Telescope: Every Republic Dayhttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/telescope-every-republic-day/

Telescope: Every Republic Day

Count on Doordarshan anchors’ poetry and saccharine sweet patriotism.

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It has suddenly become chic to have Sunny Leone on your show, even if it means listening to her speak a language few can barely understand. Last week, she made Bhupendra Chaubey almost (in)famous (CNN-IBN) and, this week, it was the turn of Chutki, Shopkeepaa aur Woh! (Big Magic) to plumb the depths of her popularity. Shopkeepaa spoke Hindi, Leone tried to speak something akin to it — next time, just speak English, Sunny. Otherwise, it is all very confusing — your speech and the reason you are here, there and everywhere.

An animated helicopter trailing the Indian flag flew here and there, along the corner of the TV screen throughout the Republic Day parade on Tuesday. Suspect it was a Doordarshan invention, which delighted the powers that be there — so what if some of us thought it was an irritating fly that ought to be swatted off the grandest show on Rajpath.

But why pick on such small, fleeting issues on January 26? ‘Twas the day to be jolly and jolly forgiving. To overlook, nay, enjoy the poetic heights Doordarshan anchors scaled in their descriptions, including the “quietude of our souls”; to admire their ability to read the PM’s mind while he signed the ceremonial book at India Gate: “He is penning his thoughts, his gratitude… this is a poignant time for the PM… as he expresses his heartfelt feelings…” To praise their saccharine sweet patriotism — “this for those who died but continue to live in our hearts forever.” To accept their exaggerations for what they are, exaggerations — “It’s cold out there but (nobody cares)… they are all smiles… they can’t wait for the parade to begin…” At the sight of the PM, “they are filled with enthusiasm and zeal”. To accept their description of the French regiment “marching smartly” when they appeared to be slouching towards Paris, as an example of India’s “atithi devo bhava”.

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For once, ignore “Breaking News” that announced “PM about to alight any moment now”. Or the ABP anchor who referred to “Champs Elesees” and “Sacosy”. Watch in wonder the unusual sponsors who wanted to identify with the parade on the day India became a republic: Fat Go Jolly Go, for instance, on Zee and Aquaguard, Maharaja Tea.

Try to understand why Sadhana channel, which has somehow managed to get listed among Hindi news channels on Tata Sky, chose to talk about the wellness of human organs and ayurveda treatments in an advertorial, when the national anthem was playing.

Applaud channels like ABP, Aaj Tak, Zee, Zee Business, NDTV24x7 that added to our knowledge of defence weaponry — Tejas, Bhishma tank, etc — with the help of men of military standing. Meanwhile, channels such as Kashish and Sudarshan showed us celebrations of the day in states — saw Nitish Kumar (Kashish) and UP Governor Ram Naik unfurl the flag.

Reserve your “oohs” and “aahs” for the fly past, the dog march and, above all, for the breathtaking view from DD cameras of Rajpath, the parade especially from on high. Wow. This is an art they have perfected.

Republic Day is one occasion when we may all enjoy a little bit of jingoism, right?

Speaking of TV commercials, we should welcome the series on Rajasthan which are unexpected, amusing and creative. In fact, they easily rival the Incredible India series. Unlike the latter, they don’t have a brand ambassador like Aamir K, or is it now Amitabh B and Priyanka C? No, that’s incorrect: They have a brand ambassador in Rajasthan, so they do away with the need for a Bollywood star to enhance the state’s star power. There’s one ad animated in sand that’s perfectly delightful.