Sunday, June 7, 2009

Prisoner of TV serials

I am a prisoner these days, forced to watch hours of mind-numbing serials on the Indian TV. I had been always dismissive towards those who watched TV serials. Now, in spite of myself, I find myself drawn into the unimaginable complexities of the serial worlds, where in every episode before every break, a new question of life and death gravity comes out with clockwork regularity. Minor misunderstandings are somehow never cleared, till I feel an anxiety-wreck, and are stretched, till I am ready to scream.

Miracles, superstitions, ghosts, bhoot-praits and assorted characters from Purans and other ancient texts reign supreme in this Indian TV world. Most of the time, it is a world of fair-skinned upper middle class Hindu homes, where dark-skinned persons, lower castes, ethnic minorities do not or hardly exist. In that sense, the Indian TV world is similar to the Bollywood world. From their moral highground, 24x7 news channels of this world spew judgements about the racist Australians.

Among the serials that I like are Balika Vadhu and Jyoti. I had always liked Surekha Sikri, and she is formidable in BV. Among the serials, I watch mostly NDTV Imagine or Colours, since my mother's old TV seems to show them well. And I like some of the old fashioned programmes on Doordarshan, probably because they don't shout endlessly or they don't have breaks every ten minutes. A few days ago I saw an old interview of Manna Dey by Irfan and another woman journalist, that was really lovely. I also like their adaptations of books from different Indian languages.

It is a shame that Doordarshan doesn't have proper internet based online trasmissions for those like me who live outside India. Among all Indian TV channels, I would rather like to watch Doordarshan rather than all these commercial channels, with lot of gloss and stupidity. If Doordarshan can have a non-film based programmes channel, probably it will also be easier to deal with copyright issues and make transmission of all those documentary films and films by independent film makers that no one watches and that do not attract sponsors.

Some time ago, in the news they have written that people in Doordarshan are converting their old tapes into digital archives. I would love to watch those.


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