It’s a f*&^%d up world. At least that’s what the media would have us believe. Politicians across the length and breadth of the nation making asses of themselves and screwing us over big time. Luxury ships turning belly up mid sea and being likened to the Titanic (how the media loves to exaggerate bad news na). Our cricket team disgracing us, playing like rank amateurs, we should horsewhip the whole lot of them and kick them out (ahem, they just won us the World cup, sure they’ve played miserably, and sure they’ve lost but uh who doesn’t have a bad day or bad month. And if they’ve lost their form, drop them, train them but why behave like they’re traitors and terrorists who’ve butchered mothers and infants?).
I think you get my point. If one were to go by the newspapers and news channels, we’re living in such times of such abject malevolence and misery that ritually removing one’s intestines is the greatest source of happiness available to us.
But what if I didn’t go by the media? And instead just looked around at my own life? Where a bunch of eager twenty year olds tell me they don’t want to work for money – they just wanna work on stuff they enjoy and learn. Where a rick guy seeing me frantically flapping my hands, stops, tells me he’s got a puncture, so won’t be able to ferry me to my destination but is willing to drop me ahead to another rickshaw. Where a friend of mine who’s been getting friends and family to pool in money so she can throw Christmas and birthday parties for under privileged kids is now planning a Republic Day party at an old age home. Where every day, be it blazing sun or pouring rain, an old man with a heartwarming smile holds up a message of love at the Juhu Circle traffic signal.
Doesn't sound like that bad a world to me. And it isn't. Sure there are assholes and psychos and criminals and corrupt and cruel creeps. But I believe the nice guys, the good humans, outnumber them 10 to 1. Or more likely a 100 to 1. It’s just that they’re not in the public eye, in the media spotlight. Or maybe we’ve just gotten attuned to looking only at what’s screwed up, who’s horrible and not at all that’s wonderful and beautiful.
Speaking for myself I know I was looking at 2011 with a pretty jaundiced eye till a friend showed me a poem she’d written about all the wonderful things that had happened to her in the year. And when that inspired me to look back on my year I came up with a pretty long list of miracles and joys and special moments. So…
Which is why I just don’t get why our television (and now I’m talking entertainment not news) insist on only celebrating gloom and misery and darkness and despair and atrocity and calamity. Flip between any of the channels – there’s plotting and conspiracy and murder and mayhem and torture and tears…
Give us a break, guys. There’s enough going in the real world to make us feel like crying (I see the news channel guys nodding gleefully). Why the hell would you want to make us bawl as well. Cause it brings in the bucks? Really?
Ok then explain the success of Bade Achche to me. Sure it’s veering into a very soapy space just now. But let’s go back to when it started, when it really captured popular imagination. It’s got an overweight, middle aged hero, a heroine whom everyone thought is well past her sell by date. Why did it work then? Cause somewhere there was something happy, positive about the show. Cause it came with the message that you could be in your mid thirties, your forties, the whole world could be telling you that you’ve missed the bus, your shot at love and marriage is gone. But there is still hope. Love can happen anytime. And it’s that hope, that ray of sunshine that I think people responded to, that’s why they embraced the show. And that’s why they’re still hanging on.
Or let’s take two new launches – Hitler Didi and Na Bole Tum. Both aroused so much interest and excitement even before they launched. Because crores were spent on their campaigns? But Players is testament to the fact that just marketing can’t do diddley squat. So what then? The fact is all the ads of these shows – the posters, the hoardings, the radio spots, the promos – be it their colours or the slogans or the moments were all funny, light, cure, sunshiny, happy. Sure the Didi was dictatorial and supposedly scary but the promos made you want to smile at that, not cower in fear. Sure Na Bole is about a widow but the promise of a new romance, a second shot at happiness is evident in every communication about the show. And that’s why they’re working. People want hope, they want to see love, they want their measure of sunshine.
And I’m not saying they don’t want drama and darkness and tragedy and terror. Of course they do. Who just wants to eat mithai? But who just wants to eat achaar either?
The point is India’s known for thalis – a mixed meal serving up every flavour and taste. And that’s what our movies used to do too. And so did our channels once upon a time. But right now all you want to do is make us weep. And we are, not cause of what’s in the shows but at the fact that you just won’t give us anything else.
Cause dude if rotu soaps are the only thing that work explain the success of Sab. Fact is on most days Taarak kicks the ass of most Dukh, Traas, Peeda dramas. Fact is CID and Adaalat are rocking. Fact is people still lap up reruns of Sarabhai (which in finest Raymond fashion is a superb take on saas bahu strife). Fact is a Chandragupta or a Jhansi are much loved. So why this endless tragedy di?
Give me some sunshine, give me some rain. Give me another chance to be entertained, give me the TV that I had when I was growing up…