time-pass when you finally sicken of news debates or if you’re sick of the sight of Brendon McCullum and Mitchell Starc (IPL 2015, Sony Six). Watch something else.
For instance, rain delayed the opening ceremony of IPL ’15 long enough for you to watch Arvind Kejriwal instead of Anushka Sharma. NDTV 24×7 repeated his interaction with business leaders at the CII in a session moderated by its anchor, Nidhi Razdan. Last February too, we watched Delhi’s chief minister at the same venue. What a difference a year makes. Then, Kejriwal was all muffled up, grim and grave, although he did grin occasionally; on Tuesday, he was sunny and summery in shirtsleeves, Mr Congeniality himself. Perhaps that’s what winning 67 out of 70 seats does to you.
You could also have listened to musicians Pandit Vishwanath, Pakistani ghazal singer Ustaad Ghulam Ali and his son Aamir Ali discuss how music transcends religion (NDTV 24×7) on the eve of the Alis’ visit to Banaras to perform at the Sankat Mochan temple music festival — a first for a Pakistani.
Which brings us to the event that has divided Hindus and Muslims since 1947: Partition. Waqt Ne Kiya Haseen Sitam (Zindagi) revisits the frenzy and hatred that pitted neighbours and friends against each other in the bloodiest communal violence. The series is painfully reminiscent of Govind Nihalani’s TV series, Tamas. Both are based on novels, Tamas and Bano respectively; while Tamas was located in Pakistan and relates to the experiences of Hindus and Sikhs, Waqt… begins on the Indian side of the border and concerns the travails of Muslims; in particular, young girl Bano’s family. This week’s episodes dwelt on the riots, in which Bano’s brother is killed trying to protect his family, his pregnant wife’s jump to join him in death, his mother’s attempt to strangulate Bano to save her from a “fate worse than death”, and finally their Hindu rescuer (identified with a forehead tika) trying to rape Bano before he’s knifed by another Hindu.
The scenes are brutal but moving, not overly melodramatic. Obviously, the Hindus appear to be the “bad guys”, but we know from history that such incidents did occur between the communities and were equally horrific on either side. So although Waqt… may offend our patriotic sensibilities, it is a snapshot of its times, not a Hindu, Muslim, Indian or Pakistani narrative. Just another example of ethnic brutality, much like the beheadings carried out by the Islamic State and the recent mass execution of students in Kenya.
Dil Ki Baatein Dil Hi Jaane (Sony) is also painful to watch. Here, actor Ram Kapoor plays Ram (who else?), married to Anandita (Gurdeep Kohli), with two adorable kids. It’s a middle class “happily ever after” life until Anandita is diagnosed with cancer again and the battle against it resumes. It’s laudable to depict and confront the impact of the often-fatal disease on a family. Kapoor is convincing in his role of the devoted husband — he seems larger than life each time we see him — so is Kohli, as the ailing but spirited wife. But thus far the serial is not compelling enough to make you want to return the next night.
One night with Dilli Wali Thakur Girls (&TV) was enough. It’s all so slapstick, you want to spank the characters. It’s based on the delightful novel by Anuja Chauhan, Those Pricey Thakur Girls, and almost nothing like it. In Monday’s episode, Daboo, one of the five Thakur sisters, is shown trying to clean up a dress on a mannequin: it’s so inane you wish the mannequin came alive and socked her one. Then there’s the silly “Gulab chachi” and her doltish looking son, journalist Dylan, in a tuxedo who discovers “Adivasi” children working in a sweatshop (if he can tell they’re Adivasi at a glance, he should join the census department), father Judge L.N., a mother straight out of Pride and Prejudice, and the other sisters. Also, Puppy Lee, a mockery of designer J.J. Valaya. Sorry, but too exhausted and bemused to even describe the plot.