Adieu, eventful '07!

Man, it's been an eventful year if you have been faithfully stuck to the couch lapping up everything offered on the tube.

So much happened on the telly, and yet, so little was achieved. There was an average of a new soap every fortnight, an average of a talent hunt every month, and enough of cricket and cinema buzz to get those sticky eyeballs. But if cinema left a Chak De India or a Taare Zameen Par for audiences to ruminate on, TV this year left no equivalent imprint.

Not many shows experimented, preferring the formula to being the first in

the fray. So, Star One's Laughter Challenge spawned a sequel and rival

channels floated their me-too shows. Gajendra Singh carried his music

talent format to Star Plus, and had to compete with his own Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenges on Zee for the ratings. Indian Idol had a tired season three,

and Zee's extended family of Betiyaan and Bahuraniyan, despite a

'different' beginning, dissolved into modified versions of Ekta Kapoor's

popular soaps elswhere. If anyone, it was Shah Rukh Khan who emerged as the surprise winner of the lot. No one expected Khan to be a patch on the Big B when it came to hosting Kaun Banega Crorepati, but Khan emerged with a style and spontaneity of his own that became endearing as the show progressed through the weeks. When the season ended, one was almost sorry to see him off.

Well, not everyone stuck to the formula. Smriti Iraani, the actor, turned

producer with Thodi Si Zameen Thoda Sa Aasman and later Virrudh. Interestingly, although neither show was meant to be a TRP hogger, both had a hard hitting plot, strong performances and made a subtle statement on society. Anurag Basu's Love Story and Four, both on Sab, too were intended similarly, but somehow missed the mark. Unfortunately, all the experimentation seemed to miss the comedy genre entirely, with Star One finally relying on last year's Sarabhai vs Sarabhai to bring on the smiles at primetime.

All the laughter was restricted to stand-up gags offered by Raju Shrivastav (who must have been TV's top grosser this year) and others of his ilk who appeared with alarming regularity on mainstream channels as well as news channels. Sab's desperate effort to bring on the laughter each night failed for the umpteenth time, but it keeps trying. News channels, meanwhile, found this year that the best bet to fill up programming is to run repeats of talent hunts and behind-the-scenes goings-on at these shows. Under the garb of 'entertainment news,' hours of Hindi news channels continued to be chock full of idols, voices of India and the chhote ustaads all through the day.

Even as long running soaps continued to run - Saarthi, Kumkum, Kyunki...,

Kahaani...are examples - a milestone of sorts was reached when the 'bahu' of Indian TV (Smriti Iraani for the uninitiated) crossed over into enemy territory as Vrinda on Zee's Teen Bahuraniyan. Not just that, she came armed with a tulsi plant and a similar agenda - of saving the daughters of

the family and salvaging the family's reputation. Ekta's long shadow on television programming refuses to fade.

But the year clearly belonged to the genre of the music talent hunt. If you

had half a voice and wanted to be discovered, TV was waiting for you.

Whether you knew the lyrics (Bol Baby Bol), were a kid that could sing (Lil

, Chhote Ustaad) or were an amateur singer (Indian Idol, Voice of India, Bathroom Singer...) TV was waiting with auditions in remote towns to find you. Of course, even if you were a wellknown composer or playback singer, or even a TV actor with pretensions to singing, but had never had your share of the limelight, you stood an excellent chance of turning into a mini celeb yourself. Ask Vishal - Shekhar, Abhijeet, Ismail Durbar, Alisha, Shiamak Davar and the rest who never had it so good as this year.

But if anything marred the happiness of the couch potato, it was the unending film promotions that invaded everything on TV - the talent hunts, the soaps and the news and music channels. The marketing of Om Shanti Om and Saawariya on TV reached a screeching crescendo in November, till

viewers' ears ached from listening to 'Dard e Disco' and watching Ranbir Kapoor drop his towel for the umpteenth time.

Also irritating was the omnipresence of judge/mentors like Javed Akhtar and Mahesh Bhatt, who judged shows, voiced their opinions on every subject and were probably present at every award show that was aired on TV.

But couch potato's vote of the year goes to Rakhi Sawant, who has

established herself as the queen bee of Indian TV, by hook or by crook. With her antics, her tears and tantrums and her comments, the 'item girl' showed us that it was easy to get into primetime, if you knew how to tease the camera and tempt the channels. Lage raho, Rakhi!

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