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Friday, December 03, 2021

The republic of television

IPL or election,TV treats everybody the same

Written by Shailaja Bajpai |
April 21, 2009 1:36:34 am

NDTV’s Vikram Chandra said,“It’s the greatest show on earth”,and you expected Virender Sehwag to step out and bludgeon the ball for a six. Instead,it was Renuka Chowdhary in a serpentine queue,waiting to step forward and vote for herself (or so we have to assume).

Television elevates and flattens at once,sometimes with a cross-batted shot. And so,general elections 2009 and IPL 2009 are on the same pitch — there’s not a decibel between them. They’re in a contest for more TV time (think IPL is winning). Moreover,they’re treated with the same degree of gravity: on Friday night,NDTV 24×7 heatedly discussed the Manmohan-Advani confrontation with Sudheendra Kulkarni (BJP) stoutly defending the reverse swing of Jayanthi Natarajan (Congress),with journalist Harinder Baweja trying to run him out. Simultaneously,Times Now had Boria Majumdar,Charu Sharma and Arbaaz Khan out there in the middle of a furious argument over Saurav Ganguly being deceived by the SRK googly of Brendon McCullum’s appointment as Kolkata Knightriders’ captain. Who is the most competent to lead KK seems as important as who leads India.

It’s carnival time on IPL and the smile on each face,tells you how happy everyone is to have exchanged the 40+ celsius of India for the 19-20 celsius of Cape Town. So far (Day 2),the strategy of changing venues appears to have been a masterstroke. And while purists of the game in news studios denounce the seven and a half minute strategy break as a Machiavellian ruse to give the broadcaster more commercial time (which of course it is),the viewer is quite happy: we can catch up with the political antics on the news or the childish antics of Baalika Vadhu.

Mandira Bedi is back after a long layoff. Since last year’s IPL,she’s shortened her run up,sorry,her hair,and snipped off the spaghetti straps so that her lovely sleeveless dress on Saturday,was held up by sheer willpower. She’s had a powerful effect on Mohinder Amarnath who,Sunday,looked almost dapper in a cream blazer,blue shirt and dark trousers. Arun Lal,are you watching?

She’s being escorted (or is it courted?) by Gaurav Kapoor,former VJ and Meiyang Chang,former Indian Idol contestant and the host of Indian Idol 4. Chang is very sweet but if we wants us to understand what he says,he must stop talking and smiling at the same time.

The IPL has seen advertisements bounce back into the picture. Nowadays,ad breaks are dominated by three types of commercials: IPL,Congress-BJP and banyans. Yes,Sunny Deol is still wearing a Lux Cozy — “apna luck pehen ke chalo”,Congress and BJP have released a new set of ads (including the Congress Jai Ho which is not a patch on the original) and Knight Riders are aiming to hit their opponents where it hurts the most. So far,all they’ve done is live up to the first part of their ad line: “We can take a beating”.

Poor Deepak Chaurasia was having a speech problem on Star News’ Kahiye Netaji. In Faridabad last week to conduct a debate between candidates,he was soon reduced to feeble entreaties and grave warnings of dire consequences if the loud and disruptive exchanges between supporters of each candidate did not cease: “If you are going to behave like this,I will have to stop this for a while and take a break…”,but when he returned it was as unruly as he had left it,and he was drowned in a sea of slogans. Contrast this with DD’s Janvaani where the audience was so orderly they could have been auditioning for the army.

Lastly,we were shown heartrending pictures of young Shanno with tubes and bandages obscuring her face. Zee News showed her just so,from every angle,like she was a museum piece. The good work done by TV news in exposing such horrific incidents is undone by their weakness for sensationalism and voyeurism.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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