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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Power and glitter

The plots of Hindi TV serials seem as sensible as some TV news headlines

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Updated: January 5, 2017 12:00:57 am
Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, UP polls, Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Samajwadi Party, Sp, Uttar Pradesh Sp, Samajwadi Party feud, tv soaps, Tv serials, family drama, samajwadi party family drama, Times now, Udaan, Kuch Rang Pyar Ke Aise Bhi, election commission, daily soaps, india news, indian express news, indian express columns The power struggle between Yadav Sr and Yadav Jr in the Samajwadi Party saw fluctuations throughout the weekend, just as it has in the last few months as the party plunged into another critical phase. (File photo)

“EC electrifies political circles”: Times Now made this megawatt announcement, Wednesday soon after noon, obviously under the mistaken impression that the Election Commission of India is a gas turbine and politicians, people without power. Which bright spark wrote that headline?

The power struggle between Yadav Sr and Yadav Jr in the Samajwadi Party saw fluctuations throughout the weekend, just as it has in the last few months as the party plunged into another critical phase. TV reporters and cameras cut from one camp to the other on Sunday/Monday, trying to shed some light on what was happening; it seemed as if Mulayam had been jolted by a bolt from the blue when Akhilesh took over the party premises in Lucknow and assumed charge. That’s that then, you thought, the party will split and they’ll go their separate ways. Time to switch off. But Tuesday morning’s TV headlines suggested otherwise: “Will father and son patch up?”, asked CNN News 18 as the two met to discuss the power crisis in the party and we were all back where we started: In the dark.

There is no power shortage on our entertainment channels. Everything is bright and beautiful, glittering: The huge mansions lit up with chandeliers — look at the one in Udaan (Colors) where “maalik” lives; the glinting swords of the soldiers with fierce mascara and villainous moustaches as they charged forward to capture Hanuman (Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanuman); the white sands and turquoise water of the beaches in Mauritius (straight out of National Geographic) and Arjun’s glistening torso which he helpfully reveals by wearing only unbuttoned shirts throughout the serial (Beyhadh).

Or the unshed tears that would glisten if Sonakshi really shed them after she learns that she cannot have children (Kuch Rang Pyar Ke Aise Bhi). But she has a godly “Dev” for a husband — “You complete me”, he
consoles her by stealing Tom Cruise’s line from the film Jerry Maguire — the problem is she feels incomplete childless.

And the very real tears glistening on Avni’s cheeks, as she is robbed of her baby brother by the wicked granny in the presence of the blinding TV cameras and TV reporters who look entranced rather than appalled by the little girl’s predicament (Naamkaran). And oh, we haven’t even got to the sparkling jewels weighing down most female lead characters in soaps like they’re display cabinets at a jewellery shop.

Our soaps: Notice that many of them have gone abroad, not just Beyhadh. Pardes Mein Hai Mera Dil is set in Austria, if you please, and it is here that the love story of Raghav and Naina plays out. And then there’s the new talent reality show, Dil Hai Hindustani, which is being advertised with signboards from across the world: Location and nationality are no bar just as long as you can sing Hindi/Bollywood songs.

Also notice that they remain unrealistic and often silly. In Jaana Na Dil Se Door, Atharva, mentally differently-abled on account of a thrashing by Vividha’s father Kailash, loves Vividha, married to Ravish who promises to reunite them, and pursues this noble cause by keeping Atharva and his mother Sujata in his palace-like mansion. On Monday’s episode, Atharva found a pair of car keys descended from heaven — or some such — and decides to go for a drive. The gates to this bungalow are wide and invitingly open, the guard is looking the other way and vroooom he goes until Vividha, giving hot chase, manages to get ahead of him and block his car with a few branches on the road. Hallo?

In Beyhadh, Arjun is warned that a high tide is coming but he still insists on spread-eagling on the sand, oblivious to everything, until it does come in — just so he can be lost for Maya to come looking for him. And in Devanshi, Geeta gives Mohan a quarter bottle of liquor which he swallows in one gulp and immediately collapses on the bed, overpowered by the alcohol — and no, she didn’t drug it.

Is any of this for real? No more so than the EC electrifying political circles.

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