Monthly Archives: April 2009

Kyon ki aadmi bhi kabhi bandar tha….

‘Main tumhare bachche ki maa banne wali hu’

‘…..fir hum uske jahidat ke mallik ban jayenge’

‘Bahu – Yeh lo ghar ki tijori ki chawi’

Sounds familiar? Yes – Clichés from Indian soaps (well….actually any genre of video media). The iconic aphorisms created by the immensely talented writers/screenwriters/producers/spot boys who caused a revolution in our drawing rooms. These gifted scribblers discovered an inexhaustible source of permutations and combinations from the mistress-illegitimate child-amnesia-rape-death-rebirth -amnesia-vamp-seduction-amnesia warehouse. These penny for a page auteurs invented cheap plots, cheaper productions and cheapest camera tricks which would put the makers of Zee Horror Show to shame. They fathered ‘The Great Indian Soap Opera’- that dominates the prime time entertainment today (except maybe for the tearfests they call the talent shows).

Now, one cannot blame them for copying the Mexican, American or even Srilankan soaps. They never planned to reinvent the wheel, did they? They were simply ‘inspired’ by All My Children (an American daily soap which is still running from 1970). They thought that Santa Barbara is like any Ghar Ki kahani. They tapped on Ugly Betty and made her the ugly beti (Jassi Jasi koi…) – another one inspired from the Columbian soap Betty la fea.

Why am I writing this? Well- I’m a huge fan of western TV shows. Not the soaps, mind you. Entourage, True Blood, Arrested development, Six Feet Under, Scrubs,Coupling, Yes Minister, Dexter, Californication, Burn Notice are only a few of the shows that I follow. And every time I finish watching an episode I mentally recite the ‘what if this could happen in India’ prayer. It used to-once upon a time. Indian television has seen better days than today. It was never the reign of these prevailing orgies of bahus and their presumably badass saases.

Good ol’ doordarshan had shows like Circus, Malgudi Days, Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne, Nukkad, Dekh Bhai Dekh. These shows had a more creative appeal to them. They churned out a lot of talent in the form of directors- Saeed Mirza or Anurag Kashyap are prime examples of film makers who started with TV. But these shows were not soap operas. They were more real. They didn’t have the men eating dinners in three piece suits or the women dressed for Diwali while sipping the morning tea. I could identify with these shows.

A look at the TV guide today, was a real treat. These writers have brought the hyphen ‘-’ in the TV shows. A few years ago these used to adorn the films like Daag-The Fire or Dushman-The Enemy. The scribblers are now showing off their prowess over punctuation by creating names like-
Aathvaan Vachan….Saath Vachano Se Badhkar, Ek Safar Aisa…Kabhi Socha Na Tha, Jeevan Saathi-Hum Safar Zindagi Ke, Balika Vadhu-Kacchi Umar Ke Pakke Raste or Agle Janam Mohe Betiya Hi Kijo (wtf !)

**shiver**

As a part of my ‘research’ for writing this hate blog I managed to sit through a show for an entire minute. After that I couldn’t. I physically couldn’t. I actually felt like throwing up. The scene which was thrown at me was supposed to tell me how a particular phone call was attended in the house by someone who was not supposed to. The character who unwittingly attends the call becomes aware of an evil scheme. After the call ends the actor all of a sudden starts talking to himself. Now don’t get me wrong here- soliloquy is a method of acting used by Shakespearean actors, but no- this guy starts walking into the camera as if he’s angry at the spot boy behind the camera and then continues to talk at the wall behind the camera! He then makes a face as if he stepped on his own or someone else’s morning glory. What the hell man! Who does that!?! Do you talk over your shoulder to your father or mother? Does your family stand in a line in the drawing room while talking? Do you sweat every time you hear something you don’t want to?

The thing is-they conceived it to entertain an audience that doesn’t mind if it is treated as morons. Giving the audience the credit for its intelligence (or the lack of) is bad for business. Ekta Kapoor, the fairy godmother for bad actors-who have a penchant for bad acting, does this in a rather emphatic fashion. And these actors have their faces stapled to my newspaper copy telling me how a certain soap actor invokes pain in a scene by recalling how he broke his wrist when he was three.

I hear one of the cable networks is giving Hi-Def service. What the hell will you watch in HD? The gory details of a vamps makeup? The transformation of a hospital wing to the drawing room of Singhania family in consecutive scenes? The tears of a talent show contestant? I don’t think so.

I long for the day when the Indian TV shows will make sense. May be that day we’ll see pigs handglide.

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Filed under Non Fiction, Opinion

A Bullet from my Valentine

It’s not easy to get a girlfriend in Bangalore. It’s even harder to keep one.

She used to work in my office. To put it in a better way-we worked together. She was a developer and I a coder. She was funny, sexy, cool, and confident and I was not. She was on her way up and me-lets just say I wasn’t.

When she agreed to go out with me, everybody showed genuine disbelief. Myself included. I just stood there with a loss of words and came up with something silly like, ‘Cool!’. She had giggled. They always do. But then I made what I call a super awesome comeback and made her giggle a little more and fixed up a date. And that was that.

‘She’s using you man!’, Wilfred had told me when I had broken the news to him. He sat next to me in the office. He loved football and loved Amisha Patel even more. He had an opinion about everybody and everything. He was a gossip queen. And also he lied a lot. “No she’s not. And even if she is, I don’t care”, I had replied with all the annoyance I could summon in two seconds.

But seriously I didn’t care. I really didn’t. Her ex was a finance guy who worked on the seventh floor and had an MBA degree from a shady institute whose name sounded like Sunny or Happy or something cornier. He liberally used double entendre right from the cafeteria to the boardroom. But the guy apparently had a way with numbers and the guys on the tenth floor were happy about it. ‘Mr. Bottomline’ as he was affectionately called by the female staff, had relentless pursued her and she had relented. But they had broken up in six months. Apparently someone from HR too, had relented-much later than her. I knew this because Wilfred knew this. And Wilfred knew everything.

Our first date was like most first dates-uncomfortable, tense and at times embarrassing. For me it was all three. But she didn’t mind. She gave me a two out of five and asked me to promise her that the next one would be better. And I did. And it was. A Shahrukh Khan movie, a stroll in the mall and a dinner in a Punjabi restaurant. Safe. I was in and she was too.

She liked Sidney Sheldon, SRK, Priyanka Chopra and Backsteet Boys. She thought Metallica was a girl. ‘Is she like Madonna?’ she had enquired. Her favourite movie was Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. She liked Forum better than Garuda Mall-‘Its just better’, she had observed. She used words like ‘anyways’ and ‘precisely’ all the time. She always wore a watch on the right hand. She said that she liked me a lot. I believed her.

‘She’s still using you man. She’s gonna go back to whatshisname’, Wilfred had repeated after I had told him that I was planning an expensive date on Valentines Day. He also informed me that Mr. Bottomline had saved the company like a zillion dollars and avoided a major lay-off. The guys on the tenth floor were planning to move him to the eighth. It was that or an extended stay in Europe. That bastard. She really hated him. She always let me know how much she hated him. It was kinda amusing. I used to come up with really funny jokes about him. Funnily, she didn’t find them funny.

‘No she’s not. She told me she was over him on our last date. And besides, why would she care if he’s headed off to Europe. He’s stupid. She told me that. Mr. Bottomline- I wonder why they call him that’

Today morning I woke up with a smile on my face. It was the first time that had happened. I actually had a date on Yash Chopra’s favourite day. I had it all figured out. Right to the minutest detail. I was gonna buy 23 roses- one for each time she had gone out with the formerly worlds-most-eligible-loser. Then I was gonna take her to an expensive restaurant in Indiranagar. It was gonna be perfect.

I had managed to get real Swiss chocolates from a guy I knew in finance. She loved Swiss chocolates. She had told me that. I had bought a new shirt for the date. I did buy 23 roses. Man they were expensive! I even bought a huge bouquet just in case.

She lived in Kormangala. I was supposed to pick her up. It was tricky to make my way through the traffic not messing up the bouquet. Many people offered expletives in Kannada. I returned the favour in Marathi. Couples were already getting comfortable. Not too comfortable though. Some outfits were calling on them in the Lord’s name.

I made it in time to her place. She lived in an apartment complex. Romeos with half of southern India’s flowers were already there picking up there respective Juliets. Understandably there was a rush at the elevator. I resisted the urge to take the stairs. A sweaty and panting version of me wouldn’t exactly be a welcome sight. So I stayed in the queue for the elevator with a dozen other thoughtful individuals. I fought with a guy who had a smaller bouquet than mine. I won.

The elevator was small and stuffy. All the guys were reeking with the Axes and Zataks and Bruts. I felt like throwing up. I made a funny expression at the guy next to me who responded by finding something interesting in the elevator safety manual. Slowly I made it to her floor.

As I got out of the elevator I made my way through the hallway, trying to figure out where to go. For a moment I forgot her surname. Then I remembered. I headed to her apartment. Apartment B-23-C.

She was already at the door. She looked stunning. She was wearing a Punjabi dress for the first time since we had started going out. I had not expected that. Her hair was not tied up. That was a first too. She was wearing pretty earrings. My girlfriend looked beautiful.

She had another bouquet at her feet. It was way bigger than mine. She had a smile on her face that I had never seen before. With her head resting gently on his chest and her hand resting firmly on his bottom, Mr. Bottomline was giving himself the high five and punching the air.

Mr. Bottomline – I get the name now.

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Filed under Fiction