DO ... what some viewers want
WHEN you want a break from overdressed bahus (all the "K" serials) or doormat wives and adulterous liaisons ("Jushtajoo" on Zee) you should turn to Doordarshan. It is still possible to get several hours of television programming that seem untouched by either time or competition. Tune in to its morning and afternoon public service offerings, or its programmes on DD Bharati. The latter closely resembles DD National for a very good reason, it has reruns of what used to be on the main DD channel. It also seems to be letting DD-1 set the standards for the new one: the same basic level of production and packaging, the same three-people-in straight-chairs-and-a-table approach to discussions, the same simpering children's shows. It is uncanny, the DD touch. You always recognise it, no matter how much the broadcaster tries to copy other channels around it.
On the national channel there is a national literacy mission serial at noon called "Bulandi" which features a family of Doordarshan Muslims. This stereotype has been around for years. People in prayer caps, steeped in regression, lamenting their lot, resisting education, till the light is shown to them by someone in the neighbourhood. But they are good, hard- working people these abbujaans and ammijaans, it would be politically incorrect to show them as conniving or anti-social.
There are also the typical DD telefilms featuring drunken husbands and harassed wives, or women collectors in district bungalows being leered at by local goons. These too have been around for years, and you can still catch them on any day in the mornings and early afternoons. They are so completely out of line with depictions on other channels that they now have archival value. Yet one has to admit that they are a relief from the brightly-coloured, souped up sets that programmes on the private channels use. If only because so much of the country still looks like the people on DD's public service serials and telefilms do. Totally unvarnished.
DD Bharati's children's fare has one thing going for it. It could have been worse. Its IT hour called "TMG Samwad" on DD Bharati, at 5 p.m. every day swings between absolutely kiddy stuff and completely adult stuff on net usage. And I don't mean porn. I mean discussions on e-commerce, on troubleshooting technical problems, and help sites for students wanting to go abroad to study. Then back to kiddy sites like bacchalog dot com or fan clubs on the web for singer Sonu Nigam. This daily programme is in collaboration with the technology channel TMG Enter. With a little bit of focussed and straight thinking, it could be more suitable for what is essentially a children's band on this channel.
A little later you have another children's show called No Kidding. It is in magazine format and would be a joy to watch if the children were able to sound even remotely natural. Alas, they talk the way children on Indian television always talk. For a show directed by Delhi theatre veteran Barry John, it is a disappointment. It is a low budget affair, sometimes creatively so, as when they use children sitting around at a monument to do their quiz segment instead of the standard studio approach to a quiz. When teenagers were featured in a discussion with their younger siblings, again they used a terrace in somebody's home, instead of a studio. The teenagers were relaxed and natural, the children were the problem. They don't talk, they elocute. Okay that's not a dictionary word, but you get what I mean.
Aishwarya Rai ... nothing much to say.
The subsequent programme on this band called "Phulwari Bacchon Ki" is insufferably cute.
Only the optimists thought DD Bharati would be a winner. But it is not a complete dead loss, if you know what to catch when. An old travel programme produced by the Alva brothers, "Off the Beaten Path", has been scheduled every morning at nine. It is nicely done, and well worth catching, if you are the kind who has nothing else to do at 9 a.m..
And now that it's more than a couple of months since it was launched, it's really time DD Bharati stopped its godawful Transtel reruns.
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Such creativity as is available on our TV channels is to be found on MTV and in the ads. With the onset of summer you can expect more entertaining thanda fundas. Aamir matlab Coca Cola, Amitabh matlab Pepsi Cola. Samjhe, flower pot?
And MTV's filmi fundas are genuinely funny. If you can catch "J for Jail", with Shabri and Chaloo watch it. It's a scream. With some clever digs at Bharat Shah thrown in for good measure. Of the new crop of programmes, "Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai" on Zee, modelled after the show called "This Is Your Life", wins the treacle award. Aishwarya Rai could say little else much of the time other than "Ooh, Sooo Sweeet". It features a film star (who else) every time, and trundles onstage somebody safe from their past every two minutes or so. If they can't/won't come, they appear on a screen to tell us how cute/sincere/diligent the star in question was in school/in the studio/ in dance class, or whatever. Don't expect any one you really want to hear from. No Salman Khan being sprung on Ash. They wouldn't risk it. The show's saving grace is its host, Faroukh Shaikh, who comes up with some good wisecracks. At 9 p.m., on Fridays.
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