Movies

Reality bites!

The reality bug bites Indian television big-time. Zee News, for long languishing behind its aggressive and upfront rival Aaj Tak finally got a grip on the glamour behind the culture of emotional strip-and-search that constitutes a successful TRP search.






Prisoner of woe!: Gudiya with her first husband POW Arif


So here was the scenario. A missing soldier, a pregnant war widow and the man who remarried her…. Remember Carlo Ponti’s film Sunflower? Except that this was no movie, and the visibly shaken girl who sat between the two men, as a well-groomed female co-ordinator went about the brusque business of lifting the veil—so to speak—was no Sophia Loren.


Damn, we had no way of knowing what she looked like Gudiya’s face was covered. The men flanking her made up for her lack of emotive faculties. They gave every expression, from anger and grief to acceptance and martyrdom. Everyone from a priest to a legal expert was called on the set to make the picture look complete, if not entirely convincing.


The real action: Reality television reminds me of Lalu Yadav on India TV. Last week they captured his daughter wacking an unsuspecting photographer in Tirupati. Then came the caustic correspondent who said, “It runs in the family.” The camera cut to Mr Yadav running after his supporters and will-wishers to wack them with the bouquets they had just given him.


Do we get the leaders we deserve? Or do the leaders get the kind of television coverage they deserve?


****






Let the good times roll...: Raveena Tandon spreading the cheer


Sweet reality: There was also a touch of realism about a visibly pregnant Raveena Tandon walking in on Sab TV’s Movers & Shakers with her co-star Jackie Shroff and director Shashi Ranjan for the promotion of her new film Dobara. Just last week she was seen whooping it up with her host on the large screen in Ek Se Badhkar Ek. I wish the tete-a-tete with Shekhar Suman was half as funny.


Suman tried hard. When Raveena cutely hid her growing tummy with a cushion he quipped, “So when is the release?”


Cross connections: Which was a loaded and ironical statement in the light of the fact that Gurinder Chadha told me after her press interviews that she though the press was very unfair to Aishwarya Rai by repeatedly asking her personal questions which had no bearing on the film Bride & Prejudice that she was meant to promote.








Of giggles and gags!: Gurinder with Aishwarya

I agree. In fact the interview Ash Balle Balle on Aaj Tak was unfair not so much to Ms Rai as Gurinder Chadha. First of all, the title of the interview itself left out the director when she was very integral to the interview. We can get Rai any day. But Chadha’s presence in India was certainly an occasion. How could we miss spunky Gurinder, dressed as she was in a pink salwar-kameez, which contrasted tellingly with Ms Rai’s subtle cream silk sari.


Very colour co-ordinated and also very heavily loaded towards the actress rather than the director. The visibly besotted interviewer kept repeatedly asking Ms Rai if she intended to migrate to Hollywood. Ms Chadha frequently intervened on her leading lady’s behalf. Not that Ash couldn’t look after herself. But the questions got progressively abrasive, until we got this gem: “It’s said you laugh more and talk less”


That’s when Ms Rai almost lost her cool.


****


Originality sells too!: By aping western models of paparazzi journalism we cannot hope to bring Indian television out of its infancy. Most of the reportage on air is of a pitiable quality. Last week on Sahara Samay’s Yeh Sham Mastani, there were two rather interesting stories which were just not carried to their logical conclusion. First, there was a report on a festival of women directors organized by Sahara India where a woman director suddenly came on to say, “I made this film because I liked the novel.”


Hello? Which film and which novel? Then there were two Pakistani male models at a fashion show in Delhi, who seemed delighted by Indian clothes and India. “How does it feel to switch from Sherwani to Dhoti?” the chatty correspondent asked. The do-you-like-our-country questions was answered by both the boys with selfconscious political correctness.


They knew at the end of the day they had to return to their sherwanis. Chalk up an outright winner for NDTV’s Mumbai Live on Thursday, which chose to give us Mumbai at election time as seen through the eyes of four authors. I loved Kiran Nagarkar’s comments on how all the sewage had been swept out of sight. Then there was Suketu Mehta who walked down the seaside with that excellent journalist Sreenivas Jain to tell us why Mumbai always lives up to the reputation of being a city of dreams.


Very surreal…. and yet dropped down to earth with a thud when the two female writers walked in front of a closed-down Mill in Mumbai with Jain expressing worry over how the children of the unemployed mill workers either became bar dancers or gangsters.


“And these over there are their children?” Shreenivas pointed to stray little gawkers on the pavement. “Well, no… they are not,” the lady author cleared her throat.


Mill gayee manzil mujhe?


****








Scorching emotions: The Saathiya trio

Whats with Sahara: I’ve been trying to follow Sahara’s Saathiya. But I can’t figure out what they’re up to. Last week Aryan took off his shirt and tried to lunge for poor Gayatri. But she immediately forgive him. Maybe she likes skin, as long as it isn’t her own? In the meanwhile Aryan’s best friend Kshitij, who carries a torch in his heart for Gayatri tripped and fell over her sister while fixing the electrical fuse. Maybe he should carry that torch where it can be more useful?


They both froze awkwardly in the floor while the lights suddenly went on as though at a secret birthday party.


Only the candles were missing. Saathiya gives so many close-ups to its star attraction Amarr Upadhyay that the other actors end up looking shadowy. Upadhyay rustles up expressions as though he was auditioning for a part in some exotic film on agony and ecstacy.


He needn’t fear he’s over-doing it. If you’ve seen Sangeeta Ghosh on Des Mein Niklla Hoga Chand expressing everey shade of emotion multiplied 20 times over you’d know what exaggeration is. But her former co-star Varun Bandola is doing rather well for himself on Zee’s Astitva, where last week he had a very subdued emotional sequence with a visibly distressed Alok Nath.


Subtlety is still rare on the soaps.

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