Indian television has recently seen a surge in shows based on political satire. With elections round the corner, apart from bringing hard news, almost all news channels have roped in a 'funny' face for a tongue in cheek look at Indian politicians and the games they play.
NDTV India's Gustaakhi Maaf, NDTV 24x7's Double Take, Aaj Tak's JBC (Javed Broadcasting Corporation) with Jaaved Jaffrey, Zee News' Khabar Tadka Chunaav Ki Bhatti Se with comedian Jaspal Bhatti and the latest Star News' Poll Khol with the king of satire Shekhar Suman. Five shows, one aim - to tickle the viewers' funny bone with politics as its base.
Poll Khol launched on 1 April and the first episode was refreshingly different in the way it kept viewers abreast of the 'khichdi' politicians are cooking as polling D Day gets closer. From LK Advani's rath yatra to Rahul Gandhi's Amethi agenda, not to mention a thoroughly confused yesteryear's actor Dharmendra, Suman didn't spare a soul.
Poll Khol's killer schedule started with a dig at Bihar's most famous political face Laloo Prasad Yadav and his (till very recently) one-time foe Ram Vilas Paswan. Now the duo have joined hands to fight together for the upcoming elections. Suman threw light on a few hostile moments between them earlier when both had openly ridiculed each other on national television and sworn that they would never support each other in this life. Well, the tables have turned since then and how... Now it seems Laloo is swearing that he will support Paswan not only in this life but also in his next life!
Suman also brought on a Laloo supporter through a video conference who proclaimed that whatever Laloo and Paswan were doing was for the welfare of the country and its citizens. Ya... don't we believe you!
Next in line to come under Suman's scrutiny was the new-Gandhi-kid-on-the-block - Rahul, who's contesting for a seat from Amethi in the upcoming elections. Rahul is very clear about his goals; all he does is know what his target is and follow it... whatever happens after that... 'dekha jayega' (we'll see)! Young man, that's not an attitude to have when you're talking about ruling a country. Hasn't your Madre dear told you?
Veeru paaji (Dharmendra) was the ultimate treat on Poll Khol. Mr Clueless could well be his second name. Now the story is that Dharmendra has recently followed his 'Basanti' (Hema Mailini) into politics and has joined the BJP, but with only one aim in mind... that the party gives him his own district, whether BJP or Congress or for that matter anyone else, is of no concern to him. What an example to set for the youth! And what's more, Mr Clueless doesn't even know the weapon that the BJP is pitching against the Congress... that of Sonia Gandhi not being an Indian by birth. When asked what he thought about Sonia being a 'foreigner'... Dharam paaji was visibly disturbed and went on to say that Indians had no brains and didn't respect women.. blah.. blah.. blah! Pray... is he for the Congress or the BJP? It's high time he makes up his mind. Must give credit to Star News' initiative to show the real agenda behind some stars entering politics.
Suman also took off on the BJP and their Ayodhaya issue. What has been observed that only when the elections are round the corner, is the Ayodhaya issue brought up and promises galore given by the leaders of the BJP. Once the mission is accomplished (i.e. elections won) the Ayodhaya issue is sent for a 'vanvaas' (exile) till the next elections. Suman had a t?te-?-t?te with BJP's spokesperson MA Naqvi on the sets of Poll Khol and questioned him about this. Naqvi was obviously quick to defend himself and Atalji's motives and said that no issue was forgotten by the party. Well, the usual PR stuff but Suman didn't miss a chance to take a dig at the inseparable duo - Vajpayee and Advani.
Poll Khol has a cool set with different caricatures of politicians projected on a screen behind. Also at intervals some clips are projected which highlight the hypocrisy of Indian politicians.
Suman rounds off the show with questions from viewers from around the country. One viewer from Delhi asked what would happen if Advani's rath yatra and Sonia's rally ever came face to face? Suman at his satirical best said that no doubt both of them would bad mouth each other behind their backs but if they were to come face to face, they would like diplomats come forward and greet each other, shake hands and exchange pleasantries. Another viewer asked Suman when would he be joining politics? For now, that's the furthest on Suman's mind as he enjoys taking digs at everyone and anyone... imagine him being on the receiving end!! Absolute no, no!
Star News seems to have got a winner on its hands with Poll Khol and no matter how many talk shows Shekhar Suman hosts... he's at his innovative best in this one and only seems to get better with time!